BIOGRAPHY OF AFRICA’S RICHEST WOMAN: MRS. FOLORUNSHO ALAKIJA
Folorunsho Alakija is a Nigerian billionaire fashion-designer and Executive Director at FAMFA Oil, an indigenous Nigerian oil and gas exploration and production company.
Folorunsho Alakija was born in Ikorodu, Lagos State, on 15th July, 1951. She originates from a large family that consists of: her dad, Chief L. A. Ogbara, that had 8 wives and 52 children in his lifetime. Folorunsho was the second surviving child, while her mom happened to be the first wife.
She and her younger sister, Doyin were sent to school abroad when she was 7 years old. They went to a school in Wales, a private school for girls in Northern Wales, and they were the only colored (black) girls in the school. For the fact that their fellow mates found it difficult to pronounce their names, they coined those names – Doyle for Doyin and Flo for Folorunsho.
They were in the school for 4 years, and in order for them not to lose their African values, culture and tradition, when she was at the age of 11, their parents withdrew both of them back to Nigeria.
At the age of 25, Folorunsho Alakija got married to her loving husband, Modupe Alakija, in 1976, and the couple has four handsome boys together. All of them studied abroad, and they all engaged one way or the other in the family business.
Folorunsho’s mom used to be a fabric merchant and she used to help out, and through that she learnt a lot. After leaving the corporate world in 1984, she went to the UK to study fashion designing.
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.
On Folorunsho’s involvement in the oil and gas industry, it is known that through a friend whom she met while was still actively involved in the world of fashion; they got involved in the business of oil. There was an oil bloc no one wanted at that time for several reasons, it was this same oil bloc they got allocated.
They were approached in late 1996 by the 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.
Later Texaco became Chevron and they struck oil in commercial quantity.