Folorunso Alakija born 15 July 1951, is a dynamic businesswoman and philanthropist. She has been constantly feted as one of the richest people in Africa over the last decade. Alakija as of 2020 was ranked by Forbes as the richest woman in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $1 billion.
She has been laboriously involved in the fashion, oil, real estate, and printing industries. She's the Group Managing Director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited, and Digital Reality Prints Limited.
She's the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Famfa Oil company which is one of Nigeria’s leading Oil Exploration companies. The company which shares a common collaboration agreement with transnational giants Chevron and Petrobras is to date one of the most remarkable and promising indigenous oil companies in Africa.
Folorunsho Alakija was born on 15 July 1951. Her father is Chief L.A. Ogbara of Ikorodu, Lagos State. Alakija had her nursery education at Our Ladies of Apostles, Lagos from 1955 to 1958. At the age of seven, Alakija went to the United Kingdom to continue her primary education at Dinorben School for Girls in Hafodunos Hall in Llangernyw, Wales between 1959 and 1963. On the completion of her primary education, Alakija schooled at Muslim High School in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria. She then returned to England for her secretarial studies at Pitman's Central College, London.
Alakija upon her return to Nigeria after her education at Pitman's Central College, London first embarked on a career in office administration. She worked as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria. Then she proceeded into banking where she stayed for 12 years.
Folorunsho Alakija moved to the former First National Bank of Chicago, which later became FinBank now acquired by FCMB (First City Monument Bank) as the Executive Secretary to the managing director. She turned the new Head of the Corporate Affairs Department of the International Merchant Bank of Nigeria (erstwhile First National Bank of Chicago) and afterward became the Office Assistant to the Treasury Department.
Alakija driven by her passion for Fashion went to The American College in London and the Central School of Fashion to study fashion design. After her return to Nigeria, she began her first fashion label known as Supreme Stitches, which was later renamed “ The Rose Of Sharon House of Fashion ” in 1996. Within a few years, Rose of Sharon House of Fashion became a household name. The fashion icon with an exceptional sense of style became the national president and lifelong trustee of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria( FADAN).
Since Alakija began her fashion business, she has also established affiliated businesses, The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions which specialized in monogramming, heat/picture transfer, and screen printing for promotional and gift items later metamorphosed into Digitalreality Print Ltd. The company expanded into broadly technical digital large format printing and also contained a direct imaging paper printing press to coincide with her 60th birthday in July 2011.
Folorunsho Alakija is presently the Executive Vice Chairman of her family’s oil exploration and production business, FAMFA Oil Limited which was established in 1991 and was granted the Oil Prospecting License( OPL) to operate on a 617,000- acre oil block in the Niger Delta. In collaboration with Texaco Nigeria Ltd (later taken over by Chevron Nigeria Ltd), FAMFA Oil began full operations in 1996.
In addition to these, Folorunso is the Executive Vice Chairman of Dayspring Property Development Company Limited, a real estate company.
She has 8 Honourary Degree Awards from universities in Nigeria and the United States of America. She's also the first female Chancellor of a Public University in Africa – Osun State University, Osogbo, Osun, Nigeria.
Folorunsho Alakija (nee Ogbara) is to married to a lawyer, Modupe Alakija of the Adeyemo Alakija family. They wedded in November 1976. Presently, they live in Lagos, Nigeria, with their four sons and their grandchildren. Her nephew is DJ Xclusive. In June 2017, Folorunso's son Folarin Alakija wedded Iranian model Nazanin Jafarian Ghaissarifar at a marriage at Blenheim Palace in England. Media reports hinted the event was one of the world's most expensive weddings.
Folorunsho Alakija and her hubby started a house fellowship that has grown to become a full-fledged Christian Ministry known as the Rose of Sharon Glorious Ministry International. She has also authored several books including
- "Alone with God” (a free annual Christian devotional)
- “University of Marriage” (A guide for wedded couples)
- “Growing with the Hand that Gives the Rose” (her autobiography)
- “The Cry of Widows and Orphans” (a sensitization material on the plights of widows and orphans)
- “His Name Is” (A collection of over 3000 names of God)
- “Folorunso Alakija Speaks- An Inspirational Book for All” (A collection of Mrs. Alakija’s Speeches)
- “Folorunso Alakija Speaks- An Inspirational Book for Christians” (A collection of the author’s Ministrations)
- “Wish for it? Pray for It ” – (A series of three books containing a collection of her favorite scriptures for Husbands, Wives, and Parents)
Her latest book for single men and women, “Window Shop for your Spouse” is a practical guide for choosing the best spouse.
Folorunsho accepts numerous invitations to speak and is acclaimed, nationally and internationally, in recognition of all her benevolent work and endeavours.
Alakija established the Rose of Sharon Foundation which helps widows and orphans through scholarships and business grants. Alakija has donated a skills acquisition center to Yaba College of Technology( Yabatech), a higher educational institution located in Lagos. Folorunso Alakija is also the sponsor of the Agbami Medical and Engineering Scholarship Scheme, where over 1000 beneficiaries are awarded scholarships annually.
As of 2014, Alakija is listed as the 96th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. In May 2015, two Nigerian women, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala and Alakija were listed among the world's 100 most powerful women according to Forbes. She was 86th on the list. She was rated as the second most powerful woman in Africa and likewise the richest woman in Nigeria with a net worth of about$ 1 billion as of 2020.
Alakija is #20 in 2020 Africa's Billionaires list dropped off in 2021, #1941 Billionaires 2019 dropped off in 2020 and #80 Power Women 2016 dropped off in 2017.
On 17 July 2021, Benson Idahosa University, Benin City gave her an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration. This was in recognition of her contribution to the business world.