Very few women in Africa have ever recorded a net worth denominated in billions of dollars, unlike Nigerian oil mogul Folorunsho Alakija. Though her total Net worth declined in the latter part of 2021, coming down to a figure slightly below $1 billion, there was a time when Mrs. Alakija was matching the likes of Oprah Winfrey in wealth and even surpassed her once. However, the recent drop in oil price at the international market had a harsh effect on her bottom-line since oil constitutes a lion’s share of her wallet.
The current decline in the market value of petroleum products notwithstanding, Mrs. Alakija still maintains her enviable position as the richest woman in Africa. More so, there seems to be no stiff competition for the position as her former contender, Isabel Dos Santos of Angola, who was previously a billionaire (in US dollars), has not just fallen from grace to grass. She ran completely broke and is facing a ton of lawsuits in her country. Being the richest woman in Africa, it goes without saying that Folounsho is also the richest among Nigerian women and apart from oil, a few digits of her wealth emanated from other ventures like fashion, real estate, printing, and many more.
Folorunsho Alakija’s Net Worth Has Seen A Lot Of Variations Since She Hit The Billionaire Milestone
With a current net worth estimated to be slightly below $1 billion, many refer to the Nigerian oil mogul as the female version of King Midas since whatever she lays her hands on turns to gold. Folorunsho Alakija started recording career milestones from her days of little beginnings in the fashion industry to printing, real estate, and subsequently, the male-dominated Nigerian oil sector. She equally recorded an earlier stint in the banking sector.
Though she was already earning handsomely from her earlier ventures, reports have it that Mrs. Alakija’s daily earnings hit a whopping ₦160 million per day as soon as her oil exploration company started making a profit. This boom in her income had led the female oil mogul to surpass the likes of Oprah Winfrey in 2014 with an astounding fortune of $2.1 billion. It is important to note that there were media outlets that affirmed Folorunsho’s total worth to have hit $3.2 billion that same year.
However, with the changes in the global price of oil that had an adverse effect on many oil companies, Famfa inclusive, Mrs. Alakija’s enviable fortune took a nosedive with the advent of 2018 descending to $1.7 billion. Even after 2018, the global price of oil never improved but rather continued to go lower, further declining her net worth. Prior to 2021, Forbes International pegged the business tycoon’s fortune at approximately $1 billion but as 2021 was ushered in, her wealth further dropped and is said to be currently slightly below a billion US dollars.
During her heydays in the oil business, Mrs. Alakija used to emerge on the list of female African billionaires, a position which she shared with Isabel Dos Santos of Angola. However, since the drop in the price of oil, her name has dropped off the list and it is important to note that even Dos Santos is no longer eligible as she is reportedly broke and battling a number of court cases. With this development, Africans can no longer boast of female billionaires in dollars.
Sources Of Wealth For Folorunsho Alakija
Nigeria’s richest woman is one oil mogul that has diversified her sources of income. Folorunsho Alakija earned from the banking sector before making her mark in the fashion industry. The Yoruba native also has a finger in printing and has a vested interest in real estate. Above all, she is a force to reckon with in the Nigerian oil drilling scene.
Alakija’s Early Stint at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, and Her Banking Career
A short while after she wrapped up her Secretarial Course in London, Folorunsho Alakija returned to Nigeria to take up paid employment at Sijuade Enterprises in Lagos in her capacity as an executive secretary. She was later recruited by FinBank, formerly known as First National Bank of Chicago (the bank is currently part of First City Monument Bank, FCMB). Alakija’s banking career started at the office of the Managing Director as the Executive Secretary.
With time, she moved to the Corporate Affairs Department of the bank where she assumed the role of the head. Moving to the Treasury Department, she functioned as the Office Assistant. According to the oil tycoon, she never relented even while in paid employment; she was earning extra pay selling jewelry and other stuff. Funsho lasted for 12 long years in banking before deciding to take up a new challenge in the fashion industry. The amount Folunsho earned as a salary during her days in the banking sector was never made public, but the fact remains that it was a paid employment and cannot be compared to what she is making as a business owner.
