Folorunso Alakija is one of the African richest women and also one of the richest black women in the world, Nigerian Born billionaire fashion-designer and Executive Director at FAMFA Oil, an indigenous Nigerian oil and gas exploration and production company
Folorunsho was born in 1951 to the family of Chief L. A. Ogbara in Ikorodu, Lagos State. At age seven, she travelled 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. Afterwards, 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
They were in the school for 4 years, and at age 11 she and Doyle moved back to Nigeria at the request of their parents who didn’t want them to lose their African values, culture and tradition. In 1976, Folorunsho Alakija got married to her loving husband. The couple have 4 kids, all boys. All of them schooled abroad and are all engaged one way or the other in the family business.
Folorunsho’s mother used to be a fabric merchant and she used to help out, and through that she learnt a lot. After leaving the corporate world in 1984, she went to the UK to study fashion designing.
A year after her training, she came back to Nigeria and started her fashion house – Supreme Stitches at a 3-Bedroom apartment in Surulere, Lagos. A year after establishing the company, she emerged as the best designer in the country in 1986
Folorunsho 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 FinBank now acquired by FCMB (First City Monument Bank) where she worked for some years before establishing a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches. It rose to prominence and fame within a few years, and as Rose of Sharon House of Fashion, became 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
Alakija Business partners include Chevron and Petrobras. Her first company was a fashion label that catered to Nigeria’s elite women, including the wife of former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, who awarded Alakija’s company an oil prospecting
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. The block is located approximately 220 miles south east of Lagos and 70 miles offshore of Nigeria in the Agbami Field of the central Niger Delta. 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
She sold her Star Deep off 8 percent of its stake in OPL 216 to Petrobras, a Brazilian company. On 9 March 2016 she became the first female Chancellor (Osun State University) in Nigeria.
she has a foundation called the Rose of Sharon Foundation that helps widows and orphans by empowering them through scholarships and business grants
Folorunso Alakija is major sponsor of the Agbami medical and engineering scholarship scheme, one of the most reliable scholarship scheme in Nigeria with over a thousand people yearly as beneficiaries
She was appointed by National Heritage Council and Endowment for the Arts as vice-chairman On 1 July 2013, she also the Chief Matron of Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs
Recently, the group Managing Director of The Rose of Sharon Group also spoke on her ranking as the wealthiest woman on the continent.
She recalled that her biggest leap in life was becoming born again.
“I thank God that I took that decision. That was 26 years ago. It was a sad experience I had and I was looking for God everywhere.
“I realised that the place to find him was in my heart. God told me to surrender my heart to Him and I gave my heart to Jesus”, she told Sun.
On how she relaxes, Alakija replied: “I relax by working and doing more work. That is because I enjoy working.
“However, I look forward to the time I can relax with members of my family. Aside that, I enjoy doing the work of God so much.”
Asked to disclose her feeling when people call her Africa’s richest woman, the business woman said: “I didn’t say so. But if that is what people say, I claim it and I pray that the Lord will do more for me in Jesus name”.