Regardless of whether their wealth is inherited or self-made, these women are fervent in creating a better world for the communities and causes they represent.
In honour of International Women’s Day, we thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the rise of the fairer sex amongst the rich and powerful. According to an article published by BCG in 2020, women controlled 32 per cent of the world’s wealth, with signs showing that this figure is set to increase in the coming years.
Here we spotlight the top ten richest women in the world as of March 10, 2023 (Figures are according to Forbes)
1. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, US$79.3B, France
Better known as the heiress to the L’Oreal empire, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers inherited the title after her mother’s, Liliane Bettencourt, passing in 2017. Bettencourt, the granddaughter of L’Oreal’s founder, served on the company’s board since 1997 and is the chairwoman of the family’s company. She is also the president of her family’s philanthropic foundation, supporting France’s progress in the sciences and arts.
Besides owning a 33 per cent stake in L’Oreal, the richest woman in the world is also an accomplished author. Raised as a catholic, the heiress has penned books on Greek mythology and a commentary on the Bible.
2. Julia Flesher Koch & family, US$59B, USA
Julia Flesher Koch moved to New York from Iowa to work as an assistant to renowned fashion designer Adolfo during the 1980s. She met her husband, David Koch, in 1991 and got married in 1996. The duo has made large donations to Mount Sinai Medical Center and Stanford’s Children’s Hospital to study food allergies. Following her husband’s passing in 2019, Koch and her three children inherited his 42 per cent stake in Koch Industries
3. Alice Walton, US$57.1B, USA
The only daughter of Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton, Alice Walton does not share the same entrepreneurial spirit as her siblings. Instead, she dabbled in the art curating and opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2011. Artworks from Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol are displayed in the museum.
In 2021, Walton opened the Whole Health Institute and Chopra Library, a non-profit organisation hoping to radically redesign the American healthcare system.
4. Jacqueline Badger Mars, US$38.3B, USA
Granddaughter of Frank Mars, founder of Mars Inc., Jacqueline Badger Mars currently owns around a third of the company’s shares. She has worked at her family’s company for close to 20 years, serving on its board of directors till 2016. A prominent philanthropist and a strong passion for equestrian, Mars is a trustee of the US Equestrian Team Foundation and also sits on several boards, including the National Sporting Library and Fine Art Museum, the Smithsonian and the American Prairie Reserve.
5. Miriam Adelson, US$35.2B, USA
Widow of Sheldon Adelson, former CEO and chairman of Las Vegas Sands, Miriam Adelson is the majority shareholder of the world’s largest casino operator. The business controls casino resorts and convention centres in US and Asia, including Las Vegas, Singapore and Macao. With her experience as a medical doctor, Sheldon and her late husband founded the Sheldon G. Adelson Research Clinic which treats people with opioid use disorder.
6. Gina Rinehart, US$28.5B, Australia
Known to be the richest citizen in Australia, Rinehart helped rebuild her father’s ailing company Hancock Prospecting to be one of the top iron ore companies in the country. Apart from mining, Rinehart also owns many ranches and properties across Australia. With her extensive property portfolio, the mining magnate is also the country’s second-largest cattle producer.
7. Susanne Klatten, US$27.2B, Germany
A savvy businesswoman who owns stakes in multiple industries, Klatten is most prominently known for her 19.2 per cent in German carmaker BMW. Aside from the automobile industry, her other ventures include investing in a digital and data security company, Entrust, and carbon and graphite producer SGL Group. She also helped transform Atlanta AG, founded by her grandfather, into a cutting-edge pharmaceutical and specialty chemical corporation.
8. MacKenzie Scott, US$24.8B, USA
Formerly married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Scott received 4 per cent of Bezos’ stake in the e-commerce company as part of the divorce settlement. Shortly after the divorce, Scott signed the Giving Pledge, which will donate half her wealth throughout her lifetime.
In her most recent round of giving, she has donated millions of dollars to non-profit organisations, universities and colleges in Southern California. These institutions have historically catered to marginalised and underserved people.
10. Iris Fontbona, US$22.9B, Chile
Iris Fontbona and her three sons currently own the mining and beverage empire formerly owned by her husband Andrónico Luksic before his death in 2005. Fontbona and her children run Antofagasta PLC, a mining company that owns several copper mines in Chile. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Besides the family’s business, Fontbona and her children also possess a majority stake in Quiñenco. This firm is active in banking, beer and manufacturing.
10. Abigail Johnson, US$21.6B, United States
The granddaughter of Edward Johnson II, who was known as the founder of Boston-based mutual fund giant in 1946, the company is now known as Fidelity Investments and Abigail Johnson has been its Chairperson since 2016 after taking over the position from her father. The company manages about US$3.7 trillion in assets and she owns an estimated 24.5 per cent of the stakes in Fidelity Investments.
Under her leadership, the company expanded into cryptocurrencies and in 2018, it also launched a platform that allows institutional investors to trade bitcoin and ether.
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