36 Wealthiest Women Entrepreneurs and Founders

Who are the richest women entrepreneurs this year? Find out in rank order.

Forbes today announced its first ever list of America’s 50 Richest Self-Made Women (p. 84) in the June 15, 2015 issue of Forbes magazine. The exclusive group includes entrepreneurs, executives, writers,and entertainers.

Richest women entrepreneurs: a diverse set

Of these richest self-made women, 88% founded or cofounded their companies. We have prepared for you the list of the 36 richest female entrepreneurs this year. These women created and built their own wealth from their own ideas.

A third are born outside of the U.S., including new billionaire Thai Lee (No.14 on the Forbes Top 50), who founded SHI International, the biggest woman owned company in the country. She and her now ex-husband bought a tiny division of a struggling software company for less than $1 million in 1989. Then Lee, who is CEO and majority owner,  turned it into one of the biggest and best-regarded IT providers in the world with $6 billion in sales, enough to make it the biggest woman-owned business in the country. Find her story here.  “A dollar amount could never accurately convey the respect and admiration I have for the employees of SHI,” she told FORBES, when asked about her fortune.

Self-made Billionaire Thai Lee
Self-made Billionaire Thai Lee

Among the 36 richest female entrepreneurs, founder at Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes,  tops the list with a net worth of $4.5 billion and is the youngest at 31.

Top female entrepreneurs for wealth

Among the other 36 richest female entrepreneurs this year are:

  • Diane Hendricks (No. 4 on Forbes), owner and chairman of ABC Supply, a wholesale distributor of roofing, window and siding materials, based in Beloit, Wisconsin.
  • Forever 21’s Jin Sook Chang, worth $3.05 billion
  • Oprah Winfrey (No. 5 on Forbes), with a net worth of $3 billion.
  • Eren Ozmen (No. 19 on Forbes), chair of Sierra Nevada, the biggest female-owned federal contractor in the U.S.,
  • Pleasant Rowland (No. 46), creator of American Girl dolls and
  • Martine Rothblatt (No. 35), a transgender woman who founded and runs biotech firm United Therapeutics.
Martine Rothblatt
Martine Rothblatt

How our female entrepreneurs made the cut

Members of the 2015 inaugural list of 50 richest women created by Forbes needed a minimum of $250 million in net worth to make the cut. To compile net worth, Forbes valued individuals’ assets, including the value of stakes in public companies, on May 15, when stock prices were locked in.

Forbes valued private companies by speaking with an array of outside experts and conservatively comparing them with public competitors. To be eligible for this list, women had to have substantially made their own fortunes and be U.S. citizens or permanent residents whose main wealth is in the U.S. In cases where they started businesses with, and still share with, their husbands, Forbes assigned them half of that combined wealth. Forbes attempted to vet these numbers with all list entrants.

From their list, we then extracted pure celebrities and then derived this ranking of the richest 34 female entrepreneurs.

Rank order: the 36 richest women entrepreneurs

1. Elizabeth Holmes, $4.5B, founder, Theranos

2. Diane Hendricks, $3.7B, co-founder, ABC Supply

3. Doris Fischer, $3.5B, co-founder, Gap

4. Jin Sook Chang, $3.1B, founder, Forever 21

5. Oprah Winfrey, $3B, founder OWN, O! Magazine, multiple entertainment properties

6. Judy Faulkner, $2.6B, founder and CEO, Epic Systems

7. Marian Ilitch, $2.2B, co-founder, Little Ceasar’s

8. Linda Resnick, $2B co-founder, Roll Global (Fuji water, Pom, etc.)

9. Peggy Cherng, $1.5B, co-founder, Panda Express

10. Thai Lee, $1.1B, owner and CEO, SHI International

11. Neerja Sethi, $1.1B, co-founder, Syntel

12. Sara Blakely, $1B, founder, Spanx

13. Tory Burch, $1B, founder, Tory Burch

14. Christel DeHaan, $900M, co-founder, Resort Condominiums International

15. Eren Ozman, $900M, co-founder Sierra Nevada Corp (aerospace)

16. Weili Dai, $720M, CEO and co-founder Marvell Technology Group

17. Sheila Johson, $700M, co-founder BET

18. Alice Schwartz, $640M, co-founder Bio-Rad Laboratories

19. Janice Bryant Howroyd, $630M, founder and CEO, Act-1 Staffing

20. Mary West, $610M, co-founder WATS Telemarketing, founder West Teleservices

21. Lynn Tilton, $600M, founder and CEO  private equity firm Patriarch Partners

22. Jane Hsaio, $510M, co-founder and CEO pharmaceutical firm Opko

23. Donna Karen, $450M, founder DKNY

24. Diane von Furstenberg, $450M, founder DVF

25. Vera Wang, $400M, founder Vera Wang

26. Martine Rothblatt, $390M, founder Sirius Satellite Radio, founder United Therapeutics

27. Sonia Gardner, $380M, president and co-founder, Avenue Capital

28. Kit Crawford, $360M, co-owner and president of Clif Bar & Co

29. Kathy Lehne, $340M, founder and CEO Sun Coast Resources

30. Sachiko Kuno, $330M, co-founder Sucampo Pharmaceuticals and R-Tech Ueno

31. Kathy Fields, $320M, co-founder ProactivsSolution and Rodan + Fields

32. Katie Rodan, $320M, co-founder ProactivsSolution and Rodan + Fields

33. Lynda Weinman, $320M, founder Lynda.com (sold to LinkedIn)

34. Liz Elting, $310M, co-founder Transperfect

35. Pleasant Roland, $300M, founder American Girls

36. Adi Tatarko, $300M, co-founder Houzz

For more, see Forbes’ Self Made Women coverage.

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