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Meet the High School Dropout Who Is Now the Richest Self-Ma

Posted at 11:42 AM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-24 13:50:16-04

There's a new richest, and youngest, self-made woman in the world. Her name is Zhou Qunfei, she's under 50 and she's a high school dropout. Zhou, from China, has a total net worth of $10.3 billion, per Bloomberg's latest Billionaires Index. She founded a hugely successful company that makes touchscreens, called Lens Technology. Her prestigious clients include Apple and Samsung. You might be touching a product of Zhou's if you own a smartphone, tablet, laptop or digital camera, according to Reuters. It all started with watches, though. Zhou was a great student, but when she was 16 she had to drop out of school to help support her family. The teen got a job assembling watch lenses. The pay wasn't good, but her family needed her income. Eventually, Zhou started her own company, making her own watch lenses. "I didn't have a diploma, so it was hard for me to find a government job and that's why I decided to be an entrepreneur," she told AFR. In 2003, Samsung called Zhou to place an order. The company was interested in upgrading its phone screens from plastic to glass, wrote the New York Times. With the switch from watch lenses to smartphone screens, Lens Technology took off. AFR writes the company provides the screens for a quarter of all smartphones, and Money estimates the company is worth around $11 billion. Zhou took Lens Technology public in 2015. “In the Hunan language, we call women like her ‘ba de man,’ which means a person who dares to do what others are afraid to do,” Zhou Xinyi, a member of the Lens Technology board and Zhou's cousin, told the New York Times. Zhou's success is all thanks to her incredible work ethic. Employees have said she regularly inspects all aspects of the manufacturing process. She even takes time to work at different stations to make sure everything functions as it should. Zhou also has an apartment at her office, because her days are so long.

The Previous Record Holder

According to Money, Zhou recently overtook Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, for the title of richest self-made woman. You may recall Theranos' struggles began after inaccuracies in its blood tests were revealed. Forbes then abruptly adjusted Holmes' estimated net worth from $4.5 billion to zero. Overall, Zhou currently ranks No. 134 on Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. Jack Ma, the founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, is the highest ranking person from China on the list, with a total net worth of $43.2 billion. Bill Gates holds steady at No. 1 with a total net worth of $91.3 billion.

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