Role Models for Women – The Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs of the Last Decade

With a slumping economy in the United States, there is a call for more entrepreneurs. The work force is gradually changing and there is a shift that has been occurring in the last decade that is revealing that more women are becoming entrepreneurs.

In over fifty-nine economies worldwide, there is an estimated one hundred and eighty seven million women incorporating their own business style and starting their own businesses. There is a much needed call for new jobs. Whether those new jobs come from men or women is of little significance. In fact, anyone who is able to create new jobs should do so.

The Past

In the past decade there have been many women who have influenced and encouraged other women to begin striving toward their dreams of staring their own business. Success can be found and grounded with social and family obligations.

Society is finally seeing the need for critical and deep thinkers no matter what their sex may be. Job creation is the key to regenerate a down-trodden economy. Becoming an entrepreneur is one way that women can help generate new jobs and help boost the economy. New female entrepreneurs have some intense footprints to fill.

Women who strive to be entrepreneurs need good role models. Whether their dreams have been put on hold by self-doubt or the lack of key figures in their inner circles, it is time for women to even out male dominated entrepreneurship.

With the proper training and guidance as well as connection to other female entrepreneurs, women can begin to find their inner strength and resolve to become successful. The following women are the top ten women entrepreneurs of the last decade.

  • Zhang Yin – Nine Dragons Paper Holdings

  • Wu Yajun – Longfor Properties

  • Chen Lihua – Fu Wah International

  • RosaliaMera – Inditex

  • Xiu Li Hawken – Renhe Commercial Holdings

  • Yelena Baturina – Inteco

  • Oprah Whinfrey

  • Chu Lam Yiu – Huabao International

  • Doris Fisher – The Gap Inc.

  • Giuliana Benetton – Benetton Fashion, Atlantia, Autogrill Restaurants

All of these women are from all over the world. They have started their own businesses and continued to be positive role models for future female entrepreneurs. Some of them are from foreign countries in which there is less of a gap between upcoming entrepreneurs being male or female. The merit is not based on sex in these cases but rather in aptitude, skill, ambition and knowledge.

Zhang Yin

Known as one of the richest women in China, Zhang Yin founded Nine Dragons Paper Holdings in 1996 and currently directs the company. They import paper scraps from other countries and turn the scraps into cardboard to make boxes that export goods for China. This was not her first attempt however; in 1985 she opened her very first paper trading company. She is proof that hard work and diligence pay off.

Wu Yajun

In 1994, Wu Yajun founded her company called Longfor Properties. When she started her company her background was in journalism and engineering. Her desire was to own and operate a real estate company and through sheer determination she forged her path. She keeps a very low profile however and resists giving interviews.

Chen Lihua

This extraordinary lady is educated through high school. She is a native of Beijing and started her life as part of a poor family. In 1976 she began repairing furniture and started her own repair business. By the 1980’s she moved to Hong Kong to pursue her dreams in the real estate industry.

She returned to Beijing after living in Hong Kong for ten years and began her very own real estate company called Fu Wah. Her focus has been on housing projects that are residential. While she gives back to the community via investments in museums, Lihua is still focused on the development of housing in the area of Dongdan. She is the perfect role-model for women who believe they are not educated enough to pursue their dreams of opening up their own business.


With the start of Inditex in 1975, RasaliaMera has become a fashion guru in Galicia, Spain. Her very first brand name was Zara. Over the years her company, founded with her husband at the time, absorbed a few subsidiaries from all over the world. With a staff of over one hundred thousand, Mera has become a very savvy business woman with a keen sense of style. It is possible to create business from the love of fashion and lead yourself down the path of success.

Xiu Li Hawken

Being a self-made billionaire takes a lot of work. Xiu Li Hawken is officially a United Kingdom citizen but has made her fortune in Hong Kong converting underground bunkers into shopping malls.

They are typically situated near subways and high traffic areas above ground which proves to be successful for business. She is the largest shareholder for Renhe Commercial Holdings, who continues to build underground shopping malls today. The key to her success was the ability to seize and opportunity and build upon it.

Yelena Baturina

Yelena Baturina owns two successful companies, a construction company and a plastics company called Inteco. She is one of the wealthiest Russian women to date. She founded her plastics company in 1991. Despite being married to a Russian diplomat, mayor of Moscow YuriyLuzhkov, Yelena kept her businesses and flourished.

Oprah Whinfrey

The fact that Oprah made this list should be of little to no surprise. She is one of the most known role models for female entrepreneurs. Her influence reaches out beyond the parameters of television and is an inspiration for us all. She is known to be the first black woman to become a billionaire. She is a keen model for women that wish to generate their own intrinsic beliefs via business.

Chu Lam Yiu

At the age of twenty seven, Chu Lam Yiu of China started her own fragrance and flavorings company. Her business is called HuaBao International Holdings. She is one of youngest billionaires in the entire world. With great strides and determination she has taken many positions of leadership in vital industry groups that are local. Her influence is flagrant of her desire to create business and become her own entrepreneur.

Doris Fisher

Along with her husband Donald, Doris Fisher started a clothing store in 1969 named The Gap. She started the clothing store in San Francisco and began by selling music and jeans. Now there are over three thousand Gap stores all over the world. The Gap incorporates brands such as Old Navy and banana republic. Due to her success, Fisher now owns over one thousand art pieces of the contemporary variety.

Giuliana Benetton

Benetton Fashion started when Giuliana Benetton and her siblings sold sweaters from the back of their bicycles. She knitted those sweaters herself and created a brand that would soon become part of the fashion industry. Her drive was to make money while doing something she enjoyed. Through her financial endeavors, Guiliana Benetton also sought fortune with a toll road company called Atlantia and restaurants known worldwide as the Autogrill Restaurants.

Every single one of these women had the ambition to follow through with their ideas. They made them a significant part of their lives and began businesses with the goal of becoming successful and financially fit.

It took determination and a strong sense of ambition to keep following their ideas and making them a reality. No entrepreneur begins a business successfully the very first time. Sometimes it takes time and a great deal of determination.

With role models such as these ten women, it proves that there is a way to persevere and to succeed in a satisfying vocation of your choice. Today there is more guidance than ever. The world is ever-changing, become a female entrepreneur and change right along with it, molding the path for future business leaders.

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