Alakija’s Foray Into The Fashion World
Driven by her passion for the fashion industry, Folorunsho Alakija went back to the United Kingdom where she proceeded to study fashion design. The schools she attended there include Central School of Fashion and The American College located in London. Armed with this new qualification, Mrs. Alajika came home to Nigeria where she launched Supreme Stitches – her first fashion label which in 1996 changed its name to The Rose Of Sharon House of Fashion.
The Rose Of Sharon House of Fashion only needed to operate for a few years under Mr. Alakija’s watch before becoming a household name in the country. It was so popular that the then First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Maryam Babangida, became part of her clientele. The fashion house mostly catered to the needs of the first-class citizens in the country and their clientele list had only the high profile individuals in Nigeria. It goes without saying that Funsho’s fashion business boosted her income and with clients of the first lady’s ilk, Folorunsho was smiling to the bank on a regular basis.
Folorunsho Alakija really did exploits in the fashion industry and aided by the clout resulting from her resounding success, she rose in the ranks to become FADAN’s (Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria) national president. Her days as the boss of Rose Of Sharon House of Fashion were well spent, making an indelible mark in the glitz world of fashion and promoting the culture of Nigerians through fashion and style. Even after she diverted most of her attention to the oil sector, the Nigerian businesswoman is still very much active in the fashion industry as FADAN’s lifelong trustee.
A Huge Portion Of Her Wealth Emanates From The Oil Sector
Folorunsho Alakija dropped her application for the allocation of an OPL (Oil Prospecting License) in May 1993: this was transformed into an oil-mining lease in due time. Her company, Famfa Limited, was later granted the needed license to start exploring for oil on a 617,000-acre block; this is now known as OPL 216. Located in a place known as the Agbami Field in the central Niger Delta, the oil bloc is approximately 220 miles (350 kilometers) southeast of Lagos and 70 miles (110 kilometers) offshore of Nigeria.
In 1976, September to be precise, the female oil mogul joined forces with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a subsidiary of Texaco) in a joint venture agreement, appointing the oil firm as its technical adviser in the exploration process of the license. This led Famfa Limited to transfer 40% worth of stake to Star Deep; Famfa previously had the full 100 percent stake. Operation in the bloc took off in 2008 and it has been a bountiful harvest for Mrs. Alakija’s company, contributing a lion’s shares of her daily income of ₦160 million.
Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija is surely keeping it in the family with the management of Famfa. While she takes the position of the vice-chairman at the oil exploration company, her husband, Mr. Modupe Alakija, wields the big stick as the chair, while her two sons; Dele Alakija and Ladi Alakija, sit on the board of directors.
How She Made An Inroad Into The Oil Sector
After she struck gold as an oil mogul, people started digging to know how she got the connection that linked her to the money-spinning oil sector. With time, some write-ups surfaced with claims that Folorunsho Alakija was only able to get the link because of her association with Maryam Babangida as her tailor. This assumption, Mrs. Alakij said, often breaks her heart. According to the mother of four, it is quite true that she broke into Nigeria’s oil and gas sector during the military regime of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and his wife played a big role in getting her access to the then Petroleum Minister, but she still believes that it was “God’s plans coming to fruition in her life”.
Narrating how it all started, the richest woman in Nigeria and Africa said her interest in the sector was triggered by a foreign friend of hers who needed her assistance with speaking to the first lady over an oil deal while she was returning to Lagos from London. However, it happened that her request came at the wrong time as Nigeria’s concept of “local content” was just starting to take a firm root in the oil sector and their attention was focused on handing out those contracts to only Nigerian citizens.
This led to her foreign friend being denied access to the minefield but being the smart businesswoman that she is, Mrs. Alakija was already strategizing on how to secure one contract for herself. Being just an ordinary stylist with a fashion firm at that time, Folorunsho saw it as a way of diversifying her streams of income. Though the first lady gave her a head start by dropping her name at the right quarters, it was still a rigorous process that took three long years and uncountable appointments with many petroleum ministers. They initially offered her other jobs like functioning as a caterer for the oil workers but she didn’t take any of them.
