Folorunso Alakija is a Nigerian businesswoman, one of the richest African women, and one of the richest black women in the world.
In 2014, she temporarily unseated Oprah Winfrey as the richest woman of African descent in the world.]Mrso Alakija celebrated her 67th birthday on the 15th of July and to mark this milestone we decided to share a little information about her life and journey to success.
Folorunsho Alakija was born in 1951 to the family of Chief L. A. Ogbara in Ikorodu, Lagos State. At age seven, she traveled to the United Kingdom to begin a four-year primary education at Dinorben School for Girls in Hafodunos Hall in Llangernyw, Wales.
After returning to Nigeria, she attended Muslim High School Sagamu Ogun State, Nigeria. Afterward, she returned abroad for her secretarial studies at Pitman’s Central College, London. She also studied fashion design at the American College, London and the Central School of Fashion.
Career and Achievements
Mrs. Alakija started her career in 1974 as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria. She moved on to the former First National Bank of Chicago, now FinBanknow acquired by FCMB (First City Monument Bank) where she worked for some years before establishing a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches.
Supreme stitches became popular and within a few years, it was a household name. As national president and lifelong trustee of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), she left an indelible mark, promoting Nigerian culture through fashion and style.
In May 1993, Folorunsho applied for the 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.
In September 1996, she entered into a joint venture agreement with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Texaco) and appointed the company as a technical adviser for the exploration of the license, transferring 40 percent of her 100 percent stake to Star Deep.
Subsequently, Star Deep sold off 8 percent of its stake in OPL 216 to Petrobras, a Brazilian company.
On 9 March 2016, Nigeria had its first female chancellor as she became the chancellor of Osun State University.
Folorunsho got married to a lawyer, Modupe Alakija in November 1976. The couple resides in Lagos, Nigeria with their four sons and grandchildren.
Mrs. Alakija has a foundation called the Rose of Sharon Foundation that helps widows and orphans by empowering them through scholarships and business grants.
Her company is also a major sponsor of the Agbami medical and engineering scholarship scheme, one of the most reliable scholarship schemes in Nigeria with over a thousand people yearly as beneficiaries.
Mrs. Alakija is a fervent supporter of education in Nigeria; for example in 2014 she donated a substantial amount of money to Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University Lapai, the Niger State University. The money was used to complete the construction of a 350 Seat Lecture Theater, which was named after her.