Meet the high school dropout who is now the world’s richest self-made woman

The story of college-dropouts reaching to the top of the wealth ladder is not new to the modern world. But, any such story which has challenged the traditional world is not an ordinary one either.

Barely few months after a delivery man went on to become China’s third-richest billionaire, China is back again with a new billionaire who is not only a high school dropout but also a former factory worker.

Zhou Qunfei is now the world’s richest self-made woman with a net worth of over USD 8 billion. Chinese entrepreneur Zhou is the founder of Lens Technology and owns a USD 27 million estate in Hong Kong.

Zhou was born in a tiny village in the Hunan Province of central China. Her mother died when she was 5. Her father, a skilled craftsman, later lost a finger and most of his eyesight in an industrial accident, the New York Times reported. It further said that at home, she helped her family raised pigs and ducks for food and additional money.

At the age of 16, Zhou dropped out of high school and went to uncle’s home in search of jobs. “While she dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, she eventually landed a job on a factory floor in the city of Shenzhen, making watch lenses for about USD 1 a day,” the NYT report said.

After working for few months, she decided to quit and set out her own venture. Later she started her own watch lenses factory with just USD 3000. Explaining as to how it was possible for Zhou to rise in so quickly, a professor of international management at MIT Huang Yasheng told the NYT, “In a country with few established players, entrepreneurs like Ms Zhou were able to quickly make their mark when they entered business in the 1990s as China’s economic engine was revving up.”

According to the NYT, Zhou’s stake in Lens Technology is worth USD 7.2 billion that puts her fortune on par with the media tycoon John C Malone and Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay.

This is the second time in few months time when a billionaire from China has hit the headline. Earlier, chairman of SF Holding Wang Wei saw his fortune grow to around USD 27 billion. With this, Wang knocked out Tencent founder Pony Ma for the third spot.

State media reported that Wang started his company in 1993 with about USD 13,000, sending packages himself along with a handful of other couriers and one delivery van. Now, SF has 15,000 vehicles and a network that covers 200 countries and regions globally.