FOLORUNSHO ALAKIJA – A Pathway For Very Female Entrepreneur

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Folorunsho Alakija(born 15 July 1951) is a Nigerian billionaire businesswoman. She is involved in the fashion, oil, real estate and printing industries. She is the group managing director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited, Digital Reality Prints Limited and the executive vice-chairman of Famfa Oil Limited.

She also has a majority stake in DaySpring Property Development Company. Alakija is ranked as the richest woman in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $1 billion. As of 2015, she is listed as the second most powerful woman in Africa and the 87th most powerful woman in the world

Early life and education

Folorunsho Alakija was born on the 15th of July 1951 in Ikorodu, Lagos. Her family was a large one, as her father, Chief L.A Ogbara had 52 children bore to him by his 8 wives.

At an early age of 7, she was relocated by her parents to the UK where she had her primary education at Dinorben School for Girls, Llangernyw, Wales. By 1963, after her primary education, she returned back to Nigeria where she had her secondary education at the Muslim High School, Sagamu, Ogun State. On graduation from high school, she returned back to England where she enrolled at Pitman’s Central College, London, to study secretarial studies.

Business Career

Alakija officially began her career journey in 1974 where she worked at Sijuade Enterprises as an executive secretary. Her next point was the First National Bank of Chicago (now FCMB). She worked there for a couple of years before she establishing her first fashion firm, Supreme Stitches. In 1984, she went back to the United Kingdom to take a one-year course in fashion designing. It was at her return that she established her fashion firm. The company thrived successfully, and a few years later, it was renamed to Rose of Sharon House of Fashion, thereby making it a proper fashion line. As her successes and influence in fashion grew, she was later made the National President of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN). She was also a long-time trustee with the association. During her term in the office, she dedicated her resources to promote Nigerian culture through fashion.

Business Expansion

By the early 1990s, Alakija decided it was time to expand her business tentacles to oil and gas. Her company Famfa Ltd was incorporated in September 1991. The company applied for an OPL (oil prospecting license) to explore a 617,000-acre block for oil (now OPL 216). In August 1993, the company was awarded the leasehold rights of the OPL 216 oil block, and by 1996 it was officially renamed Famfa Oil Limited. Its goal is to be at the forefront of indigenous oil and gas exploration and production in Nigeria.

Alakija got on board the exploration of a major deepwater oil field located 1,500 meters off the Niger Delta—Agbami field. She gained access by partnering with Star Deep Water Petroleum, a subsidiary of Texaco—through a joint venture agreement. Famfa Oil Ltd then appointed Star Deep Waters Petroleum as its official technical advisor for the OPL 216 exploration license. The company received 40% of Famfa’s 100% stake, while the remaining 60%, retained by Famfa/Alakija. It was first discovered in 1998 by Shell. Star Deep Water Ltd (affiliate to Chevron) functions as the operator of the field. Through her company, Famfa, Alakija and other companies are oil benefactors of the Agbami field. The Agbami field was first discovered in 1998 but only became active in 2008, its operations will last through to 2024 after a majority of its vast reserves would have been extracted.

She had fought back against the government in court for laying claims to a 50% stake in her company. It was initially a 40% stake, but the government later returned to as for an additional 10%. Claiming that the company generated a daily revenue of $10 million from the oil block. In response to this, Alakija had this to say,

 “We felt like it was unfair. We had taken the sole risk and invested everything we had in the business. It had become a family business. We spent six years as a family to ensure this worked out and now that it is bearing fruit, they just stepped in and took away everything we had struggled and worked extremely hard for.”

As ones who do not relent, the Alakija family fought the government until they won in the end—22 May 2012.

The first drilling of the Agbami well was done on 15 July 1998. The exploratory well was about 4,700 feet underwater which the deepest water depth in Nigeria was at that time. From the license application point to the company’s first strike was an interval of 17 years

Other businesses

  • Rose of Sharon Prints and Promotions
  • Digital Reality Print Limited
  • DaySpring Property Development Company


Folorunsho Alakija’s success story would not be complete without an account of her tremendous impact on the society, Her desire to help people, to meet the needs of others, and to see people succeed inspired her to create the Rose of Sharon foundation, in 2008, the Rose of Sharon Foundation which concerned the empowerment of widows and orphans by providing them with the necessary resources and skills

Needed to navigate through life. Basically, the foundation awards grants and scholarships to widows and orphans within the country. Through Famfa Oil Limited, Alakija also hands out yearly scholarships to 9,000 medical and engineering students across the nation.

By July 2013, she was appointed as the vice-chairman of the Nigerian National Heritage Council and Endowment for the Arts.

In 2014, Alakija was listed as the 96th most powerful woman in the world, while in 2015, she was listed among the 100 most powerful women in the world, with Alakija as the 87th on the list. On the 9th of March 2016, she was made the Chancellor of Osun State University, making her the first female Chancellor in the history of Nigeria.

The foundation has also donated a total of 21 chest clinics for the treatment of tuberculosis in 21 states across Nigeria, including the Niger Delta region and Lagos State. They have also successfully donated 4 e-Libraries and 2 school libraries to schools within the nation.

 Personal life

Folorunsho married a lawyer, Modupe Alakija of the Adeyemo Alakija family, in November 1976. They reside in Lagos, Nigeria, with their four sons and their grandchildren, Folorunso’s son Folarin Alakija, married Iranian model Nazanin Jafarian Ghaissarifar in a wedding at Blenheim Palace in England. Media reports suggested the event was one of the world’s most expensive weddings.

Positions, Awards, and Recognitions

Folorunsho Alakija holds six honorary degrees and a fellowship at Yaba College of Technology. She became the first female Chancellor in Osun State University and Nigeria’s first female chancellor on the 9th of March, 2016.  She is one of the Lagos Business School Alumnus and member of the Commonwealth and Investment Council Advisory Board. She is on the Advisory board of the Center for African Studies, Harvard.

In 2014 and 2015, she was on Forbes’ list of Most Powerful Women in the World. In the July 2013 inauguration of the National Heritage Council and Endowment for the Arts, Folorunsho Alakija was appointed vice chairman of the committee.

Recognised as one of the champions of African Entrepreneurship, she was named Chief Matron of the Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs (AYE) NGO. She is a public speaker, a writer, and has also authored several inspirational books.

Her dedication to the Nigerian fashion industry earned her the presidential seat at the Fashion Designers Association of Nigerian. And after serving two terms, she is now a lifelong Trustee of the association.

In 2014, she was named the richest woman from an African descent, a position that was previously occupied by Opera Winfrey.


Folorunsho Alakija’s success story is a tale of hard work, persistence, courage and the will to break through barriers. She did not only created a $2 billion enterprise but has crafted a legacy that will last for generations.

Alakija has succeeded in building her empire, marriage, and raising upstanding family.

Still fully active in the business world, she is involved in the management and strategic planning of her oil and real estate companies, Famfa Limited and Dayspring Property Development Company Limited. The 67-year-old Mogul is the Group Managing director of the Rose of Sharon Group and the Executive Chairman of Famfa Oil Limited.

She is a living proof that success is not limited by gender, age, nationality or financial backgrounds, but rather, success is the product of courage to take risks and stand up strong in the face of adversity.

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