Even with all the disappointments, Folorunsho still kept hope alive and it happened that there was one particular oil well, so expensive to drill and has been rejected by many as the technology required to drill thousands of feet underground wasn’t in place yet. It was this oil bloc that was assigned to her and as God would have it, the tide turned in her favor as it eventually became productive.
According to the mother of four who is equally a preacher of the gospel, God had a hand in her case by closing everyone’s eyes to the potentials in that particular oil well. They never wanted it because of the accompanying expenses which were estimated to be way overboard, but God delivered it into her hand and changed her story. This is why she has made the mantra “never take ‘No’ for an answer” as one of her favorites.
Speaking further, Mrs. Alakija condemned how people are quick to attribute a woman’s success to external help from those in power. She sees the constant reminder that the former first lady handed her the bloc on a platter as an insult to womanhood, especially when men don’t receive the same treatment for achieving similar feats.
Folorunsho Alakija’s Court Case With The Federal Government
When the Federal Government was allocating the Agbami Oil bloc to Folorunsho Alakija, there was no prior agreement of them getting any percentage from her in the event that the bloc, which they initially considered too expensive to drill, proved successful.
However, immediately it became public knowledge that Famfa Company struck oil in commercial quantity, the Nigerian government was quick to barge in and snap up 40 percent. As if that was not enough, they added an additional 10 percent to what they already took and the worst part of it was that it was slated to be effective for 12 long years.
Backed into a corner by the powers that be, Mrs. Alakika came out with guns blazing to engage the federal government in a fierce legal battle. The FG argued that they had to take the cut because allowing Alakija to keep the oil block means a daily income of $10 million for them. But even with all these analyses, the female oil tycoon persisted in the legal battle and in the end, her perseverance was rewarded as she won the case. Her victory over the Nigerian government has made many view her as a fearless woman who doesn’t back down when she believes herself to be right.
When quizzed on what gave her courage to fight the powers that be, the mother of four said they felt like the whole thing was totally unfair. The government watched them shoulder all the risks, investing their all in the venture as they turned it into a family business. Then after six long years of sweating it out to ensure that the venture bears fruit, the government casually stepped in to reap from their years of hard work. According to the female oil mogul, the situation was completely unacceptable and she just had to hit her chest and say “Folorunsho Alakija doesn’t give up, my spouse doesn’t give up, and my children don’t give up.”
She Owns A Printing Business
Rose of Sharon Prints and Promotions is a functional arm of her fashion company that specializes in making prints on readymade items like uniforms, bed sheets, towels, table cloths, and shirts. The company, Digital Reality Print Limited, which has a specialty in large format printing, design and offset printing, promotional prints, and Industrial/corporate signage, is also credited to Mrs. Alakija’s business empire.
Alakija Has Also Made Her Mark in The Real Estate Industry
Folorunsho is also recognized as the founder of the real estate company, Dayspring Property Development Company Limited. She functions as the Vice-Chair of the organization.
