Picture of Folorunsho Alakija
Folorunsho was born in 15th July 1951 to the family of Chief L. A. Ogbara in Ikorodu, Lagos State. At age seven, she travelled to the United Kingdom to begin a four-year primary education at Dinorben School for Girls in Hafodunos Hall in Llangernyw, Wales. After returning to Nigeria, she attended Muslim High School Sagamu Ogun State, Nigeria. Afterwards, she returned abroad for her secretarial studies at Pitman’s Central College, London. She also studied fashion design at the American College, London and the Central School of Fashion.
Alakija started her career in 1974 as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria. She moved on to the former First National Bank of Chicago, now FinBank now acquired by FCMB (First City Monument Bank where she worked for some years before establishing a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches. It rose to prominence and fame within a few years, and as Rose of Sharon House of Fashion, became a household name. As national president and lifelong trustee of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), she left an indelible mark, promoting Nigerian culture through fashion and style
In May 1993, Alakija applied for the allocation of an oil prospecting license (OPL), The license to explore for oil on a 617,000-acre block—now referred to as OPL 216—was granted to Alakija’s company, Famfa Limited. The block is located approximately 220 miles south-east of Lagos and 70 miles offshore of Nigeria in the Agbami Field of the central Niger Delta. In September 1996, she entered into a joint venture agreement with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Texaco) and appointed the company as a technical adviser for the exploration of the license, transferring 40 percent of her 100 percent stake to Star Deep.
Once word got out they struck oil, the Nigerian government snatched a 40% stake. Later, they took an additional 10%. twelve years, she fought the government in court. The government argued if Alakija and family were allowed to keep their bloc, they stood to make $10 million a day. Still, she persisted and in the end she won.
Subsequently, Star Deep sold off 8 percent of its stake in OPL 216 to Petrobras, a Brazilian company. On 9 March 2016, Nigeria had its first female chancellor as she became the chancellor of Osun State University.
She temporarily unseated Oprah Winfrey as the richest woman of African descent in the world. .