Well it had to happen sooner or later. Oprah, who according to Forbes is worth $2.3 billion, is no longer the richest black woman in the world, thanks to Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija, who’s worth $7.3 billion. Alakija wasn’t always in the booming business of oil.
Here’s our rationale: In March this year, Petrobas, a Brazilian oil company that owns an 8 percent working interest in OML 127 in which Alakija owns 60 percent, announced that it was actively looking to dispose of its stake for a figure in the region of $1.5 – $2.5 billion. According to sources at Petrobas, there are a number of interested suitors for the stake. The Reuters report is available here.
Since we prefer to be as conservative as possible, we take the low-end and assume that they will fetch $1billion for the stake. If their 8 percent fetches them $1 billion, then Alakija’s 60 percent is worth over $7.3 billion. Alakija also owns a Bombardier Jet as well as a large collection of prime real estate in Nigeria and London.
Alakija was born into a wealthy, polygamous Nigerian family. She started out her professional career in the mid 70s as a secretary at the International Merchant Bank of Nigeria and in the early 80s, she quit her job and went on to study Fashion design in England. She returned to Nigeria shortly afterwards to start Supreme Stitches, a premium Nigerian fashion label that catered exclusively to upscale clientele, including Maryam Babangida, the wife of Nigeria’s former military President Ibrahim Babangida. Leveraging on this proximity to power, she acquired an oil prospecting license – the basis of her enormous fortune today.
Riches aside, Alakija also founded Rose of Sharon Foundation, a NGO focused on alleviating the plight of widows and orphans.