10 Famous Self-Made Billionaires


Being wealthy is not always a result of being born wealthy. life-histories of many billionaires today shows that with talent, entrepreneurial spirit and the right opportunities, a person of humble parentage can go on to become a success story and an inspiration to many more. Here are ten 10 top billionaires of the world today who made their own fortunes.

  1. Carlos Slim Helu

    Despite the fabulous accounts of the assets of Microsoft giant Bill Gates and business mogul Warren Buffet, the richest man in the world does not belong to America at all. That laurel goes to Carlos Slim Helu, who in 2010 topped the ranks for the third year in a row, according to Forbes list of world billionaires1. His fortune is currently pegged at $69 billion. The 72 year old is chairman of Telmex and has large interests in telecom giant America Movil, which accounts for more than half his net worth. In April the company was fined $1 billion by Mexican regulators for monopolistic practices, but is appealing the decision.  Son of former Lebanese immigrant, Carlos Slim is now a widower and has six children. Slim is believed to be spending more time working with his Carlos Slim Foundation and the Telmex Foundation than he has in the past. He has reportedly declared that his goal is now philanthropic work that develops human capacity.

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  2. Bill Gates

    Software mogul and cofounder of Microsoft, Bill Gates is richest man in US and the second-richest in the world.  The self-made billionaire currently enjoys a net worth of US$61 billion as Microsoft shares soared by 50% in the last year and his investment vehicle Cascade continued to rake in profits. However at present almost 60% of Gates’ fortune is held outside Microsoft with assets in Four Seasons Hotel, Auto Nation and Televisa.

    Even though Bill Gates came from a middle class family, he famously dropped out of Harvard to found his own software company. Now Bill and his wife Melinda Gates are actively involved in philanthropy with charitable and scientific research constituting their main areas of support. According to Forbes, Bill Gates contributed $28 billion to various causes in 20112. During his leisure, Bill Gates enjoys reading, playing golf, bridge and tennis.
  3. Warren Buffet

    America’s most high-profile investor, Warren Buffet ranks second on Forbes 2012 List of Richest Americans and third on the World Billionaire List3 with a net worth of US$44 billion. The primary source of Buffet’s fortune is the textile firm Berkshire Hathaway which he took over in 1965. Eventually he used the company as a vehicle to invest in varied sectors as insurance, food, utilities and recently green technology. Despite the recent recession, Buffet made a tidy profit with his shrewd investments in Goldman Sachs and General Electronic.

    The 79 year-old self-made billionaire started early in high school where he was successful in making money by delivering newspapers, selling golf balls and stamps, and detailing cars, among other means.  Recently Buffet has emerged as one of the most active contributors to philanthropic causes and has till now gifted $17.3 billion to various causes.


  4. Amancio Ortega

    Even though Spain may soon require a full bailout, one of its citizens recently became the wealthiest person in the euro zone and the third richest man on the planet, edging out American financier Warren Buffet, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The man in question is Amancio Ortega, founder of the luxury fashion house, Zara as well as Inditex whose personal fortune is estimated at $47.4 billion – according to Bloomberg, the surge in Ortega’s fortunes is due to Inditex stock price closing at a record high.

    76 year old Ortega is a self-made billionaire. A railway worker's son, he started as a gofer in a shirt store. With then-wife Rosalia Mera, now also a billionaire, he started making dressing gowns and lingerie in living room. Ortega has three children among whom, his daughter Marta, also works for Inditex. In February 2012, she, married Spanish equestrian star Sergio Alvarez Moya. Ortega himself owns a horse-jumping circuit as well as a stake in a soccer league.
  5. Lawrence Ellison

    Yet another software millionaire, Lawrence Ellison owes his fortune to Oracle, the company he built from a small business in 1977 to an enormous computer corporation. Presently, Ellison enjoys a net worth of $36 billion which shows just how far he has come from his humble beginnings when he was adopted by a grand-aunt because his single mother couldn’t afford to raise him.

    Today the 64 year-old billionaire is married to Melanie Craft, a romance novelist and has two children. This is Ellison’s fourth marriage, all the earlier three having ended in divorce.
  6. Sir Ka-shing Li

    The richest Hong Kong individual is Sir Ka-shing Li who has $25.5 billion worth of assets and ranks as the ninth richest billionaire in the world and according to Forbes, this also makes him Asia's richest person for the first time since 2004. Currently serving as the Chairman of Hutchinson Whampoa Ltd, Ka-Shing Li actually has vast diversified interests, but especially real estate and technology. That Li is always looking for expansion is underlined by the fact that he also has personal investments in tech start-ups like Facebook and Spotify. The extent of such achievement seems incredible considering that Li is actually a school dropout who quit school at age 12 to help support his family. A decade later he started his own business making toys, plastic flowers and the rest, as is said, was history.
  7. Karl Albrecht

    The richest man in Germany is Karl Albrecht with a net worth of $25.4 billion which also makes him the tenth richest billionaire in the world. Brecht owes his fortunes to ownership and operation of the discount division the Aldi supermarket chain, Aldi Sud which now has some 4,500 stores, including 1,200 across 32 U.S. states. It opened its first New York City locations in 2011, one in Queens and another in the Bronx.

    The immensely lucrative venture started out when Karl and his late brother Theo took on their mother's corner grocery store after World War II and turned it into a large retail chain based on low prices in a no-frills setting. In fact to keep costs low, Aldi stores still do not accept credit cards. The brothers split ownership in 1961 – while Karl took the more profitable stores in southern Germany, in addition to the rights to the brand in the U.K., Australia and the U.S., Theo got northern Germany and the rest of Europe.
  8. Michael Bloomberg

    Currently in his third term as New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg spent a reported US$90 million in his campaign. The main source of his US$ 22 billion fortune is his 88% ownership in  Bloomberg LP, the financial data and news outfit which he founded in 1992 and which was gradually expanded to include magazine, radio station as well as cable network.  This is a far cry from his days at Johns Hopkins University where Bloomberg worked as a parking lot attendant to pay his tuition.
  9. Mark Zuckerberg

    Feted as one of the youngest billionaire on the planet, Mark Zuckerberg is worth $17.5 billion according to Forbes 2012 list of the world’s super-rich. In 2012, at 28 he added another feather to his cap by becoming the youngest CEO of a Fortune 1000 company to go public. He is the co-founder and current CEO of the immensely popular social networking site Facebook. Zuckerberg began Facebook from his Harvard dormitory room on February 4, 2004 and then with the help of roommate Dustin Moskovitz, decided to spread it to other schools which had social contacts with Harvard like Stanford, Dartmouth, Columbia, New York University, Cornell, Penn, Brown and Yale. Eventually Zuckerberg and his associates moved to Palo Alto, thus leaving Harvard without a degree but moving onto a path of now-legendary success.
  10. Sergei Brin

    Another of the computer billionaires, Sergei Brin owes his place on the America’s richest men to the world’s most famous internet search engine Google which he famously started with partner Larry Page in a friend’s garage. At just 37 years old, this former immigrant from Russia is one of the world’s youngest billionaires. According to Forbes, Brin enjoys a net worth of $18.7 billion as of March 2012. The story of Google’s launch is now legendary with enthusiasts recounting how Page and Brin dropped out of their computer science PhD program in 1998 and started the world’s most famous web search engine out of a friend’s garage.


  1. Forbes - the World's Billionaires
  2. Forbes - BIll Gates
  3. Bloomberg - Spain’s Ortega Overtakes Buffett as World’s Third-Richest