Folorunso Alakija is a Nigerian Billionaire who shares the journey of her life on CNN’s African Voices. She was born July 15, 1951 and is a Nigerian Billionaire fashion-designer and Executive Director at FAMFA Oil, an indigenous Nigerian oil and gas exploration and production company.
Stories of how her mother used to be a fabric merchant and she used to help out, and through that she how to market the fabric her mother sold helped to shape her into the business woman she is now. After leaving the corporate world in the early 80’s (1984), she left to go the UK to study fashion designing. She came back to Nigeria in 1985 a year after her training and started her fashion house-Supreme Stitches at a 3-Bedroom apartment in Surulere, Lagos and a year after establishing the company, she emerged as the best Designer in the country in 1986.
She and her younger sister were sent to school abroad when she was 7 years old to a private school for girls in Northern Wales, and they were the only coloured (black) girls in the school. And because their fellow mates couldn’t pronounce their names, they coined them names-Flo for Folorunso and Doyle for Doyin. At age 11 she and Doyle moved back to Nigeria at the request of their parents who didn’t want them to lose their African values, culture and tradition. She married in 1976 and has 4 kids, all boys. Who all schooled abroad and are all engaged one way or the other in the family business.
On her involvement in the oil and gas industry, she explained that through a friend she met while was still actively involved in the world of fashion, they got involved in the business of oil. There was an oil bloc no one wanted at that time for several reasons, it was this same oil bloc they got allocated. They were approached in late 1996 by the then oil giant Texaco who were sure the bloc had potentials as they had done their home work well, and after negotiations that spanned 3 months we all agreed on terms and the rest like they say is history. Later Texaco became Chevron and they struck oil in commercial quantity and were told the oil had been collecting in that field for 17 million years.
She became a more religious person at the age of 40 and from then on found passion in caring for the under-privileged. And this passion led to her establishing a foundation-Rose of Sharon Foundation. So her idea is to help provide a platform that aids by helping with interest free loans to at-least start a business or continue with one.