Statistics reveal that when it comes to finances and the money making business, men are more dominant. However, as the years go by, statistics have also revealed that women are increasingly narrowing the wealth gap between them and their male counterparts. Though a greater percentage of these women inherited their wealth from either their deceased partners or parents, they deserve some credit for the ability to sustain the wealth thus far. It gives an arguably proof that though women may not be renowned innovators, they do quite a good job at making shrewd business managerial decisions. The other percentage of the women which is actually a handful belong to the self-made class, which validates the fact that women are not completely ruled out when it comes to building a billion-dollar empire from scratch. Maybe if societies all over the world embraced gender equality with arms wide open then the world would celebrate more female billionaires. According to the latest Forbes ranking, these are the 20 richest women in the world, some names would definitely sound unfamiliar as female billionaires tend to shy away from the public and media eye. Note, however, that this list isn’t permanent as the net worth of these women are directly or indirectly dependent on the fluctuations of market prices and the economy of their respective countries.
20. Sandra Ortega Mera – $6.6 billion
Her father is the famous Amancio Ortega, the billionaire founder of a clothing company, Inditex. When her mother Rosalia Mera passed away in 2013, Sandra inherited her 7% stake in the family company making her the second richest person in Spain after her father, and the richest woman in Spain. Despite owning stakes in her fathers company, Sandra isn’t involved in running the business, rather she dedicates to the work at Fundación Paideia, a nonprofit organization her late mom began which aims at providing vocational training for people with mental and physical challenges.
19. Eva Gonda de Rivera – $6.7 billion
Eva began the ownership of the controlling stakes in FEMSA beverage corp after her late husband and former Chairman of FEMSA, Eugenio Garza Laguera handed his stakes over to her and their 5 daughters. FEMSA whose stocks are traded both in Mexico and NYSE is the largest independent Coca-Cola bottler and distributor in Latin America. The company recently branched out into drug retail after acquiring Farmacias Farmacon, a pharmacy giant in northern Mexico.
18. Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler – $6.7 billion
Industry: Ball Bearings
Maria Shaeffler is the widow of George Schaeffler, the founder of the Schaeffler Group. After her husband died in 1996, Maria and her only son assumed control of the company. Decades after her husband’s death and the company is still thriving. Today it is the largest producers of ball bearings in the world and has since begun manufacturing other mechanical components. Under her reign, the company has acquired three other ball bearing producing company including INA, LUK and FAG. A privately owned company, Schaeffler Group employs over 70,000 people worldwide.
17. Margarita Louis-Dreyfus – $8.4 billion
Russian-born Swiss billionaire businesswoman inherited Louis Dreyfus Group, a French global conglomerate company from her husband Robert Louis Dreyfus after he died of leukemia in 2009. Since then, she has been acting as chairman of the company and her success in managing the business is visible in her wealth. One of the smart moves she made that has kept the company successful includes the sale of the energy business of the company back in 2012, management overhaul and even increasing her stakes in the company. Her company also owns French top tier team Olympique de Marseille.
See Also: 10 Richest People Of All Time
16. Blair Parry-Okeden – $8.5 billion
Country: United States
Blair’s source of wealth is Cox Enterprises, a media company her grandfather, James Cox a two-time governor of the state of Ohio founded. She inherited a quarter of the company after her mother passed away in 2007. Other owners of the company include her brother James Kennedy, her aunt Anne Cox who is the largest shareholder and a board member in the company. Though she grew up in Hawaii, Blair has been living in Australia, the native land of her former husbands for decades now. Blair might not have any role in the company, but she is currently one of the richest persons in Australia.
15. Carrie Perrodo – $8.8 billion
Carrie Perrodo is a Singapore-born French businesswoman and ex-model. She had already climbed the ladder of prominence in modeling when she met her special someone, a French entrepreneur Hubert Perrodo in the early 1970s. Following their marriage, her husband founded and solely owned oil group Perenco until his death in 2006. She inherited the company after the death of her husband. The company has translated into one of the world’s biggest family-owned oil companies with estimated annual revenues of more than $5 billion and far-flung operations in the likes of Gabon, Peru and Vietnam.
