This story originally ran on CNBC.com

Melissa Bradley’s mission to help women and people of color build their businesses stems from the hardships she faced as a young entrepreneur.

The 52-year-old, co-founder of the mentorship tech platform Ureeka and a Georgetown University professor, started her first company shortly after she graduated from college 30 years ago. The business’s mission was to provide financial literacy services to parents.

Bradley says that when she went to a government agency for a loan, she was told she had three strikes against her: She was Black, she was a woman and the person said she didn’t know any successful Black women in finance.

Bradley, who recently participated in the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and CNBC + Acorns Invest in You’s “Rebuilding Better: A Virtual Town Hall for America’s Small & New Business Owners,” still managed to get her company off the ground. “I bootstrapped,”

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  • Salima Visram founded sustainable fashion brand Samara in 2017 after she couldn’t find a bag that was “cruelty free, simple, and elegant.”
  • The brand sells bags, clothing and accessories made from ethically-sourced sustainable materials like apple leather, bamboo and castor oil.
  • A chunk of the company’s profits go to supporting Visram’s other venture, Soular, which provides children in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with backpacks that have solar-powered lights so they do homework without expensive kerosene.
  • Visram said Samara is profitable and has been “since day one,” generating $2 million a year in revenue.
  • Doing small production runs, maintaining a staff of four who perform many roles, and handling projects like photoshoots in-house have all helped keep costs down, Visram said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bags made out of apple leather. Sunglasses made out of castor oil. A backpack made out of recycled plastic from the ocean. Building

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Many aspiring entrepreneurs think the key to growing a successful company is linked to the ability to secure investor funding. For some businesses this may be true, but many successful companies have been built from the ground up with no outside investment or support, aka bootstrapping. It takes great dedication, strong work ethic, sweat equity and an immense amount of drive to bootstrap a business to success.

Today, the majority of entrepreneurs are bootstrapping their companies. One recent report found that of the 202 million working-age adults in the United States, 27 percent are either running a business they own and manage or starting such a business. Of these, 33.1 million are in the entrepreneurial phase (starting or running a business for less than three and a half years). Now consider that venture capital is used

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