Zhou Qunfei, Net worth $7.7 billion
Zhou Qunfei is the founder and CEO of Lens Technology, the leading manufacturer of the glass for touchscreen devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Qunfei grew up in poverty in the Hunan province of China with her father and two older siblings after the death of her mother when she was only five years old. At 16 she dropped out of school to move to Shenzhen to become a fashion designer, but ended up working at a factory to support herself through university. Now, with a net-worth of $7.7 billion, she is the richest self-made woman in the world.
Oprah Winfrey, Net Worth $3 billion
For over 30 years, Oprah Winfrey has created a brand for herself as a multimedia icon in both television and film; she is the “Queen of All Media.” Growing up in rural Mississippi, her career in media began at age 19 with various jobs at local news stations before going on to host her now legendary show. She reinvented what a “talk show” was; instead of limiting it to tabloids and celebrity news, Winfrey focused on self-improvement, geo-politics and spirituality. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2013 for her philanthropy work and contributions to the education and preservation of African-American culture.
Giuliana Benetton, Net worth $2.7 billion
The second eldest of four, Giuliana Benetton’s life began humblly, living in Italy and working to support her mother after the death of her father. Her talent of making unique and brightly colored knit sweaters kickstarted the family’s success in fashion. Before catching the eye of investors, Benetton’s older brother Luciano would peddle her clothes throughout Treviso to make money. She is now the chairperson and chief designer of one of the largest fashion companies in Italy, The Benetton Group. The company is known for their vibrant colors and progressive—often controversial—ad campaigns featuring interracial couples and advocacy for AIDS awareness.
Jin Sook Chang, Net worth $1.9 billion
Jin Sook Chang is just one example of immigrant success. At age 25, Chang and her husband Don left South Korea and moved to Los Angeles in 1981, where both worked odd jobs to support themselves. Just three years after their move, the couple opened their first clothing store, originally named Fashion 21, in Highland Park. Now Forever 21, the company has expanded greatly with over 700 locations worldwide. The stores’ feature designs are inspired by Korean culture, with products ranging from clothing to accessories for both women and men.
Folorunsho Alakija, Net worth $1.6 billion
Folorunsho Alakija grew up in Nigeria. She travelled to London several times for her education, beginning with primary school when she was seven and then again in later years for her college studies, when she took an interest in secretarial work and fashion design. In her time after school, she has worked for FinBank, has established her own tailoring company called Supreme Stitches, and has become the first female Chancellor of Bola Ige University in Nigeria. Most of her wealth lies in her company Famfa Limited, one of the largest crude oil exporters in Nigeria.