The Black Female Millionaire Who Paved the Way for Madam C.J. Walker
Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone (August 9, 1869—May 10, 1957) was an African-American businesswoman, educator, inventor and philanthropist. She had launched her hair care business four years before Sarah Breedlove (later known as Madam C. J. Walker). In the early 1900s Madam Walker worked as a "Poro Agent" for Annie for about one year.
Annie Malone is recorded as one of America’s first black female millionaires based on reports of $14 million in assets held in 1920 from her beauty and cosmetic enterprises, headquartered in St. Louis and Chicago.
Turnbo attended school in Peoria, Illinois, but she never finished high school. Instead, she practiced hairdressing with her sister. When she and her family moved to Lovejoy, Illinois, Annie decided she wanted to become a "beauty doctor." At the age of 20 she had already developed her own shampoo and scalp treatment to grow and straighten hair. Taking her creation to the streets, she went around in a buggy making speeches to demonstrate and promote the new shampoo.
By 1902, Malone's business growth led her to St. Louis, Missouri, which at the time held the fourth largest population of African Americans. In St. Louis she copyrighted her Poro brand beauty products.
She went on to found Poro College in 1917 in Saint Louis, Missouri; a four-story, million dollar factory and beauty school and the first educational institution in the United States dedicated to the study and teaching of black cosmetology, which employed nearly 200 people and reportedly graduated over 75,000 agents world-wide, including the Caribbean.
During her lifetime, Malone donated large sums to countless charities. She had donated the first $10,000 to build the St. Louis Colored Orphan's Home new building in 1919. During the 1920s, Malone's philanthropy included financing the education of two full-time students in every historically black college and university in the country. Her $25,000 donation to Howard University was among the largest gifts the university had received by a private donor of African descent. She also contributed to the Tuskegee Institute.