truly inspirational stories of women who rose from rags to riches

We lose hope just before we realize our potential to win. According to our knowledge, we are the only one who is facing some insurmountable adversities that are very much impossible to conquer. But we are wrong. There are certain people around us who made the best out of whatever opportunities they received in their life. Elevating themselves from few pennies,  they rose to hold the million dollar empire. Staring right in the eyes of their difficulties, they handicapped their obstacles instead of getting shaken up by the barriers on their way. Instead of crying “Why Am I” they roared “This is why I was chosen”.

It is challenging for every individual to vanquish their unfortunate circumstances but I believe it is a bit tougher for women to overcome to it. Here I would like to take an opportunity to share with you truly inspirational stories of 5 incredible women who rose from rags to riches.

1) JK Rowling – Devastated woman to billionaire author

jk rowling

In today’s time, JK Rowling is a household name for Harry Potter lovers. But was her journey as gleaming as it seems today? Never. A four-hour delayed journey from Manchester to London spawned the idea of Harry Potter in JK Rowling’s mind. During the course of the novel development, her mother – who was suffering from multiple sclerosis – died. This shattered her completely. The worst thing of all was her mother never knew that she was writing one of the most successful sagas of children books history. It influenced her writing so much that maybe she narrated her own feelings of personal loss in a detailed manner in the first Harry Potter book.

Of course, this was not an end to JK Rowling’s hardships. After the divorce from her thirteen months marriage, she came to Edinburgh, Scotland with her dependent infant daughter. Considering herself as a failure, JK Rowling even thought for suicide. The passion of writing and the wizardry world were the only hopes with her. But after finishing her manuscript, her book was rejected by twelve publishing houses.

None of the above challenges snatched her dreams away from her and affected her determination to face them. Harry Potter series’ first novel published in 1997 by Bloomsbury. This opened the doors of success to JK Rowling thereafter.

2) Patricia Narayan – 50 paise a day to the chain of restaurants

What happens when your Mills & Boons marriage turned out into an utter nightmare? This is the real life story of Patricia Narayan, an owner of the restaurant chain, Sandeepha. Married to the man of her own choice, Patricia’s parents disowned her. Whom she thought as prince charming turned out to be a drug addict and an abusive husband. He used to severely beat her if he hadn’t got the money for his ludicrous pleasures. Patricia was left with only two choices – either to end her and her children’s life or to face her struggle bravely.

Borrowing few bucks from her mother, Patricia started a mobile cart at Marina beach. On the first day, she managed to sell just one cup of coffee worth 50 paise (100 paise = 1 Indian Rupee). Pity things as such did not flicker her resolution to succeed. For the canteen at Slum Control Board, she got her first chance. Patricia climbed the ladder of success with her sheer hard-work and diligence. Sangeetha group offered her directorship of their Nelson Manickam Road restaurant. Following by the sad demise of her daughter Sandheepa and son-in-law, Patricia started the chain of restaurants on her name, nurturing them like they are her own child.

Patricia’s journey started with just 2 people. Currently, 200 employees are working for her restaurants. A 50 paise per day revenue has now grown up to more than Rs 200,000 per day.

3) Zhou Qunfei – Factory worker to China’s richest women

To a poor couple in Hunan province of China in 1970, Zhou Qunfei was born. Her craftsman father was partially blind and she being the brightest of all children, encouraged her for further studies. At the age of five years, Zhou’s mother passed away. The burden to run the family fallen on the shoulders of this little girl. By raising pigs and ducks, she supported her family. In Shenzhen, she worked in a glass processing factory and completed some courses from Shenzhen University. Within three months she resigned, explaining her reasons which moved factory’s owner. He offered her promotion to run new department after accepting resignation from the current position.

In 1993, at the age of 22, Zhou setup factory with the help of her relatives to develop watch glasses with an investment of approximately 20,000 Yuan ($30,000). Winning contract from TCL Corporation was her first big break. To her surprise, in 2003, Motorola helped her to set up the process to develop glasses for Razr V3. Following this, Zhou started Lens Technologies. Later on, Apple and Samsung became her two of the biggest customers bringing around seventy percent of her company’s revenue.

Currently, Lens Technologies employs more than 75000 people. With the listing of IPO in 2015, Zhou Qunfei has officially become China’s richest women.

Moreover, she is from a very few self-made richest women world had ever seen.

4) Olivia Lum – From orphan to Singapore’s water entrepreneur

Olivia Lum never knew her biological parents after her birth. Raised by a lady to whom she called her “grandmother”, Olivia spent her childhood in abject poverty. Selling papaya and other fruits on the streets were her sources of income. At the age of three when her grandmother gambled away all the savings and house, they had to live in a leaky shack. Olivia moved to Singapore to pursue her studies. Here she supported herself by tutoring children and doing several odd jobs. Glaxo Pharmaceuticals, Olivia started her first job after graduating with honors in Chemistry.

Hardships never stopped this young woman to pursue her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Olivia resigned from Glaxo in three years to start Hydrochem with revenue of S$ 20,000. To gather this money, she sold her condominium and car. In the initial days, Olivia used to sell company’s water filters and treatment chemicals on the motorcycle.

Olivia built membrane-based pilot water plant project with the support from her lecturers of the National University of Singapore in 1992. In 2001, her company listed an IPO. However, due to dot-com bubble burst they had to sell stocks at a very cheap price. Hyflux started Singapore’s first water desalination plant in 2005. As of today, Hyflux revenue is more than S$445 million raking in the profit of around S$44 million.

In 2006, Global Water Intelligence, UK awarded Olivia Lum’s company Hyflux,  ‘Water Company of the Year’ at the Global Water Awards.

Olivia Lum has also been awarded the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011, Financial Times ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Award 2011 for Entrepreneurship and Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth 2006.

5) Oprah Winfrey – From abused child to one of the world’s most powerful women


This Queen of the Media and one of the most powerful women in the world had suffered a lot during her childhood days. Being born to an unmarried teenage housemaid, Oprah’s first six years were spent in rural poverty. During this period she stayed with her maternal grandmother. Sometimes she had to wear dresses made up of potato sacks, of which other children used to make fun of. When she was 9, Oprah was molested by her cousin, uncle and family friend. At the age of 13, after suffering years of abuse, she ran away from her home. She became pregnant when she was 14. Unfortunately, her son died due to premature birth. It seemed poverty was rubbed on Oprah’s face every day.

Not a dream childhood, isn’t it?

After this, Oprah moved to Tennessee to her father.  According to her, this was the major turnaround in her life. He encouraged her to take schooling. A win in the public speaking contest awarded Oprah the full scholarship to Tennessee State University. Here, she got a chance to host a talk show for the morning show called People Are Talking.

In Chicago, Oprah hosted the low-rated morning show, AM Chicago. Within months this talk show became highest rated talk show in Chicago at that time. It was renamed to The Oprah Winfrey Show later on. In 1985, she starred in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple Oprah received the nomination for Academy award for Best Actress in Supporting Role f0r this movie. The Oprah Winfrey Show grossed $125 million in its first season. In this first show, Oprah received $30 million dollars. The Oprah Winfrey Show completed 25 seasons and ended in 2011.

In 2011, Oprah Winfrey in association with Discovery Communications launched Oprah Winfrey Network.

Oprah is the recipient of many awards and accolades. The Wikipedia link below shows awards and nominations Oprah received in her entire career till now.

List of Awards And Nominations Received by Oprah Winfrey

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