Written by Steve Levine, this article first appeared on Quartz.com
There’s an upside to dressing the first lady of Nigeria. And it’s not what you think.
A Nigerian tycoon named Folorunsho Alakija has apparently just displaced Oprah Winfrey as the world’s wealthiest black woman. New surveys say Alakija is worth anywhere from $1.2 billion to $3.3 billion, depending on who’s counting.
The main source of Alakija’s wealth is a 60% stake in an offshore Nigerian oil company called Famfa Oil. (She also has interests in fashion and printing.)
Alakija’s path to those riches start in the UK, where she went to study fashion design in the 1980s. She returned to Nigeria to start out in business for herself with a high-end tailoring service called Supreme Stitches. Among her roster of clients was the country’s then-first lady.
Fast forward to 1993. Alakija’s proximity to the senior ranks of government meant that she, along with a clutch of generals and other officials, managed to obtain offshore prospecting licenses. Alakija partnered with Texaco to explore her block. In 2000, they discovered a 1-billion-barrel oilfield. The rest, as they say, is history.
UBS estimates that Alakija is worth $1.2 billion today. Ventures Africa says she has a $3.3 billion fortune. That puts her ahead of Winfrey, who is worth $3 billion, according to Forbes.