Africa’s richest woman claims that higher education is not compulsory for success

by Developed Africa 11. September 2014 09:00

In a speech given to students at the University of Lagos during the 2014 UN International Youth’s Day, Folorunsho Alakija, chairwoman of Famfa Oil, prized hard work and persistence above the value of a university degree in terms of importance to future success. In a country where competition for university places is fierce, with 1.7 million students competing for half a million available places this year, her words may act as encouragement for the over a million qualified, university-age Nigerians who have been unsuccessful in gaining postsecondary places. She recommended that students avoid depending simply on their degree for their future, stating that “you do not have to have a university education to be able to make it”, but did acknowledge the potential advantage that such a qualification may confer, telling students to:

 count yourselves privileged to have that education as part of the feather in your cap”.

 Alakija began work in the 1970’s as a secretary, going on to create her own fashion line, gaining clients such as former first lady Maryam Babandiga, before moving into the oil industry. Now 63, the mother of four is said to be worth $2.7 billion (£1.7 billion), and has credited perseverance as the key to her success, stating that:

It has not been a rag to riches fairytale”.


Alakaji is also the founder of the Rose of Sharon Foundation, an NGO that provides scholarships and business grants to widows and orphans.


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