20 Rags to Riches Stories

Rags to Riches is a situation in which a person make way up from poverty to wealth. From absolute obscurity to heights of fame, in some cases. There are some people who took themselves from the streets to the top of the Forbes’ list. They started their lives as poor but now they are billionaires due to their hard work. We have collected the information of twenty such people, and their stories are inspiring for others.

1. Richard Branson

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas is an English business magnate, philanthropist, and investor. He was born on July 18, 1950, in Blackheath, London, England. Richard Branson created the Virgin Group that controls over 400 companies. He wanted to become an entrepreneur at a young age. His first business venture was a magazine called Student which he published at the age of sixteen. Richard Branson opened a chain of record stores with name Virgin Records, later famous as Virgin Megastores, in 1972. Virgin Records grew rapidly during the 1980s. Then he set up Virgin Atlantic Airline and expanded his brand worldwide. He was knighted at Buckingham Palace for “services to entrepreneurship” in March 2000. Due to his work in music, retail, and transport, for his humanitarian work and his taste for adventure, he became one of the most prominent figures in British culture. Branson’s estimated net worth at the US $5.2 billion, in July 2015. He was included in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons in 2002.

2. Roman Abramovich

Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich is a Russian businessman, politician, and investor, born on October 24, 1966. He is the primary owner of the private investment company, Millhouse LLC. He is popular outside Russia as the owner of a Premier League football team, Chelsea Football Club. He started his multi-billion business during his army service. First, Roman Abramovich worked as a street trader and then as a mechanic at a local factory. He sold imported rubber from his Moscow apartment at the peak of perestroika. He attended the Gubkin Institute of Oil and Gas and then trade commodities for a Swiss trading company, Rubicon. He and his wife Olga set up a company making dolls in 1988. His wealth spread rapidly in within few years, and he started investing in other businesses. He set up at least twenty companies during the early 1990s, in sectors, in bodyguard recruitment and retreading. During 1992 and 1995, he founded five companies, especially in the trading of oil and oil products. Roman Abramovich invested $15 million in Israeli music Group, in 2015.

3. Richard Desmond

Richard Clive Desmond in an English businessman and publisher, born December 8, 1951, in Hampstead, London, England. Richard is the founder of Northern & Shell and owner of Express Newspapers which publishes different celebrity magazines such as New! and OK! And British daily newspapers Daily Express and Daily Star. The company sold its Channel 5 to US broadcaster in May 2014 for 463 million pounds. In April 2016, the company also sold its television network, Portland. According to The Sunday Times Rich List, Richard was 57th richest man in Britain, in 2010. The total worth of his property is 1.49 billion US dollars. He published his autobiography The Real Deal, in 2015. He left school at 15 and started working in the Thomson Group while playing the drums after a day’s work. At 18, he became sales director of Beat Instrument Magazine. He owned two record shops at the age of 21. He combined his interest in advertisement and music for establishing International Musician and Recording world, a monthly magazine, in the mid-1970. Then he founded Northern & Shell Company which began to publish a range of adult magazines and titles.

4. Wayne Huizenga

Harry Wayne Huizenga is an American businessman and entrepreneur. He is the owner of three top-tier professional sports franchises. He enlisted in Army reserve in 1959 and spent six months to complete his basic training. He started his garbage hauling business in Fort Lauderdale. Starting with a single garbage truck, he grew Waste Management, Inc. into the largest waste disposal company in the U.S by 1983. He repeated his success with Blockbuster video, which became the country’s leading movie rental chain by 1994. He formed AutoNation in 1996 which is now the nation’s largest automotive dealer and a Fortune 500 company. Wayne Huizenga was the Ernst & Young “2005 World Entrepreneur of the Year” and has been a five-time recipient of “CEO of the Year” award by Financial World magazine. He sold his ownership in a group of hotels in 2004 and purchased the private luxury yacht Aussie Rules. The cost of Yacht was $77 million at that time.

5. Harold Simmons

Harold Clark Simmons was an American businessman, and billionaire died in 2013. After his graduation, he worked as a bank examiner for the US government in 1952. He bought a small drugstore, using his $5000 savings and $95000 loan in 1960. Then he parlayed it into a chain of 100 stores and sold them for more than $50 million to Eckerd Corporation in 1973. Then he started his career as an investor. He formed the ‘Snake River Sugar Cooperative” of 2000 beet farmers and classified it as a joint venture to purchase his Amalgamated Sugar Company for $260 million. Later he founded Contran Corporation. He controlled five public companies on the NY Stock Exchange.

