richest women in Nigeria 2021
Folorunsho Alakija is the richest woman in Nigeria
It’s difficult to discover a list of Nigeria’s richest entrepreneurs that doesn’t include the name – Folorunsho Alakija. Several rankings have named her the richest woman in Nigeria, and she is ranked 20th in Africa on the 2020 list of Africa’s Billionaires. Though most people associate Alakija’s fortune with her activities in the oil industry, she also has interests in fashion and real estate.
She was born on July 15, 1951, in Ikorodu, Lagos State, to Chief L.A. Ogbara. Folorunsho came from a huge household with several siblings.
From 1955 to 1958, she attended Our Ladies of Apostles Nursery School in Lagos, then at the age of seven, she moved to the United Kingdom to attend Dinorben School for Girls in Harfodunos Hall, Llangernyw, Wales. She returned to Nigeria in 1963 to complete her secondary schooling at Sagamu, Ogun state, before returning to London to complete her secretarial studies at Pitman’s Central College.
At the time, it was relatively usual for girls to pursue secretarial skills, tourism and hospitality, or fashion design. In addition to her Secretarial education, Folorunsho attended the American College in London and the Central School of Fashion, where she earned a degree in Fashion Designing.
Table of Contents
Folorunsho, now a qualified secretary and fashion designer, returned to Nigeria to work. In 1974, she began her career as an Executive Secretary at Sijuade Enterprises in Lagos. She then worked as the Executive Secretary to the Managing Director of First National Bank of Chicago, which was eventually renamed FinBank and bought by First City Monument Bank (FCMB). In a nutshell, she was the Office Assistant to the Treasury Department and the Head of the Corporate Affairs Department.
After spending some years in banking, Folorunsho decided to start her fashion design company, Supreme Stitches. She worked hard at it to set the brand in motion, and the name was later changed to Rose of Sharon House of Fashion.
Later, in September 1991, FAMFA Oil Limited was incorporated and in 1993, Alakija was granted an Oil Prospecting License (OPL) on OPL 216, a 617,000-acre oil block located in the Agbami Field of the central Niger Delta.
Three years later, she entered a joint venture agreement with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Texaco). She went on to appoint Star Deep Water as technical adviser for the exploration of her license and transferred 40% of her 100% stake to the company. Star Deep ceded 8% of the 40% to Petrobras, thus bringing in even more players. It was no surprise, therefore, that they succeeded in their exploration and soon grew to become one of the largest indigenous exporters of crude oil in Nigeria.
Alakija pursued other interests such as printing and real estate. She is the Executive Vice-Chairman of The Rose of Sharon Group, which includes The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited, Digital Reality Prints Limited, and Famfa Oil Limited, of which she is the Executive Vice-Chairman. Her real estate holdings are concentrated in the DaySpring Property Development Company, in which she owns a majority ownership.
Alakija had a bone to pick with the FG
After several years of exploration, they discovered oil in the OPL 216. As soon as the news became known, the government stepped in and grabbed a 40% share, followed by another 10% holding in the oil bloc. The government said that if Alakija was permitted to keep all of his shares, he could earn up to $10 million each day. Folorunso Alakija fought the government in court for more than a decade, unwilling to let it go.
“We felt it was unjust. We had taken the only risk and put everything we had into the company. It has evolved into a family enterprise. We labored as a family for six years to make sure things worked out, and it was finally bearing fruit. They simply stepped in and took away all we had fought for and worked so hard for. “I told myself, ‘Folorunsho Alakija never gives up, my husband never gives up, and my children never give up,'” she later explained.
They eventually won the case and received the stakes back from the government.
Recognitions and philanthropic gestures
Mrs. Alakija was named the second most influential woman in Africa and the 86th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2015. She is also the richest woman in Nigeria, having a net worth of approximately $1 billion as of 2020.
She has won no fewer than eight Honorary Degree Awards from universities in Nigeria and the United States of America, the most recent of which she received on July 17, 2021 from Benson Idahosa University in Benin City. When she was named Chancellor of Osun State University in March 2016, she became Nigeria’s first female chancellor.
Through scholarships and business awards, Alakija assists and empowers widows and orphans through the Rose of Sharon Foundation. Folorunso Alakija is also the sponsor of the Agbami Medical and Engineering Scholarship Scheme, which awards scholarships to approximately 1000 students each year. She has also given the Yaba College of Technology a skills acquisition center.
Link: Top List