Less than 4% of the planet’s billionaires are self-made women. These 10 moguls beat the odds.
f the world’s 2,668 billionaires, just 327 are women–and most of them inherited their great wealth. But 101 women, including 11 who share a fortune with their spouse, made it themselves.
These self-made women are worth a combined $331 billion, and they got rich in everything from petrochemicals and roofing to casinos and Little Caesar's pizza.
It was a down year for billionaires in general, with 87 fewer faces on Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list in 2022. The number of self-made women fell too, by 7, thanks in part to notable drop-offs like Bumble cofounder Whitney Wolfe Herd and Chinese vaping tycoon Kate Wang, both of whom were newcomers last year.
There are 45 self-made women from China (compared to a record-breaking 57 last year)–including real estate developer Chan Laiwa, and soy sauce moguls Li Xuhui and Cheng Xue–more than in any other country on the planet. And some of these women saw their fortunes increase by more than 50% due to rising stock prices. A 79% rise in the stock price of Qiu Minxiu’s semiconductor business, Zhejiang Jingsheng Mechanical & Electrical, brings her fortune to an estimated $2.5 billion–$1.2 billion higher than last year.
China has also minted 3 new self-made women billionaires this year. One is Lu Yiwen, cofounder of Darry Ring. The company, which went public in December, claims it limits customers to only one engagement ring in their lifetime because “true love is everlasting.” Miranda Qu, the cofounder of the e-commerce website Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book), is also new. Qu’s store, which has collaborated with big names like L’Oreal, has been described as a mix between Instagram and Amazon.
Second to China is the United States, with 24 self-made women billionaires. Turkish immigrant Eren Ozmen’s fortune increased by more than a billion dollars this year, after the Sierra Nevada Corp. aerospace firm that she and her husband own spun out its DreamChaser space plane and related businesses into a new company, Sierra Space, that raised money at a $4.5 billion valuation. Kim Kardashian, meanwhile, is $800 million richer this year after her shapewear company Skims hit a $3.2 billion valuation.
Falguni Nayar is now India’s richest self-made woman, worth an estimated $4.5 billion, thanks to the success of her beauty and fashion retailer Nykaa, which went public in November. Other notable newcomers to the list include Rihanna, whose stake in cosmetics company Fenty Beauty has made her Barbados’ first billionaire and Canva app cofounder and CEO Melanie Perkins, Australia’s youngest billionaire; Filippino Betty Ang, who made her fortune with instant noodles and her food company Monde Nissin; and South Korea’s Yoo Jung-hyun, who cofounded and owns 14% of Korea’s biggest video game company, Nexon.
These self-made women range from 95-year-old Alice Schwartz, who started Bio-Rad Laboratories with her late husband David in 1952, to Perkins and Rihanna, who are both 34. And while there’s still work to do in leveling the playing field–only 30% of billionaire women are self-made compared to 76% of their male counterparts–these pioneers are paving the way.
Here are the 10 richest self-made women in the world.
Net worths are as of March 11, 2022.
Net worth: $18.2 billion
Source of wealth: Petrochemicals
Fan Hongwei, the 13th-wealthiest woman in the world, chairs Hengli Petrochemical, an oil refining and chemical fiber company in China. Fan’s fortune is unchanged versus a year ago.
Net worth: $16.8 billion*
Source of wealth: Shipping containers
Rafaela and her husband, Gianluigi, founded Mediterranean Shipping Company in 1970. It now has 600 vessels in 155 countries, making it the largest shipping line in the world. The couple’s fortune is up an estimated $6.1 billion this year as global supply chain issues boosted the profits of shipping container companies.
Net worth: $15.3 billion
Source of wealth: Real estate
A former journalist, Wu Yajun cofounded real estate developer Longfor Properties with her now ex-husband in 1993. The Hong Kong-listed company is well known for its 61 shopping centers in China. In 2018, she transferred a 44% stake to her daughter, Cai Xinyi.
Net worth: $10.7 billion
Source of wealth: Construction
Country: United States
America’s richest self-made woman, Hendricks chairs ABC Supply, the largest distributor of roofing materials in the United States. Hendricks, who cofounded the business with her late husband in 1982, has grown the company from three locations to 811 and has driven annual revenue beyond $12 billion.
Net worth: $9.7 billion*
Source of wealth: Retail and gas
Country: United States
Another power couple, Judy and Tom Love founded Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores in 1964. Judy kept the books and still serves as executive secretary of the business, which has over 550 locations in 41 states and 32,000 employees.
Net worth: $9.5 billion
Source of wealth: Electronic components
She is chairman and cofounder of Luxshare Precision Industry, a cable and connectors manufacturing company in China. One of her most notable customers: Apple– Luxshare supplies iPhone connector cables and manufactures AirPods. Wang started the business with her brother in 2004 and took it public on the Shenzen Stock Exchange in 2010.
Net worth: $8.1 billion
Source of wealth: Pharmaceuticals
A former chemistry teacher, she founded Hong Kong-listed drug-maker Hansoh Pharmaceuticals in 2015. She chairs the company and owns more than three-quarters of its shares–which have slid 50% over the past year–with her daughter, Sun Yuan.
Net worth: $8 billion*
Source of wealth: Agriculture and water
Country: United States
Resnick is vice chair of the Wonderful Company, the group behind popular food products like Wonderful Pistachios, Pom Wonderful, mandarin Halos and Fiji Water. She and her husband Stewart founded the business in the late 1970s. Resnick oversees marketing and product development; she won a Gold Effie Award for her Teleflora ad, “Flowers in a Gift.”
Net worth: $7.1 billion
Source of wealth: Smartphones screens
Country: Hong Kong, China
The former factory worker is founder and CEO of Lens Technology, which supplies smartphone screens to big name brands like Samsung, LG and Microsoft. In 2015, she was the richest self-made woman in the world after a successful IPO that quintupled the share price. But, Qunfei has lost more than half of her wealth in the past year as Lens Technology shares have plummeted 54% since March 2021 amid performance concerns from analysts due to poor net profit results.
Net worth: $7 billion
Source of wealth: Health IT
Country: United States
Faulkner’s Epic Software is used by leading hospitals and other customers, which use it to record medical information on more than 225 million patients. She founded Epic in a basement in 1979.
*Shares fortune with a spouse