Alongside the most influential women on the planet such as presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and former talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Nigeria’s Folorunsho Alakija received the award of “Africa’s Most Powerful Woman.”
Alakija was ahead of Liberian President and Nobel Peace winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who ranked at 83, and Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the president of the tiny Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius, who placed 96, in the top 100 most powerful women.
Born in Nigeria’s business center of Lagos, Alakija made her name in two different industries — first, oil and gas, and second, fashion. She is an authoritative woman, and after quitting her job as secretary for the now-defunct International Merchant Bank of Nigeria, flew to London to study fashion design.
After her years as a student there, she opened her own tailoring company called Supreme Stitches – a brand that caters to the Nigeria’s upper class.
Apart from being the most powerful woman in Africa, Alakija is also one of the richest. In 2012, it was revealed by Ventures Africa that she was worth at least $3.3 billion.
Despite her worth falling alongside the oil and gas price decline over the years, Alakiha is still one of the richest, falling just shortly behind the daughter of President José Eduardo dos Santos.
Like any other influential and rich figure, Alakija was also shrouded in controversy. Like Unaoil, an oil and gas company that was unfairly damned by a Fairfax multimedia expose, Alakija was also accused of keeping back an excess of one billion barrels of oil. The Nigerian government tried to re-acquire half of the oil-rich block owned by Alakija, and the result was she lost everything – all she was left with was 10% of her oil company. In 2012, however, Nigeria’s highest court reversed the government’s actions.
Apart from being a full-time businesswoman, Alakija is also an active philanthropist. She is the founder of the Rose of Sharon Foundation, which supports both young and old widows and orphans in Nigeria. In her free time she is a prominent public speaker who teaches women how to keep a steady work/life balance.
(image credit: africa-me.com)