14. Massimiliana Landini Aleotti – $10.4 billion
Massimiliana is an Italian businesswoman. She is the widow of late, Alberto Aleotti, who died in 2014. Along with her three children, she is set to inherit the Menarini, a pharmaceutical company, from her husband. A process which her family lawyer said can take up to a year for the inheritance to be completed. Her late husband translated Menarini into one of Italy’s leading drug companies, with 14 production sites around the globe and more than 16,000 employees.
13. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken – $11.6 billion
Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken one of Netherlands’ richest people. She owns 25% stake in Dutch brewer Heineken international, third-largest brewer which she inherited from her late father, Freddy Heineken, a decade ago. She is an executive director at Heineken Holdings NV company. The company sells more than 170 premium brands in more than 65 countries. She assumed her father’s role of guiding the company after his death in 2002.
12. Gina Rinehart – $12.3 billion
Gina Rinehart is an Australian mining heiress and controller of Hancock Prospecting group, a privately owned mining company. She is the daughter of Lang Hancock and Hope Margaret Nicholas. At the death of her father, she inherited his holdings at the company. She has transformed the modest company into one of the world’s largest iron and coal company. The Australian visionary businesswoman in 2010, bought a stake in Australian media organizations, making her the largest shareholder in Fairfax Media and taking a significant share in Ten Network Holdings. In March 2014, she concluded her biggest deal yet: $7.2 billion in funding from a group of global banks and credit agencies to develop Roy Hill, one of the world’s biggest iron-ore mines; Rinehart’s Hancock owns 70%.
11. Abigail Johnson – $13.4 billion
Industry: Money Management
Country: United States
Abigail Johnson is an American businesswoman, President and Chief Executive Officer of US investment firm Fidelity Investments (FMR) and chairman of its international sister company Fidelity Worldwide Investment. The firm is America’s second-largest mutual fund company (behind Vanguard) with nearly $2 trillion in assets under management. Her dad, Edward Johnson II established the company in 1946. She only took the place of her father Edward “Ned” Johnson III, as CEO of Fidelity in October 2014, making her the third-generation Johnson to lead the asset manager. But she has been involved at the family firm as far back as 1988. She was named the president in August 2012.
10. Iris Fontbona – $13.5 billion
Irish Fontbona, a Chilean billionaire businesswoman and the widow of Andrónico Luksic Abaroa is another uber wealthy woman on the list this year. She inherited Antofagasta PLC which trades on the London Stock Exchange and owns copper mines in Chile after her husband Andronico Luksic who founded the company died of cancer in 2005. She and her three sons: Jean-Paul, Andronico and Guillermo (who died in 2013 of lung cancer at age 57) became the controllers of Andronico Luksic business. The company has fortune in mining, beverages and more. The family also holds a majority stake in Quinenco, a publicly traded Chilean conglomerate active in banking, beer, manufacturing, energy, transportation and port services. She currently runs Antofagasta, one of the biggest copper mining companies in the world as well as the founder of Luksic Group in Chile.
9. Johanna Quandt – $13.9 billion
Johanna Quandt is the German widow of industrialist Herbert Quandt, a powerful industrialist in Germany who rose BMW from bankruptcy. The 88-year-old woman inherited her husband’s vast fortune. Though she retired from BMW’s supervisory board in 1997, still owns almost 17% of the company. Her billionaire children, Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt, also hold significant stakes in BMW and still sit on the supervisory board.
8. Susanne Klatten – $16.8 billion
Susanne Klatten is a German BMW heiress and the daughter of Herbert and Johanna Quandt. Herbert Quandt rescued BMW from bankruptcy. The 52-year-old, owns a 12.6% stake she inherited in automaker BMW from her late father, Herbert Quandt. Susanne, her brother Stefan Quandt and her mother Johanna Quandt together own about 50% of BMW. She is helping change Altana AG, located in the German town of Wesel on the Lower Rhine, into a world-class pharmaceutical/specialty chemical corporation.
Thus, she controls chemical manufacturer Altana, and holds stakes in wind power outfit, Nordex AG as well as carbon and graphite producer SGL and Geohumus. The latter concentrates on inventing a water storing granulate to be used in agriculture.
She also acquired stakes from Dutch biotech company Paques in 2012 and used oil recycling company Avista Oil of Germany.
