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Monday, February 13, 2012




The delight-some lady behind such brands like Supreme Stitches, Rose of Sharon and Executive Director at FAMFA Oil, an indigenous Nigerian oil and gas exploration and production company, which is owned by her family was on CNN African Voices 2 days ago. She was interviewed by the crew of African Voices at her beautiful apartment located at Knightsbridge in the UK.

The eponymously named Knightsbridge is the district where some of the super-duper rich of London resides, it comprises of the south of Hyde Park, the east of South Kensington and West of Sloane Street. It is known to be an ultra-expensive residential area. 

We loved that gorgeously black grand piano that was showing behind her as the revealing interview was going on. Always stylish and on point, the gorgeous Philanthropist, former award winning designer of note and now oil magnate revealed her background, highlighting her growing up years, her educational background, her foray into the business of oil and the journey prior to hitting oil in commercial quantity. As an introduction, the producers of the show-CNN African voices described-Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija as a Nigerian Billionaire.

 Hear her- “I am a proud Nigerian". On how she started- I started as a secretary, a career path chosen for me by my dad. I was the personal secretary to a bank MD. The first corporate affairs person, at the now defunct IMB. She later moved on from the corporate affairs department to the treasury department of the same company, it was from here she later moved on to set up her own business. 

Talking about why she took up fashion and her fashion sense, she credits that to her family. 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 the early 80's (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 and a year after establishing the company, she emerged as the best Designer in the country in 1986.

Talking about her upbringing and growing up years- she said she was born in 1951 into a large family, her dad had 8 wives and 52 children in his lifetime and she was the second surviving child, her mom was the first wife.  Quoting her, I had a very happy childhood and enjoyed my upbringing, was taught etiquette and how to sit at the table. She and her younger sister were sent to school abroad when she was 7 years old. They went to a school in Wales, a private school for girls in Northern Wales, and they were the only coloured (black) girls in the school. And because their fellow mates couldn't pronounce their names, they coined them names-Flo for Folorunsho and Doyle for Doyin. They were in the school for 4 years, and at age 11 she and Doyle moved back to Nigeria at the request of their parents who didn't want them to lose their African values, culture and tradition.

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. There was an oil bloc no one wanted at that time for several reasons, it was this same oil bloc they got allocated. They were approached in late 1996 by the then oil giant Texaco who were sure the bloc had potentials as they had done their home work well, 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. 


On philanthropy- 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 any which way possible, she believes there is a particular stigma widows face that affects them adversely, so her idea is to be a stop gap for these marginalised set, who by African culture and tradition lose out immediately after the death of their husbands. So her idea is to help provide a platform that aids by helping with interest free loans to at-least start a business or continue with one.  A most welcomed development we think, if a few more of our well to do (rich, wealthy) would endeavour 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 centres.

Her achievements till date and her philosophy on life and hopes for the future are all in a book- The hand that gives a rose which would be launched soon.

Kudos to her, we must say.


Nigeria Business said...

This is actually a good news for Nigerians. Folorunsho Alakija, a humble lady has shown us all in Nigeria that we can become someone if we are dedicated and believe in our dreams.
This is a good article that I will like to share on my twitter and facebook page.

Anonymous said...

Do you know if she has a fan contact page. or a way she can be contacted?

Anonymous said...

Huh! What a wealthy and humble woman! Enjoy ur wealth when you are still young.