Africa Leaders Magazine

FOLORUNSO ALAKIJA – A Force to Reckon with in the Petroleum Capital of Africa.

As vice vice-chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company with a stake in the prolific Agbami Oilfield, the question beckons that who is Folorunsho Alakija?


Alakija was born on 15 July 1951 to an upper-middle-class family; her father was Chief L. A. Ogbara of Ikorodu, Lagos State. Alakija attended her nursery education at Our Ladies of Apostles, Lagos from 1955 to 1958. At the age seven, Alakija traveled 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 attended “Muslim High School” in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria. She then returned to England for her secretarial studies at Pitman’s Central College, London.


Alakija started her career in 1974 as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria shortly after completing a Secretarial Course at Pitman’s Central College London. She 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 became the new Head of the Corporate Affairs Department of the International Merchant Bank of Nigeria (formerly First National Bank of Chicago) and later became the Office Assistant to the Treasury Department. Shortly after her career in the banking world which lasted for 12 years, Alakija took up a new challenge which was driven by her passion for Fashion to study fashion design at The American College in London and the Central School of Fashion. After her return to Nigeria, she started 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, like Rose of Sharon House of Fashion, it 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 approximately 350 kilometers (220 miles) southeast of Lagos and 110 kilometers (70 miles) offshore of Nigeria in the Agbami Field of the central Niger Delta. In September 1996, Alakija 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.

After they struck oil, the Nigerian government claimed a 40% stake, followed by an additional 10%. The government’s argument was if Alakija and family were allowed to keep their bloc, they stood to make $10 million a day. Alakija disputed this claim and won.


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.

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.


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.


Need some tips, Apostle Folorunso Alakija has a lot for you. Here are seven (7) of them;

  1. Make sacrifices.

This is a great one to remember and why it’s at the top of the list. Alakija has often emphasized the need to give something before getting what you want. According to her, there is no success without sacrifice and this fact. “In anything that you desire to do, you must be ready to go the extra by making a sacrifice,” she said.

  1. Utilise your time and talent.

You may have heard the advice to put your energy towards utilizing your time and talent, and this is true. Time, talent, and treasure are all currencies we use to get things done. This framework helps us discover our gits and actively utilize them to our advantage.

  1. You must have a goal.

To be successful, you have to take pressure away from rewards and focus on doing things that matter to you. Yes, it’s good to set goals. But don’t just settle if you fail! “You have to be focused and direct your mind towards achieving that goal,” she said.

  1. Credibility, Reliability, and Responsibility.

To cultivate credibility and reliability as an individual, you must build trust, earn trust and get trust. If people like you, they will trust you, and if they trust you, they will do business with you. “If you’re running a business and you’re not credible or reliable, it’s impossible to be successful. You cannot just wake up and claim it; you just have to be it.”

  1. Educate yourself.

“To be successful, you have to educate yourself. Even if you don’t have sponsors to pay for your education, still try to get a job and use the funds to get an Education. Once you complete your education, make sure to add some training skills to match your experience.” This is easier said than done, especially if you struggle with confidence. But give it a go at least once; you may be surprised by the result!

  1. Say ‘NO’ to naysayers.

Alakija has tried to compress the most important lessons she’s learned in her life, and among the great advice is this gem: “Practice saying NO to people who say you can’t do something. You cannot become successful if you allow the noise of the world to drown you out.”

  1. Nothing is impossible.

Alakija often states some version of this quote in interviews, discussing how important it is to say YES’ more and take risks. “There’s no limit to what anyone can achieve in life. The sky is the limit if you set your heart out to do what you want to achieve. If people are going to the moon, who says it can’t be you next?”


Alakija married a lawyer, Modupe Alakija of the Adeyemo Alakija family, in November 1976. They reside in Lagos, Nigeria, with their four son and their grandchildren.

In June 2017, Folorunso’s son Folarin Alakija married Iranian model Nazanin Jafarian Ghaissarifar in a wedding at Blenheim Palace in England. Media reports suggested the event was one of the world’s most expensive weddings.



source: Wikipedia, BusinessInsiderafrica, Forbes

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