7. Anne Cox Chambers – $17 billion
Country: United States
Anne Cox Chambers is the surviving daughter of James M. Cox, the founder of Cox Enterprises, a media company that operates radio, television, cable television, newspapers and other businesses including Cox Automotive (AutoTrader.com, Manheim car auctions, online car sales, Kelley Blue Book. This American media proprietor is a majority owner of the privately owned media giant estimated at $17 billion in annual revenues. In 2014, the company announced that it had bought back 25% of AutoTrader.
6. Laurene Powell Jobs – $19.5 billion
Country: United States
Laurene Powell Jobs, an American business executive and widow of Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple Inc. scores high on the 2015 list of richest women in the world published by Forbes this year. She is the founder of Emerson Collective, which advocates for policies relating to education and immigration reform, social justice, and environmental conservation. She also co-founded and is the President of the Board of College Track, a nonprofit college completion program. She also controls the Steven P. Jobs Trust, now known as the Laurene Powell Jobs Trust, which owns around 130 to 140 million shares of stock or between 7 and 8 percent stake as the largest shareholder in The Walt Disney Company.
5. Maria Franca Fissolo – $23.4 billion
Industry: Nutella, Chocolates
Maria Franca Fissolo, is an Italian businesswoman and the widow of Michele Ferrero, who developed Ferrero Group into one of the world’s leading candy companies, with its iconic Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread, Kinder chocolates and Tic-Tac mints. She is a newcomer to the ranks of the richest women. She and her son Giovanni Ferrero, the Chief Executive of Ferrero Group, the sweets company, are taking over one of the world’s largest candy company. According to FORBES she and her son are estimated to worth $23.4 billion.
Her husband, candy-and-Nutella tycoon Michele Ferrero, who died in February developed the sweets company from the small bakery and café of his father in Alba, Piedmont. His first big success was including vegetable oil to the traditional gianduja paste to make the popular spread, Nutella. Among the company’s famous brands include Mon Chéri, Ferrero Rocher, Kinder Chocolate, Kinder Eggs, and Nutella.
4. Jacqueline Mars – $26.6 billion
Country: United States
Jacqueline Mars is the sister of the two brothers, Forrest Jr. and John, who are the owners of the secretive ($33 billion) candy maker Mars. As a member of the Mars family, she is among the heirs of the company. All three siblings sit on the company’s board of directors but are not involved in the everyday activities of the company. She is also a trustee of the US Equestrian Team and serves on the board of directors for the Washington National Opera, the National Sporting Library and Fine Arts Museum.
3. Alice Walton – $39.4 billion
Country: United States
Alice Walton is an American heiress to the fortune of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Her father Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart. She graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in economics and finance. With her hefty fortune, she has long concentrated on interpreting art, culminating in the opening of the Crystal Bridges Art Museum in her hometown of Bentonville, Ark. in 2011. She has also included other artworks from several other popular artists. She is sister-in-law to Christy Walton, who is number 1 on this year’s list.
2. Liliane Bettencourt – $40.7 billion
Liliane Bettencourt is a French heiress, socialite, business tycoon and philanthropist. She is one of the principal shareholders of L’Oréal and the second richest woman, the same rank she held a year ago. The company was founded by her father Eugene Schueller, in 1907. She became even wealthier in 2014 due to a deal in which she bought extra 8% stake in the cosmetics empire from Nestle, raising her and her family’s chunk of L’Oreal stock to 33%. Bettencourt has not been involved in running the company for several years; a legal battle with her daughter Françoise Bettencourt Meyers proved Liliane unfit to manage affairs in 2011. She was replaced on the company’s board by her 25-year-old grandson Jean-Victor Meyers in 2012. The elderly widow, who suffers from dementia remains the wealthiest woman in Europe.
1. Christy Walton – $41.7 billion
Country: United States
Christy Walton, an American Philanthropist, is the richest woman in the world. She has held this title for 5 out of the past six years. She is the widow of John T. Walton, one of the sons of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart. She married into what became the richest family in the globe and inherited a fortune after the death of her husband John Walton, a former Green Beret and Vietnam war medic, who died in an airplane crash in 2005. She’s the richest of the Waltons due to an investment John made in solar panel maker First Solar. Perhaps candy manufacturing company pay more than we thought and it is just the right business to go into.