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From Beyoncé Knowles-Carter to Kim Kardashian West, America’s Richest Self-Made Women Under 40

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Taylor Swift was only 18 when she scored her first No. 1 album, the aptly named Fearless, in 2008. After a decade defined by bestselling albums and worldwide tours, the pop star is one of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, with a net worth that Forbes estimates is $360 million.

When Swift first made our list in 2016 with a fortune of $250 million, she was the youngest member by far, at 26, and one of only four women under 40. This year, Forbes expanded the ranks of America’s Richest Self-Made Women to 80 members, four of whom are in their 20s, including Swift, now 29. Another seven are in their 30s.

2019 Billboard Music Awards - Show
Pop star Taylor Swift is worth an estimated $360 million. GETTY IMAGES FOR DCP

The youngest is 21-year-old Kylie Jenner, whose three-year-old beauty brand, Kylie Cosmetics, is worth at least $900 million by Forbes’ estimate. The rest of her fortune comes from her earnings from the profitable business. “I didn’t expect anything,” said Jenner of becoming the world’s youngest self-made billionaire in March. “I did not foresee the future. But the recognition feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.”

Some internet readers didn’t think she deserved the accolades and questioned Forbes’ decision to call her self-made, given her family’s fame and the help she received from her mom, Kris Jenner, in building her cosmetics firm. By Forbes’ definition, the term self-made describes anyone who did not inherit his or her fortune; our methodology is explained further here. The makeup mogul is America’s only female self-made billionaire under the age of 40.

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Whitney Wolfe Herd is the Queen Bee of dating apps.JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

Two other entrepreneurs in their twentiesare newcomers to the self-made women ranks but are well known for founding successful startups. Whitney Wolfe Herd, 29, is worth $290 million thanks to her stake in Bumble, the dating app that lets women make the first move.

Bumble, which boasts 47 million users and topped $175 million in revenue last year, has expanded into friend-finding and networking. Wolfe has also launched a venture capital fund—with tennis champ Serena Williams as a coinvestor—that is focused on early-stage investments in businesses founded and led by women of color and underrepresented groups. “The power lunch is no longer just for men,” Herd told Forbes in 2017. “We all deserve a seat at the table.”

Karissa Bodnar, also 29, started her vegan cosmetics line Thrive Causemetics in 2015 after a close friend passed away from cancer at age 24. Bodnar is worth an estimated $275 million thanks to the success of Thrive Causemetics, which sells one mascara every eight seconds, according to the company. “My advice for young women who want to start their own business is to know your ‘why’ from day one,” Bodnar says.

“There’s nobody that’s going to work as hard as you, and if you don’t know your ‘why’—why you’re starting this business—it’s going to be really tough when you’re up at 4 a.m, printing labels and packing orders for customers.”

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Rihanna is the richest newcomer to the list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.AFP/GETTY IMAGES

America’s richest female musician, Rihanna, debuts at age 31, not because of the money she’s made from singing but mostly thanks to her lucrative partnership with LVMH. Fenty Beauty, the cosmetics brand she co-owns with the luxury goods giant, generated approximately $570 million in revenue last year. With LVMH’s announcement of luxury clothing label Fenty, Rihanna will become the first black woman to run a major fashion house in Paris.

Serena Williams, another newcomer, is famous for her athletic prowess, but off the court she too is venturing into diverse fields, from fashion to venture capital, amassing a fortune estimated at $225 million. Williams, 37, launched a self-funded, direct-to-consumer clothing line, S by Serena, last year, and also owns stakes in the Miami Dolphins and mixed martial arts promoter UFC. The 23-time Grand Slam winner has invested in 34 startups over the past five years through Serena Ventures, targeting companies founded by women and minorities. “I want to be the brand instead of being the face,” Williams told Forbes.

MAKERS 2018
Katrina Lake is the youngest female founder to ever take a company public.© 2018 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP

Some of these women are hesitant to identify as female leaders. “I didn’t want to just be a female CEO,” says Katrina Lake, the 36-year-old founder of online personal styling firm Stitch Fix. “I wanted to be a successful CEO, regardless of gender.”

Still, Lake, worth an estimated $380 million, understands the example she is setting. When she took Stitch Fix public in November 2017, Lake made headlines for becoming the youngest female founder to take a company public—and for holding her young son while ringing the Nasdaq opening bell. She didn’t plan the moment, but she realizes why it was a significant statement. “There just aren’t enough great examples of different types of people that are at the top,” Lake says. “I feel a lot of responsibility in making sure that others can see themselves there, and not just a lot of men in suits.”

