Folorunsho Alakija started her journey to being the richest woman in Nigeria in the 1980s with the development of a successful fashion design and tailoring company known as Supreme Stitches that catered for women of high society. As the company gained momentum, Alakija began making connections with prominent individuals in the Nigerian community including the wife of former military president, Ibrahim Babangida. What may have started as a casual transaction became an opportunity to gain wealth in one of Africa’s richest natural resources, crude oil.
Alakija applied for an oil prospecting license in 1993 and upon acquisition of the license, her company- Famfa Limited-was granted the right to explore for oil on a 617,000-acre block of land just outside of Nigeria. She is the currently theVice Chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company that has a 60% participating interest in block OML 127, one of Nigeria’s most lucrative oil fields–part of the larger Agbami field. Its partners include Chevron and Petrobras.
As of 2015, she appeared in Forbes Magazine as #3 Richest in Nigeria, #13 on Africa’s 50 Richest, #87 on the Most Powerful Women List, #949 on the World Billionaire List and she is the second of just 2 female billionaires in the entire continent. In an effort to empower the community from which she came, Alakija launched The Rose of Sharon Foundation. The non-profit organization helps orphans and widows through the provision of scholarships and grants, a philanthropic venture that will not only add to her own legacy but will spark that of Alakija’s fellow Africans.