Ranked by Forbes, American business magazine as the richest black woman and the 96th most powerful woman in the world, Folorunsho Alakija has come a long way.
The Ikorodu-born billionaire started out as a secretary, a banker, and later a fashion designer before she made fortune in oil & gas. On Wednesday, the 63-year-old MD/CEO Famfa Oil & Rose of Sharon Group was the guest speaker at the Nigerian Commemoration of United Nations International Youth Day held at the Main Auditorium, University of Lagos, Akoka where she spoke on how she achieved such a feat. Excerpt:
“I come from Ikorodu, Lagos state. I am married to a dashing young lawyer of 70 years of age. And we have four grown up gentlemen and grandchildren. But it has not been a rag to riches fairytale.
It has not been an overnight phenomenon like in some cases, which you find here and there all over the world.
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted my own business. Hard work, I am trying to tell you how I got to where I am, if you want those millions.
Hard work, diligence, persistence, days when you nearly gave up but I never gave up. It would have been easy to compromise but I chose not to and I stayed focus.
I could have stayed a secretary as my father desired according to his plan for me but I had bigger aspirations. I dreamt big.
God strengthened me and gave me wisdom. I had a passion and burning desire to succeed. Being a secretary, a banker, a fashion icon, a corporate promoter and printer, a real estate owner, an oil magnate, that I can assure you was no easy feat.
Firm belief, that what is worth doing is what doing well or not doing at all. I took charge of my life with the tools I have shared with you.
I chose to become born again at the age of 40. I chose to make a covenant with God that if he would bless me, I would work for him all the days of my life.
I chose to hold on to the cross and look up to him every step of the way. Today additional accomplishment includes a wife of almost 40 years, a mother, grandmother, ministry, counseling, outreach, NGO Rose of Sharon Foundation for widows and Author, writer, author of several inspirational books.
All I say to the glory of God. So I am 63 and I am not yet done. So what is your excuse? I never went to a University and I am proud to say so because I don’t think I have done too badly. You do not have to have a University education to be able to make it so count yourselves privileged to have that education as part of the feather in your cap.”