Nigeria’s wealthiest woman, Folorunsho Alakija, has disclosed that she did not attend a university, insisting that a formal education is not a requisite for success in life.
Alakija, who is worth $2.6 billion by Forbes estimates, reportedly made the disclosure Thursday, while addressing students at the University of Lagos during a ceremony to mark the 2014 U.N. International Youth Day.
“So I am 63 and I am not yet done. So what is your excuse? I never went to a university, and I am proud to say so because I don’t think I have done too badly,” she said during the motivational talk.
The Nigerian businesswoman explained to the students that while a university degree is important and can significantly improve one’s prospects in life, hard work and persistence were the most crucial tools for success.
“You do not have to have a university education to be able to make it, so count yourselves privileged to have that education as part of the feather in your cap,” Alakija said.
Alakija pursued secretarial studies and fashion design as a young woman in London and then returned to Nigeria to work as a secretary in a Merchant bank. She subsequently founded Supreme Stitches, a tailoring outfit that catered to upscale clientele, including Nigeria’s fashionable former first lady Maryam Babangida. In 1993, she acquired an oil prospecting license that granted her a lucrative block in Nigeria’s coastal waters. Her company, Famfa Oil, now holds a 60 percent stake in the oil field. She is also the founder of The Rose of Sharon Foundation, which provides support to orphans and widows.