She is a Nigerian. She is a fashion designer. She is an oil magnate.

Think you know Folorunsho Alakija? Think again.

 

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Folorunsho Alakija was born on July 15, 1951 in Ikorodu, Lagos State. She is a Nigerian billionaire fashion-designer who has an indigenous Nigerian oil and gas exploration and production company.

 

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Folorunso is the group Managing Director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited and Digital Reality Prints Limited and the executive vice-chairman of Famfa Oil Limited. Her organization, Rose of Sharon Foundation is a faith-based, non-profit organization which focuses on assisting the most vulnerable people in the society, including widows and orphans.

 

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Folorunso Alakija originates from a prominent and wealthy family in Lagos. Her dad, Chief L. A. Ogbara, had 8 wives and 52 children in his lifetime, now left with 46. Her mom was the first wife, Folorunso was the second surviving child.

 

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Folorunsho’s mom used to be a fabric merchant and through helping her mum, she learnt a lot. At age 7, she and her younger sister were sent abroad to school in Wales, a private school for girls in Northern Wales, and they were the only colored (black) girls in the school, but because their fellow mates couldn’t pronounce their names, they coined these names for them- “Flo for Folorunsho and Doyle for Doyin”.

 

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Alakija’s professional story began when she worked as a secretary at Sijuade Enterprise. She also worked in First National Bank of Chicago, Lagos in the mid-1970s. In 1984, she went abroad to school in the UK. She first studied Secretarial Studies at Central College, Pitman but ended up at American College London and then Central School of Fashion to study Fashion design. 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.

 

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Folorunsho and a friend she met while she was still actively involved in the world of fashion. Thanks to her new found friend, She got involved in the business of oil. There was an oil bloc no one wanted at that time for several reasons. By 1993, it was this same oil bloc she applied for. It was an Oil Prospecting License (OPL), which was her first move into the oil industry, and She got the license by August 1993. They were approached in late 1996 by then oil giant Texaco who were sure the bloc had potentials as they had done their homework well. After negotiations that spanned 3 months they agreed on terms and the rest like they say is history. Her company, Famfa Limited subsequently became unstoppable.

 

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In 1976, she got married to the love of her life, Modupe Alakija and eventually involved him and her four sons in Famfa Oil. Her husband is the Chairperson of Famfa Oil and she is the executive Vice President.

 

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She has written an autobiography titled: Growing with the Hand That Gives The Rose.

 

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She is from a Muslim background but converted to Christianity in her adult life.

 

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Alakija is now worth $1.82billion. She is the richest black woman in the world.  As of 2015, she is listed as the second most powerful woman in Africa after Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the 87th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.

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