In the world of business, billionaires are the highest achievers. Being a billionaire by global standards means that you have over $1 billion. This is a tremendous achievement and we aspire to become as wealthy as they are. Some individuals are billionaires through inheritance. They got their fortune from their family. Others are entirely self made. Being self made means that you acquired your wealth from your own efforts and enterprise. By applying a winning attitude, years of blood ,sweat and tears, some people made it from poverty to billions. Here are 10 self made billionaires who grew up poor.


She is one of the most successful authors of all time. Her name is literally synonymous with Harry Potter and has $1 billion. It is almost impossible to believe that only 20 years ago, Joanne Rowling was so poor that she and her child relied on government welfare to survive. After getting a meagre meal, Joanne would put her child to sleep and work voraciously on her first novel, 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'. Once this book was published, the world loved her work so much that it was developed into a series of blockbuster movies. J.K. Rowling's life turned around for the better and she is a legitimate billionaire.

Leon Charney

Worth $1.3 billion, Leon is a master investor and an expert of Middle Eastern geopolitics. His illustrious career as an investor and presidential advisor began with only $200. Leon was down and poor when he decided to get a full understanding of the Middle Eastern business and political scene. By burning the midnight oil, Leon became an expert and began to offer his guidance for a free. He also invested his own money in the right places and his fortune grew from a few hundred dollars to billions.

Oprah Winfrey

Almost everyone in the world has heard of Oprah, the talkshow queen. With a current net worth of $2.9 billion, Oprah lives a luxurious life. Her beginning was nowhere near her current life. When she was a child, her family was so poor that Oprah actually had to wear potato sacks as clothes. Despite her unfortunate beginning, Oprah followed her dream of being a talk show host. She became a news reporter in Tennessee. After that, she started her own talk show and struck gold. Syndication companies began to pay her millions of dollars. She expanded her enterprise to include holdings and investments in media firms and eventually built a billion dollar portfolio. Of all the billionaires who made it from abject poverty, Oprah is one of the most striking figures.

Shahid Khan

Another name that might not ring bells is this one. Shahid is the owner of a massive auto parts enterprise and the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team. He is also an expert on how to build an empire slowly. Mr. Khan moved to the USA from Pakistan. When he arrived, he had to live at the local YMCA for $60 per month. It was not a glorious residence but Shahid made it. He washed dishes and saved up enough money to start an auto parts business. Thanks to great effort and dedication, he grew his small business into a billion dollar enterprise.

Kenny Troutt

He owns a telecommunications company and is worth $1.7 billion. Kenny had to work for every single dollar in his fortune. His father didn't make much money. So after high school, Kenny sold life insurance so as to pay for his tuition at the Southern Illinois University. After graduation, he founded a phone company known as Excel Communications in 1988 and he had it listed in the stock exchange in 1996. In 1998, Kenny's company merged with another in a deal worth $3.5 billion. Currently retired and a racehorse enthusiast, Kenny Troutt made it from scratch to billions.

Howard Schultz

Every time we have a coffee at Starbucks, we have Howard Schultz to thank. He is worth $2 billion and thus very wealthy. Life was not always so rosy for him. He was raised in a housing complex that was built for the poor. Being good at sports, he won a football scholarship from the University of Northern Michigan. Afterwards, Howard took over a small coffee establishment known as Starbucks and converted it from a 60 shop network into a worldwide chain that is worth billions.

Kenneth Langone

He is an astute investor and business owner today. Having built two companies (one of which is Home Depot) and then taken them public, Ken can be considered a business genius. He knows the rough side of life because he grew up poor. His parents were a plumber and a cafeteria worker. They mortgaged their house and combined the money with savings from Ken's odd jobs to pay for tuition at the Bucknell University. After graduation, Ken worked for these companies, took them over, made them highly successful and made a tidy sum for himself.

Kirk Kerkorian

Coming from an Armenian family, Kirk left school early and became a boxer. He would use his winnings to survive and was referred to as 'Rifle Right Kerkorian'. Later on during World War 2, he was with the Royal Air Force. Once peace had returned, Kirk looked to Las Vegas and built some of the biggest hotels and resort some of the biggest hotels and resorts in the gambling paradise. Kirk fought his way from poverty to $3.9 billion.

John Paul DeJoria

His business career began when he was only 10 years old. John sold cards during Christmas and also newspapers for the purpose of supporting his family. Eventually, his parents could not support him and he was sent off to live with a foster family. He felt unsettled and joined a gang before going to the military. There, he acquired a $700 loan and established the John Paul Shampoo which he sold door to door. During this time, he lived in his car. Later on, he founded the Patron business and paved his way to billions.

Roman Abramovich

Born into abject poverty in Southern Russia, Roman was orphaned at two years old. His uncle raised him in the Northern part of Russia close to the Arctic. Roman's entrepreneurial skill entrepreneurial skill showed early because he founded a small company for producing plastic toys while still a student at the Moscow Auto Transport Institute. This opened up his horizons into the oil industry and he joined it. While the CEO and majority owner of Sibneft oil company, he signed a deal with Gazprom that made him part of the ownership of the fourth biggest oil company globally. Roman is currently worth $8.2 billion.

The Important Take Away

Each one of the billionaires mentioned above made it from very humble beginnings. Theirs is a story of hard work, grit and dedication. We can learn how to follow our dreams and do what is necessary to achieve them from the billionaires in this list.