Also a fashion designer and philanthropist, Alakija is married and has four grown sons, as well as one grandchild. She owns at least $100 million in real estate and a $46 million private jet.
Born into a wealthy Nigerian family, Alakija started out as a secretary in the mid 1970s at the now defunct International Merchant Bank of Nigeria. Several years later, she quit her job and moved to London, where she studied fashion design. She later returned to Nigeria and launched her fashion line, Supreme Stitches, which caters to upscale, high-society women.
While she was building her name as a fashion designer, Alakija in 1993 applied for an Oil Prospecting License -- an expensive permit that allows for oil exploration in a specified area. The Nigerian government granted her request and allocated a 617,000-acre block of land to Alakija for oil exploration -- but she knew nothing about finding and extracting oil.
So in September of 1996, she appointed Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited -- a subsidiary of Texaco -- to act as a technical adviser for her business. In 2000, Star Deep Petroleum determined that Alakija's land contained an excess of one billion barrels of oil.
Alakija's sons now run Famfa Oil and her husband, Modupe Alakija, is the chairman of the company.
She recently purchased a $102 million property at One Hyde Park in London, as well as a Bombardier Global Express 6000 jet, which she bought earlier this year for $46 million.
Her charity, Rose of Sharon Foundation, gives out small grants to widows and orphans. (Business Day, 12/5/2012)