6. Do Won Chang

Do Won Chang is a Korean-born American business, born on 20 March 1954 in South Korea. He moved to California with his wife in 1981. He opened a clothing store with his wife, Jin Sook then named Fashion 21 in Highland Park, Los Angeles in 1984. Their store grew, and they expanded their business to other locations and changed the name of the store to Forever 21. The chain of stores grew to 457 by 2010. Still, the company is a family corporation. Fobes estimated Do Won Chang and his wife’s net worth to be $4 billion in 2012. The company is now one of the most successful women wear brands in the world. The founder and owners of Forever 21 are Christians; that is why “John 3:16” is on the bottom of every bag.

7. Zdenek Bakala

Zdenek Bakala is a Czech-born businessman, philanthropist, and investor. He started his career at Drexel Burnham Lambert Investment bank in 1989 and then moved to Bank of America. Bakala founded Patria Finance, the first private investment banking group in the Czech Republic. Zdenek Bakala was one of the founders of the Bakala Crossroads group – BXR in 2004, an investment group having a global portfolio of assets. The group bought OKD – a primary hard coal mining company, in the same year. In 2013, he and his wife founded BM Management, a Prague-based company in the Czech Republic to manage their family’s assets. Zdenek Bakala is also very active in philanthropy. He founded the Zdenek Bakala Foundation in 2007 to provide scholarships to talented Czech students at prestigious universities abroad. He also supports the Vaclav Havel Library as a center for the documentation. He is active in the field of media and owns Czech publishing house Economia.

8. Guy Laliberté

Guy Laliberté, is a Canadian businessman, poker player, investor, and musician. He was ranked as the 11th wealthiest Canadian and 459th in the world by Forbes with an estimated net worth of US $ 2.6 billion. In the start, he founded Quebec’s first internationally renowned with a small group of colleagues. Guy Laliberté recognized and cultivated the talents of the buskers and in 1984, created Cirque du Soleil with the help of a government grant. It was a one-year project, but the Quebec government wanted to a touring event to perform in other provinces. He has participated in every Cirque du Soleil new show since 1984. Now, Cirque du Soleil is an international operation regarding its makeup as in the scope of its influence and activities. It is active on five continents, and its shows employ over 4,000 people from more than forty countries and make an estimated annual revenue of 810 million US dollars. He finished fourth in the World Poker Season Five event in April 2007 and won $696,220. He became the first Canadian space tourist in September 2009. He became the owner of the atoll of Nukutepipi in the French Polynesia in 2007.

9. George Soros

George Soros is a Hungarian-American business magnate, political activist, philanthropist, author, and investor. George Soros is the chairman of Soros Fund Management. He is one of the thirty richest people in the world. He is famous as “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” due to his short sale of 10 billion dollars’ worth of Pound Sterling and he made a profit of 1 billion dollars during the Black Wednesday UK currency crises of 1992. He is a famous supporter of American liberal and American progressive political causes. He donated more than $11 to different philanthropic causes between 1979 and 2011. He is the chairman of the Open Society Foundations. At the start, he got a job as a traveling salesman in Welsh seaside resorts and his described that period as the low point of his life. He started his financial career at the merchant bank Singer & Friedlander of London in 1954 as a clerk. He moved to NY City in 1956 and worked as an arbitrage trader for F.M. Mayer. After three years, George Soros moved to Wertheim & Co. as an analyst. After much struggle, he founded Soros Fund Management in 1979 and became its chairman. The business grew up in few decades.

10. John Paul DeJoria

John Paul Jones DeJoria is a Greek-Italian-American businessman and philanthropist. He the co-founder of the Paul Mitchell line of hair products and The Patron Spirits Company. He graduated in 1962 and spent two years in the US Navy. He started his career as an employee of Redken Laboratories. DeJoria was fired from the job. With the partnership of Paul Mitchell, he formed John Paul Mitchell Systems and co-founded the Patron Spirits Company in 1989. The company is famous brand and sold 2,450,000 cases in 2011. He also has an interest in the African Oil Industry. He is the founding partner of the chain of nightclubs, House of Blues. He remained active in the film industry as an executive producer and actor. DeJoria appeared in television commercials in November 2011, for Patron. He also made an appearance on the Showtime series Weeds. He appeared in a broadcast of the ABC reality series Shark Tank on November 1, 2013, as a guest investor.

