Folorunso Alakija is a Nigerian businesswoman and billionaire.
Fondly referred to as Africa’s richest woman, she is involved in the fashion oil, real estate, and printing industries.
As she turns a year older, here is a brief profile on her life, career, and achievements.
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. She returned abroad at age 17 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.
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.
In 1993, Folorunsho performed the allotment of the oil-prospecting license. Her company, named Famfa LTD, was granted a license for the conduction of the oil-exploring works in a 617.000-acre area. It was located 220 miles from Lagos. In 1996, her organization concluded a cooperative business agreement with Star Deep Water Petroleum.
This however led to a tussle with the Nigerian government when they snatched a 40% stake with an additional 10%. For twelve years, she fought the government in court and didn’t give up till she won.
Folorunsho married a lawyer, Modupe Alakija in November 1976. The couple is blessed with four sons and grandchildren.
She is the group managing director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited, Digital Reality Prints Limited.
She is the executive vice-chairman of Famfa Oil Limited.
She was the national president and lifelong trustee of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN).
She temporarily unseated Oprah Winfrey as the Richest Black Woman of African Origin in 2014 and was listed as the 96th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2014.
She was also listed by Forbes as the second most powerful woman in Africa and also one of the World’s 100 most powerful women in 2015.
On 9 March 2016, she became Nigeria’s first female chancellor with her appointment as Osun State University chancellor.
Mrs. Alakija has a foundation called the Rose of Sharon Foundation that helps widows and orphans by empowering them through scholarships and business grants.
She also owns Flourish Africa, a digital platform dedicated to motivating and inspiring women.
Her company is also a major sponsor of the Agbami medical and engineering scholarship scheme with over a thousand people yearly as beneficiaries.
Mrs. Alakija donated a substantial amount of money to Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University Lapai, the Niger State University in 2014. The money was used to complete the construction of a 350 Seat Lecture Theater, which was named after her.