America’s Richest Self-Made Women Under 40

Kylie Jenner
Kylie Jenner is America’s only self-made female billionaire under 30.JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

Kylie Jenner

Net Worth: $1 billion

Age: 21

Residence: Hidden Hills, California

Self-Made Score: 7

Taylor Swift

Net Worth: $360 million

Age: 29

Residence: Nashville

Self-Made Score: 8

2018 Forbes Women's Summit
Karissa Bodnar is a newcomer to the rankings of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.2018 GETTY IMAGES

Karissa Bodnar

Net Worth: $275 million

Age: 29

Residence: Los Angeles

Self-Made Score: 9

Whitney Wolfe Herd

Net Worth: $290 million

Age: 29

Residence: Austin, Texas

Self-Made Score: 8

Rihanna

Net Worth: $600 million

Age: 31

Residence: Los Angeles

Self-Made Score: 10

Neha Narkhede
Neha Narkhede is a cofounder of open-source software unicorn Confluent.COURTESY OF CONFLUENT

Neha Narkhede

Net Worth: $360 million

Age: 34

Residence: Palo Alto, California

Self-Made Score: 8

Huda Kattan and Mona Kattan Portrait Session
Huda Kattan built her billion-dollar makeup brand off the beauty blog she started in 2010.MATT LICARI/INVISION/AP

Huda Kattan

Net Worth: $610 million

Age: 35

Residence: Dubai

Self-Made Score: 9

Katrina Lake

Net Worth: $380 million

Age: 36

Residence: San Francisco

Self-Made Score: 8

Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 - Show
Beyoncé first made America’s Richest Self-Made Women’s list in 2015.GETTY IMAGES FOR GLOBAL CITIZEN FESTIVAL: MANDELA 100

Beyoncé Knowles

Net Worth: $400 million

Age: 37

Residence: Los Angeles

Self-Made Score: 8

Serena Williams
Serena Williams graces the cover of our June 2019 issue.COPYRIGHT LEVON BISS 2018

Serena Williams

Net Worth: $225 million

Age: 37

Residence: San Francisco Bay Area

Self-Made Score: 9

Kim Kardashian West
Kim Kardashian West has parlayed her fame into a nine-figure fortune.JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

Kim Kardashian West

Net Worth: $360 million

Age: 38

Residence: Hidden Hills, California

Self-Made Score: 7

Hayley C. Cuccinello; Forbes Staff

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Wealth

Jeff Bezos Is No Longer The Richest Person In The World After Amazon Stock Plunges

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Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos lost his title as the richest man in the world during after-hours trading on Thursday, after his ecommerce behemoth reported lackluster third-quarter earnings. 

Amazon shares fell 7% in after-hours trading, knocking Bezos’ fortune down to $103.9 billion. That puts him at number two among the world’s richest. The new number one: Microsoft cofounder and fellow Washington state resident Bill Gates, who is worth $105.7 billion. 

Bezos became the richest man in the world in 2018 and the first centibillionaire to ever appear on the The Forbes 400 that year with a net worth of $160 billion, ending Gates’ 24-year run as number one. 

READ MORE | Jeff Bezos Unloads Another $990 Million Worth Of Amazon Shares In Early August

But the Amazon chief executive’s net worth drop isn’t entirely due to the decline in Amazon shares. Bezos transferred a quarter of his Amazon stake to his ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos as part of their divorce settlement, which was finalized earlier this year. MacKenzie Bezos is worth $32.7 billion, and among the top twenty wealthiest people in the world. 

On Thursday afternoon, Amazon reported a 26% drop in net income in its third quarter, its first profit decline since 2017.  In after-hours trading, Amazon dropped nearly 9% to $1,624 per share in the 20 minutes after the market closed. It has since rebounded slightly, hovering at $1,657 per share at 7:30 p.m. ET

The company said it is investing heavily in logistics and delivery infrastructure, with the goal of making one-day shipping the norm for Amazon Prime members.

READ MORE | Jeff Bezos Sells About $1.8 Billion Worth Of Amazon Shares In Three Days

The company disclosed during its second quarter earnings call in July that it had spent “a little bit” more than the estimated $800 million that it has previously said it would invest in one-day shipping infrastructure.

The company declined to disclose how much it had spent on one-day shipping in the third quarter. But chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky did disclose Thursday that the company plans to spend $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter, presumably to finance the one-day shipping initiative. 

Gates, meanwhile, has been out of Microsoft since 2014 when he stepped down as chairman of the storied company, though he remains a board member. He has sold or given away the majority of his Microsoft stake and diversified his wealth over time. He is now the co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private charitable foundation in the world. 

Bill Gates debuted on Forbes’ first ever billionaire list in 1987 with a net worth of $1.25 billion. Bezos first joined The Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in 1998, one year after Amazon went public, with a net worth of $1.6 billion. 

-Angel Au-Yeung; Forbes

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These Are The Biggest Givers On The Forbes 400

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This has been a year of record-setting in billionaire philanthropy. In September, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of POM Wonderful and Fiji Water, pledged $750 million to the California Institute of Technology for environmental sustainability research.