11. Li Ka-Shing

Sir Ka-Shing Li, JP, GBM, is a Hong Kong Business magnate, philanthropist, and investor. He is the richest person in Hong Kong and the 2nd richest person in Asia, as of March 2016, with an estimated net worth of US $27.1 billion. Currently, he is the chairman of the board of CK Hutchison Holdings. He is the world’s leading port investor, operator, and developer and the largest health and beauty retailer in Europe and Asia. He forced to leave school at the age of 15 due to death of his father. He worked in a plastic trading company for 16 hours daily. Li Ka-Shing started his company, Cheung Kong Industries, in 1950. He converted his plastic manufacturing industry to a leading real estate investment company in Hong Kong. In 1971, the company was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He expanded his business by getting Hutchison Whampoa and Hong Kong Electric Holdings Limited in next few years. In Hong Kong, Li Ka-Shing is referred to as “Superman” due to his business prowess.

12. Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns serves as Chairman and CEO of Xerox. She is the first black American woman CEO of one of the 500 top companies of United States. Forbes rated Ursula Burns as the 22nd most powerful woman in the world. At a start, she worked for Xerox as a summer intern, in 1980 and later joined permanently. She worked in different roles in planning and product development. She became executive assistance of Wayland Hicks in January 1990 and executive assistance to chairman in June 1991. Ursula Burns was named vice president for global manufacturing, in 1991. She was named senior vice president of corporate strategic services in May 2000. After two years, she became president of business group operations. She was named CEO, in July 2009, succeeding Mulcahy until May 2010. In addition to Xerox, Ursula Burns is a board director of the Datto Inc. and American Express Corporation Exxon Mobil Corporation. Ursula Burns is the founding board director of Change the Equation. She became the vice-chair of the President’s Export Council in March 2010.

13. Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz is an American businessman. He is the former owner of the Seattle Supersonics and the CEO and chairman of Starbucks. Howard Schultz was the member of the Board of Directors of Square, Inc. he worked as a salesperson for Xerox Corporation after graduation and promoted to a full sales representative. He became general manager in 1979. He opened his first store of coffee with name “II Giornale.” Then he renamed II Giornale with Starbucks name and expanded its reach across the United States. He keeps insight in real estate, and due to its hard work, his company expanded rapidly. He did not believe in franchising. He wrote his first book in 1997 and his second book was published in 2011, co-written with Joanne Gordon. Howard Schultz returned as CEO of Starbucks after eight years on 8 January 2008. At that time, he was earning a total compensation of $9,740,471. He is a significant stockholder in Jamba Juice. Howard Schultz was awarded the “National Leadership Award” for educational efforts and philanthropic to battle AIDS in 1999.

14. Leonardo Del Vecchio

Leonardo Del Vecchio is an Italian businessman, chairman and founder of Luxottica Group. The Luxottica Group is the world’s largest producer and seller of lenses and glasses. Total employees of the group are 77,734 and over 7,000 stores. Leonardo Del Vecchio is the 2nd richest man in Italy and 37th richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine. He spent his child life in the orphan house because her mother was unable to support him financially. In 1961, he moved to Agordo and started selling complete eyeglass frames under the Luxottica brand. After success, he entered the contract manufacturing business by 1971. He acquired Scarrone, a distribution company, in 1971. The Scarrone set up its first international subsidiary, in Germany, in 1981, the first in the fast period of international expansion. In 1988, the first of numerous licensing deals with designers was struck with Armani. In 1990, his company listed in New York. Then company acquired other brands, starting with Italian brand Vague, Ray-Ban, Persol and US Shoe Corporation, and Sunglass Hut, Inc. they acquired many more retail companies in the 2000s.

15. Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey is a Canadian-American actor, Impressionist, Comedian, Producer, and Screenwriter. He is famous for highly energetic slapstick performances. At the start, his father helped him for a stage act. He moved to Toronto to debut at comedy club Yuk Yuk’s. His family financial struggles made it difficult to support Carrey’s ambitions. When his family problems resolved and they moved to a new home, he returned to the stage with more energy. Jim Carrey went from open-mic nights to regular paid shows. The comedian Rodney Dangerfield signed him to open his tour performances. Due to his increasing popularity, he got attention by filmmakers and seasons producers. 1994 was the breakout year for Jim Carrey. He got the leading roles, in The Mask, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and Dumb and Dumber. He earned $20 million for the next film, The Cable Guy (1996). He enjoyed two decades of famous in the film industry. He released a parody music video with Eels on 25 March 2013, which was set as a musical act during the variety program Hee Haw. Jim Carrey was honored with a limited-edition postages stamp with his portrait on it by Canada Post, on 29 August 2014.

