The 23 Richest Women in the World (And How They Got So Wealthy)

These 23 women hold more wealth than many whole countries. From several generations of the same family to self-made billionaires, these are the 23 richest women in the world.

According to Forbes Magazine, there are 2,668 billionaires in the world in 2022. This year’s list of billionaires includes 327 women, 101 of whom created their own wealth, while the rest inherited theirs.

The 23 Richest Women in the World

The U.S. is home to 90 of these women, followed by China (63, including the 11 in Hong Kong) and 35 from Germany. Some of the richest women in the world are well-known philanthropists, while others keep their image (and their money) to themselves.

1. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers

The richest woman in the world earned her ranking for the second year in a row. Bettencourt Meyers inherited her wealth after her mother, Liliane Bettencourt Meyers, passed away in 2018. At that time, she became the world’s most well-to-do woman. L’Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers is the granddaughter of the founder of the French personal care and make-up company.

Net worth: $74.8 billion
Country: France
Method of earning: inherited

2. Alice Walton

Alice Walton is part of the Walton family, one of the wealthiest families in the world. She inherited her money from her father, Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, an American multinational retail corporation. Thanks to Walmart’s stock price increasing, Alice Walton’s worth rose by an estimated $3.5 billion in 2021. She held the title of the richest woman in the world in 2020 but has since been outranked by Bettencourt Meyers.

Net Worth: $65.3 billion

Country: United States

Method of earning: inherited

3. Julia Koch

Julia Koch became a billionaire when she and her three children inherited 42% of her late husband’s wealth. David Koch owned Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the United States. When he passed away in 2019, Julia Koch became a member of the three comma club and one of the top richest women in the world. She is well-known for her philanthropic deeds.

Net worth: $62 billion

Country: United States

Method of earning: inherited

4. MacKenzie Scott

MacKenzie Scott became the fourth richest woman in the world as part of her divorce settlement. Scott divorced her husband, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019, and part of the settlement included 25% of Bezos’ Amazon holdings. Since then, she has donated more than $12.5 billion, making her one of the world’s richest women and one of the most prolific philanthropists.

Net worth: $60.2 billion

Country: United States

Method of earning: Divorce settlement

5. Maria Franca Fissolo

Maria Franca Fissolo is the widow of Michele Ferrero, who owned Europe’s second-largest confectionery company. Ferrero died in 2015, leaving his wealth to Maria and their adult son. Fissolo is currently worth an estimated $33.4 billion. Ferrero SpA is famous for its chocolate brands, including Ferrero Rocher, Kinder Chocolate, Mon Chéri, Kinder Eggs, and Nutella.

Net worth: $33.4 billion

Country: Italy

Method of earning: Inherited

6. Jacqueline Mars

As her name suggests, Jacqueline Mars is part of the family that created the massive candy company Mars, Inc. They made their fortunes producing brands such as the Mars and Milky Way candy bars, Skittles, Twix & M&M’s. Mars was founded by her grandfather, Frank Mars, in 1911, and Jacqueline Mars inherited an estimated one-third of the company when her father, Forrest Sr, passed away in 1999.

Jacqueline co-owns Mars, Inc. with her brother John. Together with their four sisters, they have an estimated $72 billion of combined wealth, making them the third richest family in the US.

Net worth: $31.7 billion

Country: United States

Method of earning: inherited

7. Gina Rinehart

Georgina “Gina” Rinehart is Australia’s richest person and is the seventh richest woman in the world. She is the Executive Chairwoman of Hancock Prospect, a privately-owned mining company she inherited from her father when he died in 1992. She is currently in a bitter court battle against her children concerning the family trust. The judge presiding over the case has delayed their next court date until 2023, at which time she may see a decrease in her estimated net worth potential removing her from the list of the richest women in the world.

Net worth: $30.2 billion

Country: Australia

Method of earning: inherited

8. Miriam Adelson

Miriam Adelson is the widow of the late casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who held a nearly 50% stake in the Las Vegas Sands properties. Following his death, Adelson inherited her husband’s share in the company, making her one of the richest women in the world and one of the richest people in the world. She is currently ranked 36th on the world’s billionaires list.

