From Celebrity Tailor to World’s Richest Woman of African Descent

The Herald NG
3 Min Read

Talk show expert, Oprah Winfrey, who long reigned supreme as the world’s richest Black woman, has been replaced by new kid on the block, Folorunsho Alakija, according to Ventures Africa, an African business magazine and news service.

Folorunsho Alakija, a Nigerian billionaire oil tycoon, Fashion designer and philanthropist is worth at least $3.3 billion- contrary to a recent Forbes Magazine ranking which pegs her net worth at only $600 million.

Mrs. Alakija was born in 1951 into a large family – her dad had 8 wives and 52 children in his lifetime and she was the second surviving child as her mom was the first wife. She got married in 1976 to her loving husband Modupe Alakija and between them they have 4 kids, all boys who all schooled abroad and are all fully engaged in the family business.

She started out her professional career in the mid-70s as a secretary at the now defunct International Merchant Bank of Nigeria, one of the country’s earliest investment banks. In the early 80s, Alakija quit her job and went on to study Fashion design in England, returning to Nigeria shortly afterwards to start Supreme Stitches, a premium Nigerian fashion label which catered exclusively to fashionable wives of military bigwigs and society women.

In May 1993, Alakija applied for an allocation of an Oil Prospecting License (OPL). The license to explore for oil on a 617,000 acre block – (now referred to as OPL 216) was granted to Alakija’s company, Famfa Limited.

On her involvement in the oil and gas industry, she explained that through a friend she met while was still actively involved in the world of fashion [Maryam Babangida], they got involved in the business of oil. There was an oil bloc no one wanted at that time for several reasons; it was this same oil bloc they got allocated to. They were approached in late 1996 by the then oil giant Texaco who were sure the bloc had potentials as they had done their homework well, and after negotiations that spanned 3 months we all agreed on terms and the rest like they say is history. Later Texaco became Chevron and struck oil in commercial quantity and they were told the oil had been collecting in that field for 17 million years.

If anyone still doubts Alajika’s net worth as compared to Oprah’s, the editors at Ventures Africa also state that Alajika, owns more than $100 million in real estate, owns a Bombardier Global Express 6000 private jet that she purchased this year for $46 million.

Alajika spends her time and wealth taking care of widows and orphans and giving them hope.

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