Diversity in Entrepreneurship: Leaders, Founders & Role Models
Entrepreneurship is for everyone, yet the reality is that entrepreneurship and the examples we use to define entrepreneurship are often not diverse. We know that diversity, equity, and inclusion are important topics in entrepreneurship and can lead to the increased success of individuals, teams, and society at large.
With that in mind we asked our students last semester to submit entrepreneurially minded leaders who represented individuals from underrepresented groups.
We hope you enjoy this collection of diverse leaders, founders, and role models in entrepreneurship.
Asmau Ahmed – Founder of Plum Perfect, Enterprise Strategist and Product Innovation Executive at Capital One & Business Executive at Bank of America
Asmau Ahmed originally majored in Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Later, she realized she had a passion for business and entrepreneurship, receiving an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Columbia Business School. A couple of years later, she founded Plum Perfect, which is an app that uses your selfie to find make-up color matches.
Carrie Hensel – CEO & Creative Director of Inner Circle Media
Carrie Hensel graduated from Albion College with a chemistry degree, followed by a brief stop at MSU in their biochemistry program, and then earning a second bachelor’s in drawing and painting from the University of Michigan. When the “starving artist” way of life became too difficult, she worked in the regulatory affairs division of a drug company, while learning and freelancing web design on the side. Leaving that company in 2001, she founded Inner Circle Media, providing marketing, web development, graphic and multimedia design to other businesses.
Adelanwa Adesanya – President & Co-Founder of Moving Analytics
Adelanwa Adesanya is an engineer turned entrepreneur that merged technology with healthcare to improve cardiac attack care. His company, Moving Analytics, provides a digital rehabilitation program that helps hospitals implement home-based care to patients. His clinical protocols and technology help maintain quality care outside of a hospital setting.
As an associate technical product manager at Relativity, a Chicago legal tech company, Sade Ayinde leads two engineering teams to help clients use the company’s software. On the side, she is also growing her startup, Kidhance, which sells monthly subscription boxes full of STEM-based activities and projects that don’t require much supervision.
Miko Branch – Co-Founder & CEO of Miss Jessie’s
Miko Branch is a Co-Founder of Miss Jessie’s, which is a multi-million dollar hair care brand specifically for women with naturally curly hair. Her and her sister named the company after their grandmother. Their goal for this company was to enable women of color to wear their hair confidently and feel beautiful. Miss Jessie’s hair care line is in 1,600 Target stores nationwide.
Jose “Caya” Cayasso – CEO Slidebean
Caya Cayasso is a tech entrepreneur and growth marketer. He started his first tech company in 2011, a mobile game called Pota-Toss, that raised a successful Kickstarter campaign, and was deemed by Techcrunch and CNN as “The Next Angry Birds.” In mid-2014, Caya co-founded Slidebean, an AI-powered presentation platform. Slidebean focuses on helping early-stage startups and small businesses create powerful presentations. As CEO, Caya has led the company’s expansion and growth into a profitable USD $1 Million+ operation that employs over 25 people in the US and Costa Rica.
Keisha Credit – CEO of Lucke by Keisha
Keisha Credit originally worked at Microsoft for three years, but then left to pursue her passion of being an entrepreneur. She has started several companies, sold one, and has more ideas that she’s passionate about starting in the future. Companies that she started include Lucke by Keisha, EgoCentric Beauty, Super Lit apparel, Business Bestie, and she also helps run Paca Y Paca. One of her companies recently passed the one-million mark and is now coaching others on how to grow their businesses.
Mahisha Dellinger – Founder of CURLS
Mahisha Dellinger founded the very successful natural hair care brand, CURLS. Since its inception in 2002, Dellinger has been set on creating products that were healthy and were made for her naturally curly tresses. She has a plethora of products to fit every moisturizing and styling need.
Damola Ogundipe – CEO of Civic Eagle
Damola Ogundipe was born in Nigeria, but raised in the Midwest. In 2011, Damola graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Science. Then, he started working as a Senior Consultant at Oxford Strategic Consulting. In 2015, he co-founded and became the CEO of Civic Eagle, a company that works on helping businesses understand and stay in compliance with both federal and local laws through software.
Marcia Smith – Founder of HGC Apparel & Civil Rights Advocate
Marcia Smith is the founder of HGC Apparel, a clothing line centered around giving root to discourse of civil rights issues in America via fashion explicitly speaking on the issues. A Howard graduate and veteran, Marcia has spent the last 12 years growing HGC Apparel into one of the largest Black-owned fashion brands in the world, being featured on HBO, CNN, and BET as a rising household name.
Christopher Upperman – CEO of Envolve Entrepreneurship
Christopher R. Upperman is the CEO of Envolve Entrepreneurship, an organization that is dedicated to help develop and cultivate entrepreneurial ecosystems and are especially involved with diverse and underserved entrepreneurs. It is their mission to support every individual with a dream of entrepreneurship.
Kezia Williams – CEO of The Black Upstart
Kezia Williams founded the Black Upstart, which teaches black entrepreneurs how to start successful businesses through a popup school. Their training is summed up by: “Think Black, Build Black, Plan Black, and Test Black.” They’ve trained 200 black entrepreneurs since 2016, who have received investment from venture capitalists and have been featured in Black Enterprise. In 2014, she was commissioned by the United Negro College Fund to launch a $25 Million national entrepreneurship initiative benefitting black undergraduateds, and has successfully scaled the program from 44 scholars to over 250.
Trinity Mouzon Wofford – Co-Founder & CEO of Golde
In 2017 at the age of 23, Trinity Mouzon Wofford founded the superfood health and beauty brand Golde where she currently serves as CEO. Golde has since partnered with several other notable companies including Sephora, Urban Outfitters, Goop, and The Wing. In 2019 she created a website called “office_hrs” where she documents her experiences as an entrepreneur to help other young people start and scale their own businesses.