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BY Abu Mubarik, 3:30pm December 23, 2022,

Meet the three people who joined the Black billionaires’ club in 2022

Rihanna, Tope Awotona and Michael Lee-Chin. Photos: Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock/Shoppe Black/African American Registry

Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaire list for 2022 welcomed 236 newcomers from 34 different countries. China and America dominated the list with 52 and 50 debutants respectively. 

Of the 236 newcomers, these three were Blacks. They are Michael Lee-Chin, singer Rihanna, and tech founder Tope Awotona.  

Below is how they made their fortune:

Michael Lee-Chin (ranked 1783)

Michael Lee-Chin has a net worth of $1.6 billion. His wealth comes from his 60% stake in National Commercial Bank Jamaica via Portland Holdings, according to Forbes.

The 71-year-old made money through investments in financial firms like the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica and AIC Limited. In 1987, he acquired the wealth management and mutual fund, AIC, when it managed less than $1 million in assets. And by 2002, the firm had over $10 billion in assets.

However, following the economic recession in 2008, he sold the firm to Manulife, a Canadian financial services group for an unstated price. Besides his stake of 60% in National Commercial Bank, the self-made billionaire has a stake in other companies.

According to Jamaicans, he has a stake in Columbus Communications, Sauce Cable Company, Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline, Radio Jamaica, the Reggae Beach Resort, Trident Hotel, Senvia Money Services, and Wallenford Coffee. Lee-Chin was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, to Aston Lee and Hyacinth Gloria Chin, who are both biracial African and Chinese-Jamaicans. He later found his way to Canada in search of greener pastures.

While in Canada, he made over 100+ applications that were rejected as an immigrant in Canada in 1977 without resources. He initially worked as a bouncer and today he has a net worth of over $1 billion. He has a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree from Canada’s McMaster University where he studied civil engineering. 

Rihanna (ranked 2016)

Barbados singer Rihanna debuted on Forbes’ list of billionaires in 2022 with a net worth of $1.4 billion. She is also officially the youngest self-made billionaire woman in America. She placed 21st position on the prestigious Forbes list and is the only billionaire under 40 years of age.

As per Forbes, the majority of Rinana’s fortune comes from her Fenty Beauty business while the rest comes from her stake in her lingerie company, Savage x Fenty, worth an estimated $270 million, and her earnings from music and acting.

She founded Fenty Beauty in 2017 in her bid to create a cosmetic company that made “women everywhere (feel) included” in partnership with luxury goods company LVMH. The cosmetic line initially sold foundation shades and later expanded to include lipstick, lip gloss, body glitter, and more. In its first year of operation, Fenty Beauty generated more than $550 million. In 2019, Rihanna became the first Black woman to create a clothing brand for LVMH called Fenty and also announced new high-end clothing, shoes, and accessories.

Aside from her cosmetic business, Rihanna has earned millions of dollars from endorsement deals from brands and companies like River Island, Mac, Armani, and Balmain. In 2014, she signed a $1 million endorsement deal to work as Puma’s creative director.

Rihanna is also into real estate. She buys properties and resells them for a profit. She reportedly acquired a mansion in LA at $6.8 million and resold it for $7.4 million. Months ago, she acquired a Beverly Hill mansion for $13 million. Also, she recently acquired a $10 million home next to her Beverly Hill mansion.

The singer also owns other luxury properties, including a mansion in her native Barbados, a $6.8 million villa in the Hollywood Hills, and a high-floor flat in L.A.’s Wilshire Corridor. Her main residence, however, remains a $5.2 million condo unit at Century City’s exclusive The Century condo complex, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Rihanna is regarded as one of the most publicly charitable celebrities. She was named Harvard Humanitarian of the Year in 2017 for her work supporting education and health care in the Caribbean and developing countries. 

She recently donated $5 million to various organizations assisting with coronavirus relief efforts. Other charitable works by her include giving $1 million to New York’s needy, $2.1 million to abuse victims in L.A., and $5 million to other charities through the Clara Lionel Foundation.

Tope Awotona (ranked 2033)

Tope Awotona, the Nigerian-born techpreneur and founder of scheduling app Calendly, is one of the newest billionaires’ on Frobes self-made richest list. It said Awotona is now one of just two Black tech billionaires in the U.S., along with 70-year-old David Steward, the founder of Missouri-based IT provider World Wide Technology. Steward founded World Wide Technology with a shoestring budget, and with seven employees. Today, the firm is one of the largest Black-owned IT providers in the U.S. with more than 20 locations across the world. The company provides services for both the American government and private organizations. 

Awotona, 40, started Calendly in Atlanta nine years ago using his life savings of $200,000 before ditching his job selling software for EMC. Calendly is designed to make the process of finding meeting times easy. Currently, about 10 million people use the platform monthly since it was created, making it very popular. The popularity of the app was attributed to the rising number of people working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Calendly is used by the majority of Fortune 500 companies as well as nearly all companies in the SaaS 1000. Ancestry.com, Indiana University and Lift are among its customers.

Awotona’s background

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, into a middle-class family, Awotona’s father was a microbiologist and entrepreneur while his mother worked at the central bank. At 12, Awotona witnessed his father get shot and killed in a carjacking. By age 15, he had moved with his family to Atlanta, studying computer science at the University of Georgia before going into business and management information. 

He then sold software for tech companies such as EMC and started some businesses that didn’t do well before founding Calendly. “Our profitable, unique, product-led growth model has led to Calendly becoming the most used, most integrated, most loved scheduling platforms for individuals and large enterprises alike,” Awotona told reporters after his platform raised $350 million in funding last year.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: December 23, 2022


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