Women In Business: The Growing Number of Women Billionaires

The 2014 Forbes Billionaires list has the highest number of women billionaires ever – 172 out of 1,645. That represents 10.5%. It also has the highest-ever percentage of newcomers. Of the 268 people new to the 2014 Forbes Billionaires list, a record-breaking 42 are women or 16% of the newcomers.


Women Billionaires – Self-Made versus Inherited Wealth


That is encouraging news for women in business. However, a closer look reveals that only 1.9% of female billionaires built their own fortunes versus inheriting one.   American TV host Oprah Winfrey, Spanx’s founder Sara Blakely and Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg are examples of women who have become billionaires without the help of a parent, husband or sibling. As Sandberg notes in her best selling book Lean In, “Businesses are going to care about diversity not because they want to do good in the world. They are going to care about diversity if it’s going to change their bottom line.”


New women billionaires who have built their own fortunes represent a variety of businesses ranging from on-line information technology to oil.They are:


* Sheryl Sandberg – $1.05 billion, U.S., Self-Made, Age 44 – COO of Facebook


* Denise Coats – $1.6 billion, U.K., Self-Made, Age 46 – CEO of Bet365 an online betting firm


* FolorunshoAlakija – $2.5 billion, Nigeria, Self-Made, Age 63 – Nigeria’s first female billionaire thanks to her own lucrative oil-producing asset,Famfa Oil


Women who inherited their fortunes also represent a wide range of industry sectors from cosmetics to clothing to real estate to media:


* Jane Lauder – $1.15 billion, U.S., Inherited, Age 41 – Youngest American billioniare thanks to the beauty business her grandmother Estee Lauder created


* Sandra Ortega Merca – $6.1 billion, Spain, Inherited, Age 46 – Her wealth is owed to the Inditex clothing retailer started by her father


* Carrie Perrodo – $10 billion, France, Inherited, Age 63 – She manages the fortune left by her late husband, a family owned oil company,Perenco


Women Billionaires – Under the Age of 40


The 31 youngest women and men on the Forbes list (defined as under the age of 40) have a combined net worth of $115.7 billion.   IT dominates the list. Three Facebook employees account for 42% of that number:,Mark Zuckerberg (age 29,$28.5 billion, Facebook CEO)Sean Parker (age 34, $2.4 billion, former Facebook President and Napster founder)and Jan Koum(age 38, $6.8 billion, Founder of Whats App).Jan Koumcreated Whats App in 2009 as the first smartphone application to let people send text messages between different phones and countries for free, using only their cell phone numbers. It is now the biggest mobile messaging service in the world with 430 million active users, bigger than Skype and Snapchat combined. It was recently sold to Facebook.


Where are the women? Well 22% – or 7 of the 31 youngest billionaires – are female. Perenna Kei is the youngest billionaire – male or female – at age 24.   However, the females on the list did not create but rather inherited their wealth. They are from Hong Kong, China, France, Germany and Switzerland. Here is the listing of the youngest female billionaires in order of their age:


#1 Perenna Kei –$1.3 billion, Hong Kong, Inherited, Age 24 – She owns 85% stake in Logan Property Holdings


#9 Yang Huiyan–$6.9 billion, China, Inherited, Age 32 – China’s richest woman as Vice Chairman of real estate developer Country Garden, her fathers stake


#11 Marie BesnierBeauvalot -$2.7 billion, France, Inherited, Age 33 – She inherited French dairy giant Lactalis, producers of popular President brie among hundreds of other cheese, milk and yogurt brands


#13 Julia Oetker – $1.75 billion, Germany, Inherited, Age 35 – Youngest of eight billionaire beneficiaries of the Oetker fortune built on baking and pudding powder is now a holding company that employees 26,000 people and generates $15B in annual revenue


#17 Yvonne Bauer – $3.5 billion, Germany, Inherited, Age 36 – Fifth generation of her family to run Bauer Media Group, which publishes 600 magazines in 37 countries world wide


#26 Rahel Blocher– $2.9 billion, Switzerland, Inherited, Age 38 – She is the largest shareholder along with her sister Magdelenaof Ems-Chemie, a gigantic Swiss polymer and chemical manufacturer her family has run for decades


#31 Miriam Blocher– $1.1 billion, Switzerland, Inherited, Age 39 – She is a major shareholder in Ems-Chemie and sold some shares to buy Lackerli-Huus, a Swiss confectionary and baked goods company


Lets hope we see more women on the list next year, including women who earned their listing without the help of a parent, husband or sibling.


By: Theresa F. Weber


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