In June, Blackstone cofounder Stephen Schwarzman donated $189 million to the University of Oxford—the largest single gift to the school since the Renaissance—to fund its work on humanities. The same month, Broadcom billionaire Henry Samueli pledged $100 million to UCLA’s engineering school, the largest gift ever to the department. 

Forbes tracks gifts and pledges like these as part of our ongoing coverage of charitable giving by the country’s richest people.

READ MORE | The World’s Most Generous Billionaires Outside Of The US

For the second year in a row, Forbes tracked the philanthropic giving of the richest 400 individuals in the U.S. and gave each member of The Forbes 400 list a philanthropy score. The score ranged from 1 to 5,  with 5 being the most philanthropic. List members for whom we could find no charitable giving information received an N.A. (not available).

Philanthropy Forbes 400
FORBES

Though the number of the biggest givers—those who scored a 5—stayed flat in 2019, those who received scores of 4 and 3 increased compared with a year ago.

The changes reflect two things: The country’s richest have gotten somewhat more generous, and Forbes had more information to work with this year. Some billionaires were willing to share information on charitable giving for the 2019 list who didn’t in 2018. As a result, four dozen people got higher scores this year than a year ago. 

This year, Warren Buffett led the list of top givers with $38.8 billion in lifetime giving, which is 32% of his net worth, and earned the top score of 5.

He was followed by last year’s biggest giver, Bill Gates, who has donated $38.5 billion so far. Two people who scored a 5 last year—Paul Allen and David Koch—passed away.

READ MORE: Forbes Africa | 8 Years And Growing

Billionaires like DreamWorks Pictures founder David Geffen and WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton moved up to the top score after each scored a 4 last year. According to the latest tax filings, Geffen gave $38 million to his foundation in 2017, which brought his lifetime giving to about $1 billion.

Acton and his wife Tegan, on the other hand, have been expanding their philanthropic network, Wildcard Giving, which they founded in 2014 after Acton sold WhatsApp to Facebook. The couple has given away more than $1 billion to charitable causes.

2019 Forbes 400 Giving
FORBES

Forty-one billionaires, including Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings and software billionaire Philip “Terry” Ragon, got higher scores this year than last year. Some, like Stephen Schwarzman, earned a higher score thanks to giving in the past year.

Others scored higher because we were able to find more information about their lifetime giving, through new public documents or details provided to us by Forbes 400 members or their spokespeople. In September, a Los Angeles Times report revealed that B.

Wayne Hughes, cofounder of self-storage behemoth Public Storage, had anonymously donated about $400 million to the University of Southern California in his lifetime. Hughes, who scored a 2 last year, jumped up to a 4.

Private equity tycoon Robert F. Smith’s pledge in May to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College generated lots of headlines but did not end up changing his score because the gift wasn’t big enough to move him up a notch. In many cases, fortunes grew faster than lifetime philanthropic giving. 

READ MORE | Noëlla Coursaris Musunka The Trailblazer In The Congo

To come up with the information on which we based our score, Forbes reporters looked at tax filings for charitable foundations, annual statements, SEC filings and news about new gifts. When possible, we interviewed Forbes 400 members and executives from their foundations. Some Forbes 400 members said they have chosen to donate anonymously, citing religious or privacy concerns. 

Our score is based on total lifetime giving and what percent of their fortune members had given away. We weighted these two factors equally. Some individuals were then bumped up or down based on several other factors, including whether they had signed the Giving Pledge, whether they had pledged significant donations, how personally involved they were in their charitable giving, and how quickly and effectively their private foundations distributed dollars. We didn’t count pledges or announced gifts that have yet to be paid out, but we took commitment to philanthropy—or lack thereof—into account.

Forbes has been tracking the wealth of the richest Americans since 1982. “Some of [the members] told us to drop dead,” James Michaels, veteran editor of Forbes, told the New York Times in a 1982 story about the list’s debut. “They said they wanted no part of it, that they’d sue us.

This happens in reporting.” At times, our reporting on philanthropic giving received a similar response. “The new philanthropy ranking is fundamentally flawed, in that it is biased in favor of those who make their gifts widely known, and against donors who choose to make their charitable contributions anonymously,” one current Forbes 400 member (who did not wish to be named) wrote to us last year.

-Deniz Çam; Forbes

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Cover Story

Mastercard: Diligent About Digital In Africa

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Mastercard knows only too well that technology can drive inclusive financial growth with simpler and more efficient ways to do business and life. And Raghu Malhotra, the man spearheading this trajectory in Africa, is also focused on social progress.


In many ways, Raghu Malhotra is like the brand he works for, leaving his footprints in different parts of the world, and in some cases, the most unlikely corners.

