leadership

Forbes reveals the world’s 18 most powerful female entrepreneurs

Eloise Keating /

From philanthropy to entertainment and e-commerce, the entrepreneurs on this year’s Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women come from varied backgrounds.

But the thing these women have in common is they have built their power from scratch.

Each year Forbes produces a list of the world’s 100 most powerful women and this year the publication has also ranked the entrepreneurs to make the list.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been named the world’s most powerful woman for the past five years, and this year is followed by US presidential candidate Hilary Clinton in second place and philanthropist Melinda Gates in third.

Mining heiress Gina Rinehart is the only Australian woman to make this year’s list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, with Forbes describing her as “the queen of the global iron-ore trade”.

However, Rinehart has slipped 10 places on this year’s list, coming in at number 37 instead of the 27th spot she held on the same list last year. Forbes estimates Rinehart’s wealth to be $US12.2 billion ($15.7 billion).

Rinehart also topped Forbes 2015 list of the 50 richest people in Australia but unlike SmartCompany, Forbes has chosen not to classify Rinehart as an entrepreneur.

Instead, here are the 18 women that Forbes believes are the world’s most powerful female entrepreneurs.

Melinda Gates’ philanthropic work placed her at number one. 

 

1. Melinda Gates

Number three on the overall Forbes list, Gates has been honoured for her philanthropy work as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated more than $US26 billion in grants since 1998.

2. Oprah

The popular talk-show host came in at 12th spot on this year’s Forbes list thanks to the ongoing success of her film production company Harpo, which co-produced award-winning film Selma. Forbes said Oprah also “rakes in millions” from the television personalities she has helped launch, including Dr Phil.

3. Beyonce

At number 21 on the overall list, Beyonce has also taken out the title of the highest ranked entertainer this year. According to Forbes, the entertainer’s recent On the Run tour with her husband Jay Z grossed more than $US100 million in North America alone.

Who run the world? Beyonce.

 

4. Lucy Peng

One of the founders of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Peng has been ranked the 33rd most powerful woman in the world. She manages Alibaba’s small and micro financial services group.

5. Laurene Powell Jobs

Jobs is the founder of the Emerson Collective, an organisation that helps under-resourced students, and is ranked 44 on this year’s Forbes list.

6. Beth Comstock

Comstock is the founder of Hulu and number 55 on this year’s list. Since leaving Hulu, she has taken on the role of leading GE’s Business Innovations Unit, which includes GE lighting, ventures and licensing, software commercialisation and corporate marketing, sales and communication.

7. Sofia Vergara

At number 57 on this year’s list, Vergara is well known for her television and film acting roles, including the sitcom Modern Family. But she is also the co-founder of talent management and media company Latin World Entertainment and the founder of social networking site NuevoWorld.

8. Arianna Huffington

The founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post is number 61 on this year’s list of powerful women. Huffington is also a columnist, radio host and the author of 14 books.

Publisher Ariana Huffington commands the room.

 

9. Zhang Xin

Zhang Xin holds the 69th position on this year’s list. She is the co-founder of Soho China, one of China’s largest property developers.

10. Elizabeth Holmes

At 31, Holmes is regarded as the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. Making her debut on the Forbes list this year, Holmes is the founder of blood testing company Theranos and is worth an estimated $US4.6 billion.

11. Tory Burch

Burch is the founder of the $US3 billion Tory Burch fashion label and number 73 on this year’s list. She has also teamed up with the Bank of America to launch Elizabeth Street Capital, an organisation to help other female entrepreneurs access low-cost capital.

12. Diane von Furstenberg

Also representing the fashion industry, von Furstenberg is ranked the 75th most powerful woman in the world. Her designs are sold in more than 55 countries and she supports numerous other organisations through her Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation.

13. Shakira Mebarak

Mebarak has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide since launching her music career at the age of 13 and is Colombia’s highest-selling artist of all time. But the 81st most powerful woman in the world has interests outside of music, signing an agreement with Fisher-Price in late 2014 to develop a line of toys and a web series.

14. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

At number 85 on this year’s list, Shaw is the founder of Biocon and considered India’s first biotech entrepreneur.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw talks tech.

 

15. Folorunsho Alakija

Alakija is Nigeria’s only female billionaire and number 87 on this year’s list. She is the founder of Supreme Stiches, an elite clothing brand in Nigeria, and oil prospector Famfa Oil.

16. Judy Faulkner

Coming in at number 88 on this year’s list is Judy Faulkner, the entrepreneur who coded the original software for Epic System in 1979. Today, Faulkner leads Epic System’s private healthcare company, which is worth an estimated $US1.8 billion.

17. Sara Blakely

Blakely is the founder and owner of women’s lingerie brand Spanx and number 91 on this year’s list. She is also one of a group of investors who paid $US730 million for the Atlanta Hawks basketball team earlier this year.

18. Weili Dai

At number 95 on this year’s list, Dai is the president of Marvell Technology and the only female co-founder of a major semiconductor company. 

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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