Optimism, tolerance for uncertainty, a desire to make an impact on people and an overall good attitude are qualities of a good entrepreneur. The best entrepreneurs do what they love and are passionate about what they do every single day.
This is a list of some of the most inspiring, notable entrepreneurs. They are from different backgrounds, have different businesses and some are from different times. Yet the following entrepreneurs share a common theme – they sought out to make a change in the world.
- Muhammad Yunus: Professor Yunus believes that people can end the vicious cycle of poverty when given small loans and lessons on financial responsibility. In 1983, he started the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, providing micro financing to local people in hopes of ending poverty. Since then, the Grameen Bank model has been established in over 100 countries worldwide, helping millions of families alleviate themselves from poverty. Dr. Yunus received the Noble Peace Prize in 2006 for being a "Banker to the Poor." Not only is Muhammad Yunus an inspiring entrepreneur, to many he is known as a hero for giving hope to so many people.
- Walt Disney: Walt Disney is an inspiration to kids and adults alike. This cartoonist who started with a drawing of a mouse influenced entertainment industry by creating a multi-billion dollar empire through film, theme parks and screenwriting. With his flair for animation, Disney believed in the power of imagination. With the go-getter attitude of "if you can dream it, you can do it," Walt Disney believed that anything is possible.
- Oprah: Sometimes people are inspirational simply because of how far they have come in their life. Oprah is one of those people. She has been called the most inspirational woman of the era time and time again. Oprah has radically changed her life from her hardships and misfortunes as a child, and has built an empire based on her passions. She is a powerhouse in every business endeavor she has ever encountered from her talk show to building her school in Africa.
- Jessica Jackley: Inspired by Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank, Jessica Jackley moved to East Africa after hearing him speak to further efforts in poor countries. Along with Matt Flannery, the two created Kiva.org in 2005, which is a micro financing website that connects lenders to potential business owners in third world countries. The loans start at $25 and the entrepreneurs return 98% of the loans. Today, loans that total $225,552,550 have been given to aspiring entrepreneurs.
- Blake Mycoskie: Known as the man behind the One for One shoe movement, Blake has created an empire at the young age of 33. TOMS shoes is a profitable business that donates a pair of shoes to a child in a third world country for every pair that is bought. TOMS is great example of how a business can still make money, yet give back at the same time.
- Govindappa Venkataswamy: Although his name is not heard regularly, the impact of his work is big. Dr. Venkataswamy is the founder of Aravind Eye Hospital in India. He had a "vision" of creating efficient ophthalmological hospitals that people could go to even if they could not afford it. Dr. Venkataswamy created high-volume hospitals, modeled on the efficiency McDonald's holds, making profits despite giving away free eye surgeries to those who can't afford them.
- Madame C.J. Walker: Born in the South in the late 1800's to former slaves, Madame C.J. Walker's future was not looking bright. Despite many misfortunes that came her way, Walker had the perseverance and drive to do something no African American woman, or any woman for that matter, had done before- start a cosmetics and hair-care line for women just like her. She began as a single mother with $1.25 in her pocket and eventually developed and grew her business to make her the first self-made millionaire woman in America.
- Steve Jobs: Jobs only attended one semester of college but had the drive and the intelligence to go far. At one point of his life, he was returning empty Coke cans to eat and sleeping on his friend's floor. At the age of just 20, Jobs launched Apple out of his parent's garage. Not even 10 years later, the business had flourished to be a $2 billion dollar company. The board of Apple had a different idea than Jobs and eventually fired him from his own company. This hardship actually turned out to be a great thing for him- he went on to create other companies such as Pixar and NeTX. Eventually he was hired back to Apple where he has grown the company to be the most innovative technology company in history.
Though there are hundreds more of inspirational entrepreneurs, these distinguished entrepreneurs are extremely notable. All of these entrepreneurs envisioned a dream and just couldn't help but Think Big.