3 Influential Business Women in Nigeria

These women have made their marks in the business world, not just in Nigeria but globally. Their strength in building their businesses and homes at the same time is admirable. Surviving the high competition level against the male business counterparts is not one that comes so easy. Over the years, they have pursued passion and dreams, to become influential business women in Nigeria and the world at large. Many others have become household names but we look into the lives of these three:



The 66 year old mother of 4 has remained on Forbes list with a net worth of $1.63B. She is the Vice Chairman of Famfa Oil, one of the largest indigenous Nigerian owned exporters of crude oil in Nigeria. Folorunsho Alakija was born on July 15 1951 in Ikorodu, Lagos State. Her father had 8 wives and 52 children, and she was the second surviving child, and her mum was the first wife. At 7, she went to school in Wales, and returned to Nigeria at 11 at the request of her parents. In 1974, she was an Executive Secretary at Sijuade Enterprises. She moved on to the former First National Bank of Chicago, later FinBank, now acquired by FCMB.  Folorunsho married her husband in 1976 and in 1984, she went to the UK to study Fashion Designing. Her involvement in the fashion world started earlier when she helped out her mum who was a fabric merchant. After a year, Folorunsho returned to Nigeria and started her fashion house – Supreme Stitches. In 1986, she emerged the best designer in the country and became prominent as Rose of Sharon House of Fashion. Folorunsho’s involvement in the oil industry began in 1996 after when she was allocated an Oil Prospecting License (OPL) to explore oil. In 2014, Folorunsho unseated Oprah Winfrey as the richest black woman. According to Forbes, she remains the richest woman in Nigeria, and the third richest person in Nigeria.



Hajia Bola Shagaya was born on October 10, 1959. She is a native of Kwara State. Bola had her primary and secondary education in Ilorin before heading to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to study Economics cum Accountancy.

Her career started with the Central Bank of Nigeria, working in the audit department before she ventured into business in 1983, which began with the importation and distribution of photography materials. Bola is the Managing Director of Practoil Limited, one of the largest importers and distributors of base oil in Nigeria. She was and still is on the board of Unity Bank Plc; she is also a member of the Nepad Business Group. In 2016, she was awarded by the President the title of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON). Bola is a fashion and art enthusiast; and a patron of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN).

Her businesses cover investments in real estate. According to Forbes, Bola Shagaya is the second richest woman in Nigeria after Folorunsho Alakija.



Mosunmola relocated with her parents to Lagos state from UK at age seven, where she stayed with her grandparents on the cocoa fram in Ondo state. At 12, shortly her father died, she relocated to the UK to continue her education. Abudu finished her master’s degree in HR Mangement from the University of Westminster, London.

Her career started off as a recruitment consultant in the UK in 1987. She proceeded to work for the Starform Group, managing the Corporate Credit Management Exhibition from 1990 to 1992. In 1993, she headed the Human Resources and Training unit of Esso Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited, now ExxonMobil. She left in 2000 to establish a specialist HR development company. She started EbonyLife TV, a network airing in more than 49 countries across Africa; she is also the Executive Producer & host of a TV talk show, Moments with Mo.

The talk show host and entrepreneur has been described by Forbes as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman”. She was also recognized by Forbes as the first African woman to own a Pan-Africa TV channel in 2013. She was listed as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Global TV by the Hollywood Reporter (2013) and received the Entrepreneur of the Year award by Women Werk in New York (2014).

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