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12 Billionaires Who Grew Up In Poverty

Most of the billionaires aren’t born having a silver spoon in their mouth. As a matter of fact, many of them came from literally nothing at all.  Even though the rags-to-riches trope seems to be cliché, but this is really true most especially to these billionaires who grew up in poverty.

1. Kenny Troutt founder of Excel Communications (Net Worth: $1.41 Billion)

Troutt was able to pay his own tuition fee at Southern Illinois University by selling life insurance. In 1988 he founded the Excel Communications, which went public 1996 and this company is where Troutt was able to make most of his money. Two years later, this company was merged with Teleglobe in a $3.5 billion deal.


2. Guy Laliberté Founder of Cirque du Soleil (Net Worth: $1.19 Billion)

Laliberté is a Canadian-born circus entertainer who’s playing the accordion, walking on poles, and eating fire.  He later on took an opportunity and flew a group from Quebec to Los Angeles without even buying a return fair. Luckily, the circus group moved to Las Vegas and turn out to be Cirque du Soleil.  Currently, he is the CEO of Cirque de Soleil.

©Poker Players

3. Oprah Winfrey First African American TV Correspondent (Net Worth: $2.7 Billion)

Winfrey was born in Mississippi into an unfortunate family. But this situation didn’t stop her from obtaining a scholarship to Tennessee State University and becoming the first African American TV correspondent in the state at the young age of 19.


4. Mohed Altrad Montpellier Rugby Club President (Net Worth: $2.7 Billion)

Altrad was born to a nomadic tribe in the Syrian Desert and raised by his grandmother. He was banned to attend school but still make an effort to join the class. He moved to France to have a college degree despite don’t know how to speak French and he only lived off of one meal per day.

Regardless of the hardships, he was able to earn a Ph.D. in computer science, worked a bit and eventually bought a dying scaffolding company.  Altrad was able to transform it into one of the world’s prominent producers of scaffolding and cement mixers, which is now known as the Altrad Group.


5. Howard Schultz Starbucks’ President (Net Worth: $2.9 Billion)

Schultz won a football scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan and he worked for Xerox after he graduated. Soon after, he was able to take over a coffee shop that’s called Starbucks, which at that moment only had 60 shops. Schultz became the Starbucks’ CEO in 1987 and was able to build more than 16,000 stores worldwide.


6. Do Won Chang Founder of Forever 21 (Net Worth: $3.1 Billion)

Do Won Chang and his wife Jin Sook are the ones behind Forever 21. After they moved from Korea to America in 1981, Do Won had to work for three jobs at the same time just to be able to make the ends meet. In 1984, they opened their first clothing store (Forever 21) which now has a 480-store empire and was able to garner around $3 billion of sales a year.


7. Ken Langone One of Home Depot’s Founder (Net Worth: $3.3 Billion)

To be able to help pay for his tuition fees at Bucknell University, Langone worked for strange jobs. It was in 1968 when he worked with Ross Perot to bring Electronic Data Systems public, which was later bought by HP. After two years he partnered with Bernard Marcus to found Home Depot, which went public in the year 1981.


8. Li Ka-Shing Owner of Cheung Kong Industries (Net Worth: $35 Billion)

Ka-shing runs away to mainland China going to Hong Kong in the 1940s. His father passed away when he was 15, which left him responsible for providing the needs of his family. In 1950, he founded his own company, Cheung Kong Industries, which is manufacturing plastics at first but it later develops into real estate.

©South China Morning Post

9. Ralph Lauren Known for Ralph Lauren Corporation (Net Worth: $6.3 Billion)

Lauren finished high school in Bronx, New York and during his college he dropped out to join the Army. While he was working as a clerk at Brooks Brothers, he questioned if men are already prepared for broader and brighter designs in ties. It was in the year 1967, when he decided to make his dream come true. Lauren was able to sell $500,000 worth of ties and he started Polo the following year.


10. Roman Abramovich Owner of Chelsea Football Club (Net Worth: $11.5 Billion)

While studying at the Moscow Auto Transport Institute in the year 1987, he started a small business that produces plastic toys. This helped him eventually in founding an oil business and he was able to create a name within the oil industry. Later, being the only leader of the Sibneft Company, he accomplished a merger that was able to make it the fourth largest oil company in the world. But then in 2005, the company was vended to Gazprom for $13 billion.

Abramovich acquired the Chelsea Football Club in the year 2003 and owns the world’s biggest yacht, which cost nearly $400 million in the year 2010.


11. Shahid Khan Owner of Flex-N-Gate (Net Worth: $7.2 Billion)

Shahid Khan is now considered to be one of the richest people in the world. But despite his current status, Khan came to the US from Pakistan and he worked as a dishwasher while he’s studying at the University of Illinois. Currently, he owns Flex-N-Gate, which is one of the biggest private companies in the US, the soccer club Fulham, and the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

©Sporting News

12. Jan Koum Founder of WhatsApp (Net Worth: $9.2 Billion)

At the age of 16, Koum goes with his mother to California, wherein they were able to secure an apartment through the help of government. For them to survive, he’s sweeping the floors of a local store.

Koum trained himself some computer skills and in 2009, he co-founded the world’s biggest mobile messaging service WhatsApp. But in 2014, it was purchased by Facebook for $22 billion.

©South China Morning post

These are just a few of the rags-to-riches success stories of billionaires. Hopefully, they were able to inspire you in your business endeavors!

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