Forbes Magazine unearthed 268 new billionaires in 2014. Impressively, 172 of these powerhouses were women – an all time record and a huge improvement on last year’s 138. Indeed, 10 of the females listed also appear on Forbes’ annual 100 Most Powerful Women ranking. On a larger scale, billionaire wealth shows no signs of decreasing. That is, a record net worth of $31 billion was needed to rank among the top 20 billionaires this year – representing a significant incline from last year’s $23 billion. This year, the United States led the world with an impressive 492 billionaires, followed by China with 152 and Russia with 111. Forbes also notes individuals with sizable fortunes in other countries such as Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania and Uganda.
Forbes commented on the impressive number of women on this year’s billionaire list and some of its broader implications but there is still something to be said for the fact that the majority of women on this list inherited their wealth from a spouse or parent; and yet, nearly one fifth of them are self-made, and this is a number that has more than doubled in the past few years. The world’s top 10 richest women have a collective net worth of $223 billion, a staggering figure that increased upwards of 25% from last year. Forbes puts this number in perspective: these women are worth more than every professional sports team in the United States put together! These women’s accomplishments are a momentous feat in themselves, but what they will choose to do with this wealth is equally important. Laurene Powell Jobs, for example, has used her status and power to deal passionately with education reform in Washington. In the future, one can hope to see more women taking the lead in business, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship throughout the world. Perhaps these 10 new female billionaires in 2014 can give us a glimpse of what the new generation of rich and powerful women worldwide looks like.
Ina Chan is a chairman of UNIR Management Limited, which has a diverse investment portfolio of mainly hospitality, leisure, retail and transportation businesses. She’s often known as the third wife of the “King of Gambling” Stanley Ho, and owns 13% of Macau Legend Development Ltd. Chan has also committed herself to charitable causes; for example, she is chairman of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (2013-4) and a member of the 10th Guangdong Provincial Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Chan continues to do high-profile charity and business work in her adopted hometown of Hong Kong.
Monika Schoeller, 75, is a German publisher and philanthropist. She earned her wealth through publishing; she inherited the publishing house Verlagsgruppe Holtzbrinck from her father Georg von Holtzbrinck, who founded it as a book club in 1948. The Holtzbrinck Publishing Group’s primary business segments are comprised of Macmillan Science and Education, Macmillan Publishers (fiction and nonfiction) and Holtzbrinck Digital, Information and Services. Schoeller also founded the S. Fisher Foundation, which promotes cultural and scientific projects of international importance and is now one of the most prominent cultural foundations in Germany. Monika studied language, literature, and art history in college and married literary scholar Bernd Schoeller. In 1968, she gave birth to a daughter. She lives in Stuttgart with her family.
Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli, 56, is the so called newly revealed “fifth billionaire” in the German family behind perfume maker Coty Inc, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in May June 2013. The Reimann fortune dates back to 1823, when Johann Adam Benckiser founded a chemical company in Germany. The Reimann family has been expanding its interests in consumer goods and has spent $11 billion in the past 12 months acquiring three coffee businesses. Reimann-Ciardelli and her four adopted siblings have been consolidating their control of the company since the 1984 death of their father, Albert Reimann. In 2003, Reimann sold her stake in Joh A. Benckiser, the Reimann family’s closely held investment company, for approximately a billion dollars. Reimann-Ciardelli lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Lam Fong Ngo is the vice chairman and member of the remuneration committee of Macau Legend Development Limited. MLD is one of the leading owners of entertainment and gaming facilities in Macau. The company also operates its own hotels and non-gambling entertainment facilities. Lam Fong Ngo founded the General Association of Chinese Opera and Music in Macau in 2004 and has since served as its chairperson. In May of 2012, she was appointed Vice Chairman of Macau Legend Development Ltd, and has been its Executive Director since 2006. She has over 30 years of experience in the gaming industry and is the second wealthiest person in Macau.
Shortly after being appointed Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, 44, became one of the world’s youngest self-made female billionaires. Her shares in Facebook have gone up more than 130% in the past year, giving her an impressive net worth. As a self-made woman, she stands among some pretty impressive company including Oprah Winfrey, Sara Blakely, and Tory Burch, for example. In her bestselling book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”, Sandberg details her contentious negotiations with Facebook CEOMark Zuckerberg while she was being courted for the company’s chief operating officer position. She writes: “I could play hardball.” She currently lives in Atherton, CA with her husband and two children.
Jane Lauder of the Estee Lauder dynasty joined the company in 2006 after she graduated from Stanford University. She replaced her father Ronald on the Estee Lauder board in 2009, where she now serves with her sister Aerin and cousin William. In 2013 she was promoted to global president and general manager of Estee Lauder Companies, yielding her an impressive net worth and making her America’s youngest billionaire. She is married to Kevin Warsh, a former governor of the U.S Federal Reserve Bank; they live in Manhattan.
Aerin Lauder, 44, is a long time New York socialite and a new billionaire thanks to her stake in the 10 billion dollar cosmetics firm Estee Lauder, which was founded by her grandmother. During college she worked at her family’s company, and after college she studied at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Today she remains the image and style director at her family’s conglomerate, where she has worked for over two decades. She also has her own cosmetic, perfume, fashion, and furniture line called AERIN. She lives with her husband and two sons in New York City and East Hampton, New York.
Denise Coates is the 46-year-old chief executive of Bet365, an online sports betting platform. She began work for her father as a cashier in his betting shops and later took over a number of the shops, selling some of them to large bookmaker Coral. She soon launched Bet365.com, which is now the world’s biggest online gaming and betting business. Ms. Coates is one of the UK’s wealthiest businesswomen; indeed, in 2013 Bet365’s sales hit an impressive $1.6 billion. In a rare interview – she refuses face-to-face interviews, and normally corresponds via email – she calls herself a workaholic and credits her success to “sheer grit.” Interestingly, the one time she gave a candid interview it was to correct the impression that it was her father who ran and founded Bet365.
Folorunsho Alakija is Nigeria’s first female billionaire. She began as a secretary in a bank in the 1970s, and then studied fashion design in England at American College, London and the Central School of Fashion. She established her own tailoring company called Supreme Stitches, a clothing brand that caters to high society women. Its popularity grew and has become a household name. Her billionaire-status fortune comes mainly from oil, though, as the executive vice chairperson of Famfa Oil, Ltd. Alakija is also the group managing director of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions, Ltd. and Digital Reality Prints, Ltd. She currently lives in Nigeria with her family.
Sandra Ortega is the daughter of Amancio Ortega, the founder of clothing giant Inditex (the company that owns Zara) and the third richest person in the world, with a net worth of about $65.9 billion. Ortega inherited her money from her mother when she passed away suddenly in August 2013. She now owns 100% of the holding company Rosp Corunna Participaciones Empresariales SL, which controls about 5% of Inditex. She is 45 and currently lives in Spain, where she is officially Spain’s richest woman. Rosp Corunna also controls a 5% stake in the Spanish pharmaceutical company, Zeltia, valued at $39 million, as well as private equity investments which are valued at around $100 million.