She is Also an Acclaimed Author
From what is perceivable, there is no end to what Folorunsho Alakija is capable of. The mother of four has also displayed competence as a writer with the authorship of several publications under her belt. According to reports, these books can be accessed both as hard copy and in PDF. They include:
- Alone with God
- The University of Marriage – Your Textbook for a Successful Marriage
- Growing with the Hand that Gives the Rose
- The Cry of Widows and Orphans
- His Name Is
- Folorunsho Alakija Speaks – An Inspirational Book for all
- Folorunsho Alakija Speaks – An Inspirational Book for Christians
- Wish for it? Pray for It (Scriptures for Wives)
- Wish for it? Pray for It (Scriptures for Husbands)
- Window Shop for your Spouse
Some of The Notable Recognitions She Has Received
- Forbes’ 96th most powerful woman globally in 2014
- Forbes’ 86th most powerful woman in the world in 2015
- Forbes’ second most powerful woman in Nigeria, 2015
- Forbes’ richest woman in Africa, 2020
- Honorary Dr. of Business Administration from Benson Idahosa University, Edo State, Nigeria
Folorunsho Alakija’s Lifestyle Is Nothing Short Of Luxurious
Being the richest woman in Nigeria, people naturally expect Folorunsho Alakija to leave the lavish life and she is doing just that, though the female billionaire is averse to flaunting her wealthy status on social media platforms as your average Nigerian celebrity would do. The business mogul has driven around town in customized automobiles and has gifted her husband with equally expensive brands. In addition, all her four sons have cars that did not come cheap. Her exotic lifestyle includes some plush houses in both Nigeria and abroad and we are yet to factor in her private jet, the most talked about, Bombardier Global Express XRS!
Alakija’s Private Jet
According to the records, it was the nature of Mrs. Alakija’s job that called for the acquisition of her Bombardier Global Express XRS which is worth an astounding ₦16.7 billion, equivalent of $46 million. Though it sounds so huge, this amount they said didn’t even leave any dent in her bottomless well of fortune. With the private jet, hopping from one location to another is made easier for the business tycoon.
List Of Cars She Owns
With respect to cars, Folorunsho Alakija’s test obviously runs towards the Mercedes-Benz brand. For herself, she acquired a black Mercedes-Benz S-Class which costs around ₦53.5 million. However, the business mogul did some slight modifications and customized the automobile to her own taste and all these are expected to cost even more. Besides, the vehicle is plated with FLO – the initials of her first name.
The same modification and customization were also carried out on her husband’s car – the same Mercedes-Benz S-Class but this one comes in reddish color and plated with MODU, the first three letters of his name. Though the prices of the two cars were never revealed, professional estimates pegged them above N100 million.
The famous female oil mogul also extended her car gifts to all her four sons. Their rides were revealed to be four identical Mercedez Benz G-Wagon costing ₦22-million each; what this means is that the four cars put together cost ₦88 million. For a woman that makes ₦160 million on a daily basis, Folorunsho Alakija sure didn’t bat an eyelid in spending half that amount on car gifts for her children.
She obviously doesn’t keep a tight string on the purse when it comes to lavishing a fortune on her children. A good instance happened in June 2017 when one of her sons Folarin Alakija wedded Nazanin Jafarian Ghaissarifar – an Iranian model. Their wedding ceremony, which was hosted at Blenheim Palace, England, was listed among the most expensive weddings in the world. Folorunsho’s impact was sure felt in that wedding.
Folorunsho Alakija Has A lot of Houses and Estates Scattered All Over Nigeria
According to reports, the richest woman in Nigeria lays claim to a good number of estates in choice areas in Nigeria and beyond. However, she has never been one to gush about her acquisitions in the public arena. While the locations of these estates are not known, it has been established that Folorunsho Alakija does have them and they are majorly part of her real estate business.
Coming to her house in Lagos, it is an expensive abode constructed by the A-list construction company, Julius Berger. The designer of this masterpiece is none other than Adeniyi Coker Consultants Limited (ACCL). According to reports, the house will likely emerge as Nigeria’s most expensive real estate and may probably top the chart in the entire black continent of Africa. The Blue Print of the house’s design alone looks stunning and quite elaborate. Resembling three-quarters of a circle, the dwelling is designed to absorb both air and natural light in a special way, unlike any other building.
The residence, which is located within a couple of minutes’ walk from Omenka gallery and Lagos Lagoon, is worth a jaw-dropping $700 million, a little wonder it is on the lineup of the potential most expensive dwellings in Africa. Unfortunately, the Alakijas guard their privacy jealously and have never allowed anybody to take pictures of the interior. People only get to appreciate it from the outside and those who have been privileged have attested to the fact that the glamour outside alone is enough to throw your imagination into overdrive.
