According to Forbes, there are only 13 Black billionaires in the world. From South Africa to Mississippi, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing our favorite artists, creators, and leaders go from humble beginnings to billionaire status.
As the world sits in such change and uncertainty, I wonder what we could learn from our black billionaires. What can we learn from their stories? What words can they share with us about change, success, and failure that will not only push us into a better mindset, but prepare us for the pathway to generational, black wealth?
Below are five of the wealthiest black people in the world. In their stories are wisdom and triumphs of how they made it to billionaire status.
Worlds Wealthiest Black Billionaire – Worth $10.6 billion
Alike Dangote is a Nigerian businessman and the richest person in Africa. The founder and chairman of the Dangote Group, an industrial conglomerate, he has an estimated net worth of 8.3 billion. At the age of 21, Aliko Dangote borrowed $3,000 from his uncle to import and sell agricultural commodities in Nigeria, his native country. His business venture quickly became a success, and as a result, he managed to repay the entire loan within three months of starting operations.
“I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me thirty years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.”
“Every morning when I wake up, I make up my mind to solve as many problems as I can, before retiring home.”
The Wealthiest Black Billionaire in the United States – Worth $5 billion
You may know Robert Smith as the man who announced that he and his family would pay off the entire student loan debt of the 2019 Morehouse College graduating class of 396 students.
As a high schooler, Smith convinced Bell Labs to give him an internship even though they were reserved for college students. He went on to study at Cornell and Columbia universities, and he worked at Goldman Sachs before starting his own investment firm. In 2000, he founded Vista Equity Partners, which invests in software companies and has been a major factor in his billionaire status.
“Every day I need you to set a new goal.”
“You can’t be all things to everyone and still be effective.”
“Not everyone wants to make the sacrifice in the trade-off to become wealthier, and the first part of that trade-off is savings and investment and time.”
The Wealthiest Black Woman in Africa – Worth $1.1 billion
Alakija started her career in 1974 as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria. She moved to the former First National Bank of Chicago, which later became FinBank now acquired by FCMB where she worked for some years before establishing a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches.
She is now the vice chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian exploration company with a stake in Agbami Oilfield, a prolific offshore asset.
“I did not start from here. I started on a small scale. When I was working for someone else, I spent my weekends buying and selling. I sold jewelry. I sold scarfs. My husband was also doing some buying and selling. Yet, he is a lawyer.”
“I never went to a university and I am proud to say so because I don’t think I have done too badly.”
“Sacrifice daily to go the extra mile, utilize your talents, consistently focus on your goals, have credibility and reliability – ignorance can be expensive. Educate and retrain yourself. Say no to those who try to bring you down, and seek ye first the kingdom of God.”
Wealthiest Black Woman In The World & The United States – Worth $2.7 billion
We know who Oprah is, but in case you need a refresher, Oprah is an American media mogul, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Born in an isolated farm in Mississippi, she started out as a news anchor and became well known for her multi award winning talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show.
She later established her own production company that grew into a billion dollar company inspiring millions around the world.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
“Turn your wounds into wisdom”
“When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”
“You can have it all. Just not all at once.”
The Newest Black Billionaire
Many of us know Tyler Perry as the actor, writer, and producer who tells stories of Black America on film and television. From the advice of fellow billionaire Oprah, Tyler Perry controls every aspect of his production, and has generated 1.4 billion dollars through his films, tv shows, and production studio Tyler Perry Studios.
What started as a stage play back in 2005, has turned into a now billion dollar operation telling stories and creating spaces for black artists.
“People ask me all the time, how did you make it? I say it all the time but people cut it out…it was nothing but the grace of God.”
“I’ve never chased money. It’s always been about what I can do to motivate and inspire people.”
“I don’t think dreams die – I think people give up.”