We all know Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and the other male billionaires. I am sure everyone knows what Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg do, as we all thoroughly know their stories. But can you name the top 3 richest women in the world?
I conducted my little research and asked this question to a few people around me. Their answers took me by surprise. According to them, Queen Elizabeth is the richest woman. Some even called Oprah the richest female entrepreneur, majority of them had to google to tell the right answer. This is certainly overwhelming, like them there must be many more people who do not know many thriving women and their accomplishments.
All over the planet, there are many prospering women. These women are constantly growing and getting recognition in their work. Queen and Oprah are certainly wealthy women, but they are not nearly there on top of the list of richest women in the world. L’Oreal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, Alice Walton (Walmart), and Mackenzie Scott (Jeff Bezo’s former wife) are the richest women in the world. Francoise and Alice ranked 12th and 17th on the Forbes World’s Billionaires List 2021.
So why do we know a lot about men’s achievements but are oblivious to our own gender’s success?
As I have said before in my article, “Top Female Asian Entrepreneurs of 2021”, our textbooks lack examples and success stories of women. From history to science to literature, every textbook is narrating the stories and work of men. Even the media loves to celebrate men more than women. The trend is similar since my childhood. Everywhere, men are the epitome of greatness, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerburg. We associated success in careers with men only. We never gave successful women a fair chance to boast their success stories as men did.
Self-made Women Billionaires
This year 328 women made it on the Forbes Billionaire List 2021, with a total worth of $1.53 trillion. It is impressive as 63 new women made it to the list. This year, these richest women in the world added $570.7 billion collectively to their wealth.
It is no doubt remarkable! But do you know what is even more impressive? Self-made woman.
A self-made woman against all hurdles starts her own business, fights stereotypes every day, pursues her dreams, and then makes a decent living for herself. She does not conform to gender roles nor accepts the gender pay gap and discrimination as her ultimate fate. She becomes her boss and then creates jobs for others like her.
According to studies women make better leaders than men. The study manifested that companies with more female leaders on boards saw 42% higher sales returns, a 66% higher return on invested capital, and a 53% higher return on equity than companies with fewer females.
Part of women’s success lies in the fact that they create nurturing and supportive work environments for their teams. A female leader makes sure that whatever she does positively impact her team. A study shared in Harvard Business Review revealed that women leaders provide support to people both professionally and emotionally. They make sure people of every ethnic background, gender, or sexual orientation are comfortable at work.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has similar thoughts:
Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and make sure that impact lasts in your absence.
This sensitive female nature accounts for their success. Therefore, every year we witness a positive trend towards the rise and success of female entrepreneurs, as shown above, by our infographics.
Hurun Richest Self-made Women in the World in 2021
According to the report, this year 130 self-made female entrepreneurs from 16 countries made it to the list, thus an increase of 30% from the previous year. This year 102 female entrepreneurs saw the growth in their wealth, of which 43 were new entrants. The total wealth of these richest self-made women thus increased to US$460 billion from US$150 billion in the prior year.
According to Rupert Hoogwert, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report, China accounts for two-thirds of the richest women in the world. According to the report, with 85 female entrepreneurs, China topped the list, followed by the USA with 25 and UK with 6 female billionaire entrepreneurs. The average age of women billionaires on the list was 58 years old. Besides, 80% of the female billionaires in the list made their wealth from listed companies.
Top Self-made women billionaires
China ruled the list of the top richest self-made women in the world. Chinese female entrepreneurs reached the top 10 spots with a single female entrepreneur from the UK in 9th position.
This 60-year-old woman with a net worth of US$23 billion is on top of the list of the self-made richest women in the world for the second consecutive year. She started her career as a mere chemistry teacher before becoming one of the richest women in the world.
Zhong Huijuan chairs the Chinese pharmaceutical company Hansoh Pharmaceutical. The company specializes in the production of oncology, psychoactive, antidiabetic, and other drugs. Her husband, Sun Piaoyang, leads Shanghai-listed Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine and is a pharmaceutical billionaire.
Fan Hongwei jumps to the second position from the 4th position last year with a net worth of US$22 billion (189% up from last year). She chairs a chemical fiber supplier, Hengli Petrochemical Company, and is vice-chairperson for its holding Hengli Group. Hengli Petrochemical has its production sites in many Chinese cities. The company primarily serves in the clothing industry and also produces products for packaging, electronics, and pharmaceuticals.
Fan before trying her luck in business world, worked as an accountant. She is the holder of 45% stakes in Hengli Petrochemical. According to Forbes and Fortune, she is the top CEO and one of the influential business leaders in China.