On a scorching summer’s day in June 2016, Malhotra traveled 100km east of Jordan’s capital city Amman, to a camp with white tents named Azraq built for the refugees of the Syrian Civil War.

In the desert terrain and hot, windy conditions, people had to queue for hours on end for plates of food handed out of visiting trucks. But some of them, displaced and homeless overnight, expressed their gratitude to Malhotra, President for Mastercard in the Middle East and Africa (MEA).

Mastercard, a technology company that engages in the global payments industry, had distributed e-cards, as part of a global collaboration with the World Food Programme, to the refugees that they could now use to purchase food and other supplies from local shops.

READ MORE | The Big Bank Theory: South Africa’s Banks Of The Future

 “I spoke to the people myself and saw what their lives were… Even those who were doctors with their families and were displaced… They said to me ‘you have restored dignity to our lives; you have no idea how demeaning it is to queue up to be given food’… We actually digitized how that subsidy for food was given. Some of these things go beyond economics,” says Malhotra. 

Beyond economics.

That very simply sums up Malhotra’s mandate for Africa as well.

The New York-headquartered Mastercard, ranked No. 43 on Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands, with a market cap of $247 billion, which connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and business, is fostering key partnerships across the African continent to help drive inclusive economic growth.

The idea, Malhotra says, “is to get our global skill-set to operate in its most efficient form in every local economy, at the same time, we must do good, and it must be sustainable.”

He calls Africa the next bastion of growth for various industries.

“As a company, we have stated we are going to get 500 million new consumers globally. And Africa plays a big part of that whole story… We want to be an integral part of various economies here,” says the man responsible for driving Mastercard’s global strategy across 69 markets.

Raghu Malhotra President for Mastercard in the Middle East and Africa. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

“It probably took us over 20 years to get the first 50 million new consumers, in my part of the world, which is the Middle East and Africa (MEA). It took us probably five years to get the next 50 million, and last year alone, we put over 50 million consumers [in the formal economy] in MEA. That is part of our whole African story, so this is just not rhetoric; we are actually building our business on that basis.”

Home to four of the world’s top five fastest-growing economies, Africa has the fastest urbanization rate in the world, the youngest population, and a rapidly expanding middle class predicted to increase business and consumer spending.

It’s a continent of opportunity for global players like Mastercard with an eye on the potential of a booming consumer base and small and medium entrepreneurs, most of whom are still not a part of the formal economy. A large proportion of Africa is still unbanked. There is enough business opportunity in offering people digital tools so they can lead respectable financial lives.

READ MORE | The Monk Of Business: Ylias Akbaraly Talks About Secret To Success And Plans To Take Africa With Him

But it is in knowing that financial inclusion is not just about technology, but more about solving bigger problems, as the World Bank says in its overview for Africa: “Achieving higher inclusive growth and reaping the benefits of a demographic dividend will require going beyond a business as usual approach to development for Africa. Going forward, it is imperative that the region undertakes the following four actions, concurrently: invest more and better in its people; leapfrog into the 21st century digital and high-tech economy; harness private finance and know-how to fill the infrastructure gap; and build resilience to fragility and conflict and climate change.”

And in order to enable financial access, Mastercard has a balanced strategy in place, with the right partnerships for inclusive growth on the continent, Malhotra tells FORBES AFRICA.

“Every emerging market has different segments of people and you need to get the right product for the right segment. What we do is a balanced growth strategy across the continent based on timing, opportunity etc… Of course, because the bottom of the pyramid is much bigger, I think what we need is to adapt things differently; that is where the inclusive growth story comes from. That is where the opportunity is, but there is a second part to it…” And that, he summarizes, is advancing sustainable growth, doing good and bringing more transparency and efficiency.

The new pragmatic dispensation of governments in Africa towards ideas, technology and innovation has surely helped open up the stage to newer segment-driven products, especially as Africa already has such global laurels as Safaricom’s mobile money transfer and micro-financing service M-Pesa that took financial access to a whole new level. Also, sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world.

READ MORE | Feisty And Fearless Pioneers Thandi Ndlovu & Nonkululeko Gobodo

Malhotra says he finds African governments consistent in how they are rolling out their digital vision, and in trying to collaborate towards creating better ecosystems for their economies, though each is unique with its own dossier of problems.

“When I speak to various governments around Africa, I see a commonality of what their needs are and I also see a commonality in how they are trying to respond. So I think a lot of them realize running cash economies is a very inefficient way of doing things… Also, the consumer base is much more open to new technology because there is no bedded infrastructure or legacy infrastructure. I think where governments need to start thinking a bit more is how much do they want to do completely on their own.”

Part of this transformation on the path to financial progress is alleviating the burden of cash. Cash still accounts for most consumer payments in Africa. Mastercard, which started out as synonymous with credit cards, continues its efforts to convert consumers from cash to electronic transactions, and move beyond plastic.

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