In the United Kingdom, the billionaire businesswoman owns a magnificent mansion which according to reports, sports simple exterior designs but the inside is nothing short of luxurious. One of the main attractions of the house is an indoor swimming pool, glittering in the light and welcoming to anyone that cares to take a deep.
Folunsho Talks About her Family’s Lifestyle
The Nigerian oil tycoon was speaking Punch in an interview session when she spoke about her wealth and its effect on her lifestyle. According to Folunsho Alakija, the kind of wealth that runs into billions of naira comes with the ability to change someone or basically enhance such a person’s innate traits. Using herself as a reference, Mrs. Alakija said her astounding fortune does not affect her in the same way. For one, it has a very little or negligible effect on her person, and secondly, it has not affected her marriage one bit.
Topping the chart of Forbes’ list of the richest woman in Africa hasn’t changed her, will never change her, and no magnitude of wealth has the power to change any member of her family; her husband and children inclusive. These were the exact words of Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija who concluded by saying that they have always lived their lives in that manner and will continue to be who they are as one family.
Mrs. Alakija’s Lifestyle Also Reflects Her Belief In God
Folorunsho, who is a born-again Christian, also commented on her encounter with what she tagged “the glory of God”. According to her, she made a covenant with God when at her wit’s end for his blessings in exchange for a lifelong walk and work with the almighty. The female billionaire said she would be calling God a liar if she denies seeing his glory as it came into her life.
Returning all the glory to God for taking her thus far, the mother of four admitted that it never crossed her wildest imagination that she would one day become a globally known figure. However, she agreed that deep down in her mind, it has always registered that she would forge a career path in business and has always known the Lord would bless the work of her hands; however, the magnitude of her present financial status never occurred to her. Thus, for all the favors she has received from the almighty, the female billionaire’s lifestyle has always been a reflection of her belief in God. She can preach, she invites men of God from other countries down to Nigeria for ministrations, and she has penned some very popular Christian books.
When quizzed on the possibility of her venturing into the Nigerian political realm, Folorunsho was unequivocal in her stance that she has no affinity to politics even though women’s participation in politics appears to be on the increase. Admitting that God never called her into politics, Mrs. Alakija said she would rather channel her focus on things that are of genuine interest to her being somebody that loves to keep body and soul together by keeping busy.
Comparing Folorunsho Alakija’s Net Worth To Other Wealthy Nigerian Women
The oil mogul’s closest contender on the latest list of the richest women of Nigerian origin is Hajia Bola Shagaya with a net worth of $950 million. Hajiya Shagaya, who is also credited as Africa’s fourth-richest woman, accumulated her great fortune from business, importing photographic equipment. However, it must be noted that she once worked with the Central Bank of Nigeria as an auditor.
Following closely behind Hajiya Shagaya is Barrister Daisy Danjuma, the wife of General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma who served as former defense minister in Nigeria. Like her spouse, Daisy can equally hold her own in the Nigerian political scene, serving in the Senate from 2003 to 2007. Her fortune of $900 million did not only accrue from politics, she equally held high positions in both the private and public sectors.
Fifi Ejindu’s fortune of $850 million makes her a force to reckon with among the richest women of Nigerian origin. Fifi has absolutely no link to politics, she made her money from her endeavors as an entrepreneur and a leading female architect in Nigeria. She is the founder of Starcrest Group of Companies dealing in investment opportunities, building and designing, and real estate.
With $800 million in her bottom line, Dr. Stella Okoli, the founder and chief executive officer of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries LTD, deserves a mention in this discussion. Though she started very small with a pharmaceutical retail store, her company grew very fast, becoming the largest pharmaceutical company in Nigeria with over 50 products under its belt.
The likes of Bimbo Alase is also another Nigerian businesswoman whose name can be mentioned in the same breath as Folorunsho Alakija. When she launched Leatherworld Furniture, it was a very small store where you can walk in and buy some bits and pieces. However, today, it is considered to be Lagos State’s largest luxurious furniture business. Her net worth is estimated at $750 million.