16. Kirk Kerkorian

Kirk Kerkorian was an American businessman, philanthropist, and investor. He was the president and CEO of his private holding company, Tracinda Corporation. He is famous for having been one of the significant figures in the shaping of Las Vegas. Kirk Kerkorian built the largest hotel of the world in Las Vegas three times, the International Hotel, the MGM Grand Hotel, and the MGM Grand. In 1969, he purchased the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio. At the start, he got commercial pilot’s certificate in six months and worked two and half years with Royal Air Force in World War II. After that, he worked as a general aviation pilot and made his first visit to Las Vegas in 1944. He spent three years in Las Vegas and acquired Trans International Airlines with $60,000. Until 1968, he operated the airline and then he sold it to the Transamerica Corporation for $104 million. He bought 80 acres in Las Vegas in 1962. He built the International Hotel on Paradise Road in Las Vegas in 1967. In 2008, the net worth of J.K. Rowling was $16 billion, making him the 41st richest person in the World.

17. J. K. Rowling

Joanne “Jo” Rowling, FRSL, OBE is a British novelist, film producer, and screenwriter. It is the best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. Her book gained worldwide attention, sold more than 400 million copies and won numerous awards. Harry Potter became the best-selling book series in the history. She was born on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England. Before writing the Harry Potter, she was worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International. She got the idea of the Harry Potter series in 1990 while on a delayed train from Manchester to London. Due to death of her, mother, birth of first child, relative poverty and divorce from her first husband, she finished the first novel of the series in seven years. There were six sequels of the novel. J. K. Rowling progressed from living on state benefits to millionaire state within five years. She is the best-selling living author in the United Kingdom, with sales more than 238 million pounds. According to the Sunday Times Rich List, she has a net worth of 600 million pounds, making it the 197th richest person in the Britain.

18. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, actress, talk show host, producer, and philanthropist. She is popular for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated television program in the history and was syndicated nationally from 1986 to 2011. Oprah Winfrey has been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century. Now she is the first North American and only multi-billionaire black person. It also the most influential woman in the world. He got the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barak Obama and honorary doctorate degrees from Harvard and Duke. Oprah Winfrey was molested during her childhood and became pregnant at the age of 14; her son died in infancy. During her school time, she worked in radio and started co-anchoring the local evening news at 19. Due to her emotional ad-lib delivery, she transformed to the daytime-talk-show arena. She boosted a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place on TV. After that, she launched her own production company and became syndicated internationally. She had reinvented her show, the tabloid talk show, with a focus on self-improvement, literature, and spirituality.

19. Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner is an American entrepreneur, stockbroker, investor, author, motivational speaker, stockbroker, and philanthropist. He struggled with homelessness while raising his toddler son, Christopher Gardner, Jr during the early 1980s. At the start, he stayed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, as a medical corpsman for four years. He married Sherry Dyson, a Virginia native on 18 June 1977. He was working as a research lab assistant at UCSF at the time of his son birth. His annual income was $8000 which was not for him support his live-in girlfriend and son. After four years, he got the job as medical equipment with double salary. The stockbroker named Bob Bridges had the main role in the changing the life of Chris Gardner, who met with Chris Gardner in the hospital. Bob organized meetings between Gardner and branch managers at the primary stock brokerage firms. Due to car license problem, he was sent to jail. When he released from the jail, he was unable to meet his living expenses. After a heavy struggle, he established the brokerage firm in 1987. He sold his small stack in a multi-million deal in 2006 and became the CEO and founder of Christopher Gardner International Holdings, with offices in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.

20. Maria das Graças Silva Foster

Maria das Graças Silva Foster, also known as Grace Foster, is a Brazilian business executive and chemical engineer. She was the CEO of Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petrobras-Petroleo Brasil, located in Rio de Janeiro. She was included in the list of 100 most influential people in the world. Grace Foster was ranked the Most Powerful Woman in Business in 2013 by Fortune Magazine. She completed her master degree and joined Petrobras in 1978 as an intern. She was hired as a chimerical engineer after three years. In 1998, she met with Rousseff and developed a lifelong professional relationship. In 2002, Rousseff was appointed as Brazil’s energy minister, and she appointed Foster as one of her top aides in the capital. In this capacity, Grace Foster functioned as both the International Coordinator for the National Program for Biodiesel Production and Use and the Executive Secretary of the Federal Government Program for Mobilizing Brazil’s Oil and Gas Industry. In 2003, she was appointed as the Secretary of Natural Gas, Oil, and Renewable Fuels and also as the President of Petrobras Quimica SA. She was honored by the Order of Rio Branco with the merit rank of Commander, in April 2007.

Aaric Hale

Aaric Hale is a writer whose expertise includes an array of topics across several industries—having done several articles on science, history, and the latest trends. Interested in the act of learning itself, he tries to keep his mind busy with exploring histories, global news, and about the world. Aaric Hale also wants to contribute to the popularization of science and communicate ideas across the globe.