Skip to main content

Nine Self-Made Female Rich-Listers

There are very few self-made women on the UK's Richest 250 list, with more women marrying onto the list than earning a place. 

Scientist Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, with a cool £2.9bn

Of the 250 wealthiest people in Britain, as published this week in The Sunday Times Rich List, only 53 are female. Of those, 19 are one half of a married couple and 27 inherited at least some of their wealth or used family money to launch their business. 

There are only a handful of women on the Rich List 250 that made the bulk of their own fortunes. "The situation is actually pretty dire," says Romi Savova, an ex-investment banker who set up PensionBee, a platform to amalgamate old pensions, quoted in an article in The Sunday Times. She believes the problem in access to start-up funding. 

In Europe, less than 3 percent of venture capital firms funding goes to female-founded firms, according to a report from Swiss bank UBS. In addition, 86% of all VC funded businesses have no women in management positions, while in the UK, for every £1 of VC investment in the UK, all-female founders receive less than 1 pence.

Savova added in the story: "A lot of the reason why women aren't getting funded is because there are a lot of men distributing the funding."

Author Joanne Rowling has a fortune of £820m

Nevertheless, it is clear that female-led businesses should be the most interesting to investors as they are often the most profitable. According to a 2018 report by Boston Consulting Group, women-run businesses generate 78 cents of revenue per dollar invested versus 31 cents for men. Seb Dovey, co-founder of wealth manager Scorpio Partnership, commented in the story: "A female founder often says, 'I have to earn the right to ask for money,'" whereas "a lot of male-led businesses often get caught up in the spreadsheets or the exuberance of what they could become."

Here are the top wealthiest self-made women according to The Sunday Times Rich List 250. 

1. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, £12.013bn

The drinks heiress inherited her father Teddy's share of the Dutch brewing giant but since she took over the business has thrived under her stewardship. The biannual Heineken Prize for cognitive science is named after her.

2. Denise Coates , £8.448bn

Coates leads the online gambling company Bet365. She had to mortgage her father's chain of betting shops to raise the money to grow her website. The Denise Coates Foundation has donated some £100m to UK charities, including £10 million to University Hospitals of North Midlands for Covid support.

3. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, £2.942bn

Award-winning scientist Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is an Indian billionaire entrepreneur and . She is the executive chairperson and founder of Biocon Limited and Biocon Biologics Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, India and the former chairperson of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. She was named EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020.

4= Elisabeth Murdoch, £1.2bn

Murdoch is the second daughter of Australian-born American multi-billionaire media proprietor Rupert Murdoch. She is now Executive Chairman of the global TV and film production and development company, Sister, which is headquartered in London with offices in Los Angeles.

Elisabeth Murdoch

4= Dame Mary Perkins, £1.2bn

Bristol-born Dame Mary Lesley Perkins, DBE is an English billionaire who co-founded Specsavers, the British retail opticians chain, with her husband Doug Perkins. In October 2017, Dame Mary was honoured with an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year UK Lifetime Achievement Award. She has three children who all work in the business. 

6. Christina Ong, £1bn

Singapore-born business woman Christina Ong, is also known as the "Queen of Bond Street" because of the number of properties she owns on Bond Street. She and her family are major players in a few companies, including Club 21 and COMO Hotels and Resorts.

7. Joanne Rowling, £820m

English writer Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter series, was rejected by 12 publishing houses before Bloomsbury accepted the cult classic. In 2000, Rowling established the Volant Charitable Trust, which uses its annual budget of £5.1 million to combat poverty and social inequality. The fund also gives to organisations that aid children, one-parent families, and multiple sclerosis research.

8. Ruth Parasol, £780m

The 54-year-old American entrepreneur and attorney founded PartyGaming in 1997, which merged with Bwin Interactive in 2010 to form Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, then the world’s largest publicly traded online gaming company. She also founded The Parasol Foundation Trust, which has donated some £30m to worthy causes. 

9. Dame Ann Gloag, £650m

A trained nurse, Dame Ann Heron Gloag DBE is a Scottish millionaire businesswoman, activist, and charity campaigner. She is co-founder of the international transport company Stagecoach Group. The Gloag Foundation was set upto support projects that prevent or relieve poverty and encourage the advancement of education, health and religion in the UK and overseas.