Net worth: $27.5 billion

Country: United States

Method of earning: inherited

9. Susanne Klatten

Susan Klatten inherited her wealth from her parents, Johana and Herbert Quandt. She now holds a 19% stake in the German automaker BMW. (Her father is credited with keeping BMW from filing bankruptcy in 1959.) She also owns Atlana, a pharmaceutical/specialty chemical corporation with more than $2.5 billion in annual sales.

Net worth: $24.3 billion

Country: Germany

Method of earning: inherited

10. Iris Fontbona

Iris Fontbona’s late husband died in 2005 after amassing his fortune in beverages and mining. She now owns copper mines throughout Chile and trades on the London Stock Exchange. Her family also owns a majority stake in Quiñenco, another Chilean corporation.

In addition to being the tenth richest woman in the world, Fontbona is the wealthiest person in Chile and the third wealthiest in Latin America.

Net worth: $22.8 billion

Country: Chile

Method of earning: inherited

11. Abigail Johnson

Although Abigail Johnson inherited much of her wealth, she is very much involved in the company that made her an American billionaire businesswoman. Johnson’s grandfather, Edward C. Johnson II, founded Fidelity International, and as of 2013, the Johnson family held a 49% stake in the privately-owned company.

Johnson took over as chair when her father died and is now the CEO and president, giving her complete control of the 45,000 Fidelity employees. In addition to being one of the richest female billionaires in the world, she is also the richest person in Massachusetts.

Net worth: $21.2 billion

Country: United States

Method of earning: inherited

12. Laurene Powell Jobs

The widow of the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc., is said to have a net worth of $21.2 billion. Laurene Powell Jobs inherited her husband’s wealth, including 5.5 million shares of Apple, when he died in 2011. She is also the founder of Emerson Collective and co-founder of College Track. Powell-Jobs currently lives in Palo Alto, California with her three children.

Net worth: $21.2 billion

Country: United States

Method of earning: inherited

13. Yang Huiyan

Yang Huiyan is a Chinese-born businesswoman and is currently the richest woman in Asia. Huiyan’s father founded Country Garden, a real estate company, and transferred 70% of its shares to her before opening for public trading in 2007. She is now on the billionaire’s list with an estimated $20.6 billion and is the majority shareholder of Country Garden Holdings.

Net worth: $20.5 billion

Country: China

Method of earning: inherited

14. Elaine Marshall

Elaine Marshall inherited her husband’s stake in Koch Industries when he passed away in 2006. The American billionaire heiress is now the director of the Kansas-based company. Marshall is not only one of the richest people in America, but she is also ranked #14 among the richest women in the world list. This is due to what is believed to be a 15 percent stake that she holds in Koch Industries.

Net worth: $ 20.5 billion

Country: United States

Method of earning: inherited

15. Wu Yajun

Real Estate tycoon Wu Yajun is one of the five wealthiest women in Asia and is the richest self-made woman in the world. She and her ex-husband co-founded Longfor, a Hong Kong real estate developing company. They divorced in 2012, and he is no longer involved in Longfor. Yajun has a degree in engineering. Before earning her billions in real estate, she worked as a technician in a factory. She also worked for the China Shirong News Agency as a journalist.

Net worth: $15.7 billion

Country: China

Method of earning: real estate

16. Savitri Jindal

Savitri Jindal married Om Prakash Jindal when she was 15 years old. Together they had four sons, and when OP Jindal died in a helicopter crash in 2005, Savitri and her sons each inherited a fifth of his wealth. This made Savitri Jindal one of the richest women in the world, with a net worth of almost $15 billion.

According to Bloomberg.com, as the matriarch of her family, Jindal also inherited her husband’s political constituency. She is a legislator in the state of Haryana, located in Northern India making her one of the most powerful women in India. She lives in New Delhi on the family compound with her four sons and their families.

