How One of The Richest Black Women In The World Did It With No College Degree

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downloadBy: Krystle Crossman

When you go to high school you are pushed to figure out which college you want to attend and what you would like to do with your life. They make college out to be something that you must do if you want to be successful. This is not always the case however. You can still be very successful in life without having a college degree under your belt. That is exactly what Folorunsho Alakija did. She is Nigeria’s wealthiest woman. She revealed recently that she never went to college but yet she has still managed to become a billionaire.

Forbes.com estimates that Alakija is worth $2.6 billion. She stresses that college is not the only way that you can be successful in life. She spoke to students at the University of Lagos at the 2014 U.N. International Youth Day and told them:

“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 did let the students know that a college degree was something that could definitely help them to be successful and that it would help them to get a better job and possibly higher salaries, but it was not a requirement. She told them that they can still reach their dream goals with persistence and hard work. She said that these are the two critical components to becoming the person that you wish to be.

When she was younger Alakija studied fashion design and secretarial studies in London. When she went back to Nigeria she was a secretary at a bank. While she was working for the bank she founded Supreme Stitches; a clothing company. The company took off and she began to cater to high-end clientele like the former first lady of Nigeria. She then acquired a license in oil prospecting in 1993 and formed the company Famfa Oil which now has a 60% stake in the oil field. On top of these businesses she has founded a foundation that helps widows and orphans. The foundation is called The Rose of Sharon Foundation.

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16 Comments

  1. I think people who talk against a college education think that college is just a road to success. I look at my college degrees as avenues for options. I felt my college degree helped me decide to quit my good paying job and start my own business. If I did not have my college degree I would have felt like that good paying job was my only option. I like having a college degree so much that went back to school to get a Masters. I plan to pursue a Doctorate while remaining my own boss. My personal experience with people who do not have a college degree has been that of being in the company of insecure people. People who are not college educated talk about how much they didn’t like school and how much success they will obtain without one. I just read between the lines and say to myself “You wish you had went to college.” Being college educated helps with your communication skills as well. The same people who talk against a college education break verbs, mispronounce words etc. I just sit there and listen. When my son was small I always told him he would graduate from college. Today my son is a three year Computer Engineering student. I hope he gets a Masters in his field immediately after graduating. One day my son will be my caregiver and I want to make sure he’s intelligent enough to make great decisions about my care.

    • That is great.. I have a Bachelor’s and that’s good enough for me but the more you know.. the more you.. education is great. . you need skills to make it in life and i feel sorry for those that don’t know anything. …not good at all and business isn’t easy either

    • Your “College Degree” didn’t do any of that; your education did. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg did not/do not have college degrees. They had a college education. But ANYONE has the ability to become “educated”. The key is defining what “education”. I can be as every bit of smart as someone who went to Harvard as long as I have an internet connection. There are plenty of college courses that are free one can take (online). The fact that you are saying your “College degree” made you successful, is false. An education is what made you successful.

  2. Its very tuff out there without a college degree, its seems like it as become the holy grail in my opinion, a college degree is like a second passport to the world of opportunity.

  3. I have a special place in my heart for people who became hundred millionaires and billionaires on a foundation other than “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks”.

    One thing I’ve always know tho: African people know entrepreneurship and they have a history of wealth, so, unlike the African Diaspora, they are less likely to be so desperate for money and feel so low and worthless without it that when they get it they either waste it or make bad investments with it and fail to give back to use it to lift their own people.

  4. Arneader, that’s not true its just not written, that you will be successful just because you went to college. The story is endless of how many successful people that are at least millionaires ( celebrities not included) whatever path you choose the key factor is to believe in yourself work hard, when you get knocked down get back up. Every successful person has that as a motto.

  5. Pursuing my Bachelor’s degree changed my life and opened doors in my field (social services) that otherwise would not be available to me. I encourage education and skills training of some sort. Becoming successful with or without a degree is ultimately up to the individual. However, my college experience helped me become a better public speaker and writer. I attended an HBCU, so that education from and about my people helped develop my self-esteem. I believe in self-education in addition to formal education. A four-year degree is not for everyone. Maybe a two-year degree suits you better or finding a career path that will allow you to move up based on skills training alone. Either way, we must continue to encourage education despite the costs.

  6. Police brutality against people of color is part of a world wide conspiracy to destroy our potential. This world wide conspiracy has accomplished it’s mission. Africans and people of color have been systematically destroyed! Africans and people of color need a plan (BIG TIME)! We have to do something BIG or perish from this planet.

  7. I am 45, I have 3 children and we live in Spain, english is not my first language but I wish to say something: the most important part of this article is when she says: ‘They make college out to be something that you MUST do’, and it is the same in Europe, unless now, while all our children can read and write and most of our young citizens have a degree, we live a crisis with very hight unemployment. Actually, the purposes for making us think that we needed to study more were others. I don’t know everything, but I can figure out 3 reasons, at least. One, certainly, is that the school business is a big buisness that has to mantain itself. The second is an evident program that aim to limite world population by reaching that people marry very late, and it can be interpretated in different ways (one is the ecohologist that think that there are too much humans destroying the planet, other is the complot idea that by reducing youth population the Power is likely to be able to control us better without facing many rebels). The third reason is that governments control what we must think and the lifestyle we must like through schooling, this means mind control upon us here and new colonisation for you there. I see that clearly in the way they promote the so called human rights, that aim to justify new invasions. They need us to agree and you to be weak. NOW: there are many ways to educate oneself, actually my children are homeschooled and I myself went to school only til I was 14. In my case, I used to be sorry because I wished to do what my friends were doing (study until university) unless no one of us really liked school, to get the degree, but my familiar situation was not good and also there were no schoolar programs for what I wished to study. So I started to work inmediatly as a waiter and other simple jobs, I became able to make decisions and manage a little income and I studied by myself in libraries. When my friends finished the school they saied: ‘Oh, I can’t believe that you speak 3 languages and know what you want, and we don’t’. They learned less, and, most important, they felt very unsure. While many of them were facing unemployment (sincerely, we have a lot of high professionals and almost no one can fix a broken car, nowadays; and also the professional’s skills are updated when they finish school due to new technologies) and their deep emotional weakness, I joined a group of explorers who created the path that I once wished to study (and now it has became a school carrer too). I literally did what I wanted in my life, due to the fact that I had to stay out of school and government programs. That’s amazing.

  8. College degrees are no tickets to wealth. They do, however, provide an avenue away from poverty.

    It is the high demand for a product that one produces that makes riches. A podiatrist or even a thoracic surgeon is not usually as rich as the guy who sells and fries fish!

    Market demand determines who gets the money.

  9. There is more to a college education than just getting a job. However, there is more to this story. The key is the ability to get involved in oil exploration. In Nigeria, this opportunity is not open to all, just the politically well connected. Nigeria oil industry has many ethically questionable aspects. Granted the lady took advantages of her opportunities. Wish her well.

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