She is the co-founder and chairperson of Hong Kong-listed real estate developer Longfor Properties. Wu Yajun comes 3rd (down from 2nd last year) in the list with this year’s wealth of US$17 billion (up by 21%). She founded Longfor with her husband in 1993, who has no role in her company after their divorce. Before trying her luck in the real estate business and becoming one of the richest women in the world, she worked as a journalist.
This 51-year-old woman is the chairwoman of Lens Technology. Lens Technology has an impressive customer base which includes Samsung, LG, Microsoft, and Nokia. The company produces smartphone screens. Zhou started her entrepreneurial journey in 1993 by establishing a watch parts company at her apartment. In this year’s Hurun list of richest self-made female billionaires, she descends to 4th position from 3rd last year, with the US$15.5 billion net worth.
This year, this 79 years old female entrepreneur moves four places up on the list to 5th position with a net worth of US$15 billion. Lu Zhongfang, after her retirement, invested in test preparation firm Offcn in 1999. Offcn Education Technology offers vocational education and recruitment examination training in the public sector.
Besides, hailing also from China, Wang Laichun (Luxshare Precision) made it to the 6th spot this year with a wealth of US$14 billion. Similarly, Cheng Xue, new entrant Wang Ying, Pan Dong, and Zhao Yan, all Chinese-based female entrepreneurs, attained the top 10 spots in the list.
Enough from China, now let us move towards others on the list from other nationalities too.
This British entrepreneur is the only Non-Chinese female entrepreneur among the top 10 on this year’s list. Denise Coates is the CEO of the online gambling company, Bet365. She worked in accounting then later joined her family betting business. In 2001 she launched her website by buying the domain Bet365.com. This year her wealth amounted to US$10.5 billion, thus enabling her to ascend to 9th place on the list. She is one of the highest taxpayers in Britain in the year 2021. Her company is one of the biggest online gambling company which yearly facilitates more than $65 billion in bets.
This year, Diane Hendricks tumbled eight places down, as her wealth amounted to US$8.9 billion. Diane is the chairperson of ABC Supply, the wholesale distributor of roofing, siding, and windows in America. She started as a real estate agent later started her company with her late husband. ABC Supply attained more than US$12 billion in revenues in 2020. The company has around 800 branches. In 2018, she was named the American richest self-made woman by Forbes.
Hailing from Singapore, Shu Ping is one of the founders of this Chinese hot pot chain Haidilao International Holdings. She is the wife of the chairman of Haidilao, Zhang Yong. Along with other cofounders, Shu opened her first restaurant in 1994 from her savings. This year, she proceeded two places up with a net worth of US$8.8 billion (132% up from the prior year), sharing 14th place with Li Haiyan of Haidilao.
Dulce Pugliese De Godoy Bueno
By more than doubling her wealth to US$6.2 billion, this Brazil-based female entrepreneur finally made it among the top 20 self-made female billionaires this year. She has acquired her fortune in health care. Along with her husband, Edson Bueno, she founded Amil, a health insurance and medical-care firm.
Other Honorable Mentions
Ginni Rometty, the former Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM, is the new entrant in the list in 21st place. She is also the highest new entrant this year, with a wealth of US$5.6 billion.
On the 25th spot is Luo Jinhong of Eve Energy, whose wealth increased by 236% to US$4.7 billion this year. Similarly, Indian billionaire entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw also made it to the list at 24th position with a 109% increase in her wealth to US$4.8 billion. She is the first Indian female entrepreneur among the top 25 richest self-made billionaires in the world on the list.
The Russian female entrepreneur, Tatyana Bakalchuk, the founder and CEO of Wildberries also made it to the list. This year her wealth almost tripled to US$3.2 billion. Wildberries is the largest online realtor in Russia, thus making her the country’s first self-made female billionaire.
Lastly, ending my list with my favorite, Oprah Winfrey, who we all know is a famous American talk show host, producer, and author. This year with a net worth of US$2.6 billion her ranking dropped by seventeen points to spot 45.
Summing Everything Up
So, we can safely say this year has been the year of Chinese people. Even Chinese billionaires dominated the Forbes Billionaire List of 2021, with 210 billionaires hailing from China and Hong Kong. Similarly, China-based female entrepreneurs also beamed with bright numbers this year. Chinese female entrepreneurs topped the list of the Hurun richest self-made female billionaires.
Now, China is producing more billionaires than the USA, as according to Hurun Global Rich List, China has over 1,058 billionaires compared to 696 in the US. The COVID-19 pandemic has even surged Chinese wealth.
Seeing the trends, we can safely conclude that the future for Chinese female entrepreneurs is certainly bright. We can hope more and more women from every ethnicity rise and become the richest women in the world.