Alakija Folorunsho is a business magnate and philanthropist. Folorunsho was born into a wealthy, polygamous family at Ikorodu in 1951. At the age of seven, she was sent, together with her younger sister, to a private school in Wales, returning to Nigeria just four years later to attend Muslim High School in Sagamu. On her return to the UK, she took secretarial studies at the Pitman’s Central College, London. Apparently influenced by her fabric merchant mother, she also studied fashion design at the American College, London and the Central School of Fashion.
To fashion she would return after working as executive secretary in a local enterprise and as a staff of the International Merchant Bank of Nigeria. Her premium fashion label, Supreme Stitches catered exclusively to upscale clientele, including Maryam Babangida, the wife of Nigeria’s military President Ibrahim Babangida. Being positioned so, she got a wind of, and ventured to apply for oil prospecting license in May 1993 through her company, Famfa Oil. Three years later, Alakija appointed a subsidiary company of Texaco as technical adviser for exploration of the license in a joint venture, trading off 40% of her stake. By 2012, Folunrosho’s estimated wealth value had been pegged at $7.3 billion, effectively making her the world’s richest woman. Her Rose of Sharon foundation gives scholarships and business grants to widows and orphans.