The 67-year-old was born into a wealthy, polygamous Nigerian family. After being a secretary at the International Merchant Bank of Nigeria, she subsequently quit her job in the early 80s and proceeded to study Fashion design in England. When she returned to Nigeria, she started Supreme Stitches, a Nigerian fashion label which had customers including the wife of former Nigerian president Ibrahim Babangida.
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With her closeness to power, Alakija acquired an oil prospecting license, which has been the foundation of her wealth today. Africa’s second richest woman, who often urges women not to take no for an answer while pursuing their dreams, recently shared how she got the oil bloc.
“The oil block allocated and licensed to us was not wanted by any oil company; we accepted it by faith and it has become the chief cornerstone in West African and Africa as a whole.
“The Government came back to “take” 50% out of our 60%, but after a 12-year battle in court, all was restored to the glory of God.
Today, Alakija, with a net worth of $1.6 billion is the vice chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company with a stake in Agbami oil field, a prolific offshore asset. Famfa Oil’s partners include Chevron and Petrobras.