If you are reading this piece today; I want to tell you that very soon, you shall also be celebrated. We have been on the tour of writing biography of successful entrepreneurs around the world. Today I will be writing about our very own world famous Folorunsho Alakija.
Foloeunsho Alakila, probably was born in a well to do family but her childhood experience was not better than ours as a child. She was born in Ikorodu, Lagos Nigeria; in the year 1951 into a large family. Her dad was a polygamist with eight wives; her mother being the first wife. She was the second surviving child of her mother with 51 siblings. Just like most of us she was taught etiquette and how to sit at the table as a child.
At the age of 7, she went abroad with her younger sister to study in Wales as a growing child. She and her sister were the only black children in her private school in Northern Wales. After four years abroad their parent requests them to come back to Nigeria; by them she was 11 years old.
Folorunsho Alakija, started her career in 1974 as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria. Later she moved to the former First National Bank of Chicago, now FinBank presently acquired by First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
Her mom used to be a fabric merchant and she used to help out, and through that she learnt a lot. After leaving the corporate world in 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 Nigeria. Not too long she became the national president and lifelong trustee of the Fashion Designsers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), she left an indelible mark, promoting culture through fashion and style.
On marriage- She got married in 1976 to her loving husband and between them they have 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. At that time there was an oil bloc no one wanted at that time for several reasons, it was this same oil bloc they got allocated. Then they were approached in late 1996 by the then oil giant Texaco who were sure the bloc had potentials after several research on the bloc, 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 we struck oil in commercial quantity and we were told the oil had been collecting in that field for 17 million years. We consider ourselves lucky that we were allocated that particular oil field. That’s the early history of FAMFA OIL.
She became a more religious person at the age of 40 & from then on found passion in caring for the under-privileged. And this passion led to her establishing a foundation-Rose of Sharon Foundation. The foundation’s main focus is in helping widows, orphans and their families an way possible, she believes there is a particular stigma widows face that affects them adversely.
A most welcomed development we think, if a few more of our well to do (rich, wealthy) would endeavor to stand in the gap and help the less privileged then the world would be a much better place to live in. Her foundation also hopes to do more, by building schools or vocational centers.