Jeff Bezos’ wife, MacKenzie Bezos, will receive $38 billion after making their divorce official. MacKenzie will automatically reach the 22nd spot on the Forbes billionaires list. Nevertheless, only 12% of the 2,153 Forbes billionaires in 2019 are female. Moreover, only 27% of these women have earned their fortune on their own.
Thus, we are going to tell you the stories of the 10 richest self-made female entrepreneurs in the world. We believe that everyone has something to learn from these great ladies. Intrigued? Let’s start then.
10. Oprah Winfrey: $2.6B
Who doesn’t know Oprah? One of the world’s most famous TV hosts and media owners. Her eponymous show was running for 25 years, and ended in 2011. Now, she owns a television channel, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and a magazine.
The richest woman and a prominent philanthropist, Oprah was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, into the family of a maid and a miner. Having experienced sexual abuse, Oprah became pregnant when she was 14, but her child passed away shortly after birth.
However, such incredibly difficult childhood didn’t prevent Oprah from succeeding in life. She started her career as a journalist in a small local media outlet. Later, Oprah became the host of the morning news show in Baltimore. In 1986, she started her own show — the Oprah Winfrey Show — which eventually made her rich and famous. Oprah says: “We cannot become what we want to be while remaining what we are”. And it’s so true.
9. Judy Love: $2.9B
Judy was born in 1937 in Oklahoma. She met her future husband Tom Love while studying at the University of Oklahoma.
The couple founded their family business — Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores. They now own a huge number of locations in 40 states. The Love family got a chance to set up their own company thanks to the $5,000 investment from Tom’s parents. In 2016, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores revenue amounted to more than $16 billion. So, never reject your relatives’ help.
8. Giuliana Benetton: $3.1B
She is a co-founder of the world-famous Benetton Group. She owns the company together with her brothers Luciano and Carlo. Being launched as a small store in Belluno, today Benetton is a global fashion brand (United Colors of Benetton) with more than 5,000 stores worldwide.
A yellow pullover knitted by Giuliana for her brother Luciano generated much response and actually pushed them to start a family business. This is how one of the world’s leading clothing companies was born. Today, the firm is also famous for its sports sponsorship. For example, the company backs the Benetton team in Formula 1.
Throughout the company’s history, Giuliana has been taking a major part in planning the marketing campaigns for Benetton.
7. Zhou Qunfei: $3.3B
Having started her career as a migrant worker at a factory, Zhou Qunfei is now one of the world’s richest female entrepreneurs. Zhou founded her company, Lens Technology, in a relatives’ apartment in 1993. Then, the company produced watch parts.
In 2003, Lens Technology received an offer from Motorola to create an innovative touchscreen. From this point on, the company’s popularity has started growing. At the moment, Lens Technology is the world’s leading producer of touchscreens, having Samsung, Microsoft, and LG as their customers.
6. Marian Ilitch: $3.7B
There’s another example of a family business. In the 1960s, Marian and her husband, Mike Ilitch, founded the Little Caesars pizza house in Detroit, Michigan. Little Caesars used to have unusual packaging for pizza and an option to put additional chicken, fish, shrimps, and hot sausages in it, which was their main edge over competitors.
At the moment, Little Caesar Enterprises Inc. is the third largest pizza chain in the USA after Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza.
Marian is now running the business on her own after her husband passed away in 2017. She also owns Ilitch Holdings Inc. that helped the business expand into the sports and entertainment industries. Ilitch Holdings backs the NHL team, the Detroit Red Wings, and the MLB team, the Detroit Tigers.
5. Judith Faulkner: $3.9B
Judy was born in 1943 into the family of pharmacist Louis Greenfield. This was her parents who fostered her interest in healthcare.
In 1979, Judy established Human Services Computing. Later, the company became known as Epic Systems. Judy received only a $70,000 investment from her relatives, and never accepted any money from either venture funds or private individuals. In fact, this is a unique case, because Epic Systems remained in the Faulkner family’s private ownership and never came under anyone’s influence.
In 2013, Forbes called Judy “the most powerful woman in healthcare”. Fair enough.
4. Chen Lihua: $5.8B
Chen Lihua was born to a wealthy family in 1941. Nevertheless, she created and grew her business on her own.
Today, Chen Lihua is a chairman of China’s largest real estate developer Fu Wah International Group, with headquarters in Beijing. In recent years, the company has expanded beyond China and invested in Australian and New Zealand projects.
3. Diane Hendricks: $7.2B
Diane Hendricks is the richest female entrepreneur in the USA. She founded her company ABC Supply with her spouse Ken back in 1982.
ABC is the largest distributor of windows & roofing products in the United States with the annual sales of more than $7 billion.
In 2007, Diane’s husband passed away. Since then, she has been managing the company on her own. Under her leadership, the company expanded and acquired competitor Bradco and building gear supplier L&W Supply. These two deals are the largest acquisitions in the company’s history. Now, Diane is ABC Supply’s chairperson.
2. Denise Coates: $9.2B
This is a great example of how your love for online casino can make you rich. Denise Coates was born in Sandbach, Cheshire, England in 1967. Her father, Peter Coates, is a chairman of the Stoke City Football Club. The fact that Denise was born in a rich family has certainly become a good springboard for her. Nevertheless, her success as an entrepreneur isn’t related to the wealth of her family, but solely to her own skills.
Coates is a co-owner of one of the leading gaming companies in the world. Annually, the company’s turnover hits the incredible figures of around $65 billion. This makes Denise one of the richest women in the world.
Denise became even more famous in 2018 after she paid herself a record-breaking salary of $280 million. This is 27 times more than Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, earned in 2018.
1. Wu Yajun: $10.9B
Well, here we come to the wealthiest woman on our list. Wu Yajun is the third richest person in China and the 22nd richest person in the world. How has she achieved this?
Wu spent years working at a factory with a monthly salary of $16. She also worked as a journalist until she dived in the real estate business. Wu Yajun founded her own company in 1994. Now, Longfor Properties is a leading Chinese real-estate development company that is a workplace for 7,374 employees.
In 1997, Longfor sold their first development project for $157 per square meter. At that time, it was almost twice the average market price. Another factor that influenced Longfor’s rapid growth was the fact that Wu’s company became the first to start building shopping malls in China.
Wu Yajun keeps her life away from the public eye. Answering the question of why she leads such a low-key lifestyle, Wu said that she was a simple person who thought about her business in the first place, and had nothing to say to people.
In November 2018, Wu Yajun handed over all her shares to her daughter.
A final word
All these women had different paths of life, different motivation to start their business, and different end goals. However, these female entrepreneurs also have one feature in common — their dedication to what they are doing. If you are passionate about something, you should invest all your time and effort to prosper. Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to take risks.