Net worth: $14.4 billion

Country: India

Method of earning: inherited

17. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken was raised in Amsterdam and made the Forbes list of billionaires when her father, Freddy Heineken, passed away in 2002. Previous to his death, he held a majority stake in Heineken Holdings, a holding company created to oversee control of the family brewing business. She currently has a place on the board at Heineken Holdings. Heineken now lives with her husband and five children in London and Switzerland.

Net worth: $13.6 billion

Country: Holland

Method of earning: inherited

18. Beate Heister

German billionaire heiress Beate Heister is the daughter of Karl Albrecht. He was the co-founder of the retail grocery chain Aldi, which he opened with his brother after returning from WWII. Heister inherited half of her fortune when her father passed away in 2014. Her brother, Karl Albrecht Jr., inherited the other half.

She is married to Peter Heister, and they have six children together. Although Beate Heister has never worked at Aldi, two of her sons serve on the advisory board.

Net worth: $13.2 billion

Country: Germany

Method of earning: inherited

19. Melinda French Gates

Melinda French Gates became one of the wealthiest women in the world following her divorce from Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 2021. Gates is also co-founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The philanthropic organization has donated more than $54 billion in humanitarian aid since it was founded in 1996. French Gates has three children and lives in Seattle.

Net worth: $11.2 billion

Country: United States

Method of earning: divorce settlement

20. Sara Mota de Larrea

Sara Mota de Larrea holds the title of the richest woman in Mexico, with a net worth of $10 billion. She has a 36% share of Grupo Mexico, the world’s 7th largest copper producer. Her family also owns the largest oil drilling and railroad business in Mexico. De Larrea is the widow of Jorge Larrea, who founded Grupo Mexico and was known as the “copper king” until he passed away in 1999.

Net worth: $10 billion

Country: Mexico

Method of earning: inherited

21. Valerie Mars (Tied)

Valerie Mars is the great-granddaughter of Frank Mars, founder of the candy company Mars, Inc. Valerie started working for Mars in 1992 and today is vice-president of corporate development. She is also on the board of directors. Valerie became a billionaire when she and her three sisters each inherited an estimated 8% of the Mars company when their father, Forrest Mars Jr., died in 2016. Valerie Mars is married with two children and lives in New York.

Net worth: $8.4 billion

Country: Unites States

Method of earning: inherited

21. Marijke Mars (Tied)

Marijke Mars is also a great-granddaughter of Frank Mars. Like her three sisters, Marijke’s inheritance was an 8% stake in the Mars company, making each of them among the richest women in the world. Marijke Mars achieved her degree from Duke University and currently lives in Los Angeles, California. She is tied for 21st place among the top richest women in the world, along with her sisters Valerie and Victoria Mars, with a net worth of $8.4 billion.

Net worth: $8.4 billion

Country: Unites States

Method of earning: inherited

21. Victoria Mars (Tied)

Victoria Mars also inherited an 8% stake in the holdings of Mars, Inc. when her father, Forrest Mars Jr., died in 2016. The company is well known for its candies such as Skittles, Milky Way, and M&M’s. Frank Mars, Victoria Mars’s great-grandfather, founded the candy company in 1911. Victoria Mars is married with four children and resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Net worth: $8.4 billion

Country: Unites States

Method of earning: inherited

22. Vicky Safra

Joseph Safra, a Brazilian banker, died in 2020, leaving a portion of his fortune to his wife and four adult children. Vicky Safra then became the wealthiest Greek woman and one of the richest women in the world, valued at $7.3 billion. She lives in Switzerland and is a prolific philanthropist, donating to education, hospitals, and the arts.

Net worth: $7.3 billion

Country: Greece

Method of earning: inherited

23. Sandra Ortega Mera

The wealthiest woman in Spain and one of the richest women in the world is the daughter of the co-founders of Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer. She inherited 5% of Inditex when her mother died in August 2013. She also owns 5% of Pharma Mar, a publically traded Spanish pharmaceutical company. She lives in Spain with her husband and their three children.

Net worth: $5.99 billion

Country: Spain

Method of earning: inherited