Age 63 $2.5B Forbes 12/14
Citizen Nigeria Born Nigeria
Self-made in Oil, founded Famfa Oil in 1993 EDU High School
RECORD In 2012 and 2013, she became the richest black woman in the world after surpassing Oprah Winfrey. In 2014 Oprah regained her title as richest black female after a sharp drop in oil prices.
- She was born into a wealthy polygamous Nigerian family. Her father is the
chief of the tribe, Chief L. A. Ogbara, had 8 wives and 52 children in his
lifetime. She was the second surviving child, her mom was the first wife.
- From age 7 to 11, she was one of two children chosen by his father to study
abroad. She went to boarding school in Wales
- At age 11, her parents moved her back to Nigeria because they did not want
her to lose her African values, culture and tradition. After returning to Nigeria,
she attended Muslim High School Sagamu Ogun State
- Then she would return to England once again, this time for secretarial studies
at Pitman’s Central College in London. During this time, she also studied
fashion design at the American College in London and at the Central School of
- After graduation from high school, she worked as a secretary for 1 year.
- In 1974, she returned once again to Nigerian and was executive secretary at
- She worked as a secretary for the International Merchant Bank. After the
bank closed business, in 1984, she moved abroad once again to London, this
time to study fashion design
- After returning to Nigeria to work as an executive secretary, she founded her
own tailoring company, Supreme Stitches.
- She quickly made friends with rich and powerful people, including former
first lady Mary am Babandiga
- In 1991, she applied for OPL as indigenous owner. It took 2 years and finally,
in 1993, Nigerian Ministry of Energy approved her granting her an offshore
- Most of those awarded OPL (Oil Prospecting License) would immediately flip
them to foreign companies and pocketed the profit. She has bigger and better
ideas. Her innovation was to keep ownership, do joint-venture instead of selling
her oil rights.
- In September 1996, she entered into a joint venture agreement with Star Deep
Water Petroleum Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Texaco). She gave 40%
ownership to Star Deep Water. Thus she owns 60% of Famba.
- After the off-shore oil wells was producing more than one million dollars of
crude a day, in 2005 the Nigerian military government and generals took by
force 50% of Famba and succeeded. She then owned only 10% of Famba. She
challenged the military government to the Supreme Court in Nigeria to fight for
- Finally in 2012, the Nigerian Supreme Court handed her 60% control of
Famba. With Famba values over $6B, she is now multi-billionaire and richest
black female in the world, surpassing Oprah Winfrey.
- Since 2006,, to reduce dependency on oil business, she diversified into
printed and started the company Digital Reality Print Limited..
- Now Modupe Alakija, her husband is the Chairman of Famfa Oil. Her sons
run the company.
“So I am 63 and I am not yet done. So what is your excuse? I never went to a University and I am proud to say so because I don’t think I have done too badly,”she said during the motivational talk.
“You do not have to have a university education to be able to make it so count yourselves privileged to have that education as part of the feather in your cap,” “I come from Ikorodu, Lagos state.
I am married to a dashing young lawyer of 70 years of age and we have four grown up gentlemen and grandchildren.
It has not been a rag to riches fairytale. It has not been an overnight phenomenon like some cases which you find here and there all over the world. For as long as I can remember, I had always wanted my own business”
“Hard work…am trying to tell you how I got to where I am if you want those billions.
Hard work, diligence, persistence…days where you nearly gave up but I
chose not to give up.”
“I took charge of my life with the tools I have shared with you. I chose to become born again at the age of 40”.
“It’s essential to draw up a “things to do” list on a daily basis and set priorities in executing them, making sure that any unfinished task get posted to the next day’s
” Women must never feel that we cannot achieve the seemingly unachievable and that we are here just to rear children, but we can actually combine both roles.”
“(Women)Ability to multi task better than men – this is a natural ability that
needs no debate.”
“What is worth doing at all is what doing well,”