“I strongly believe that those of us, who are privileged to have wealth, should contribute significantly to try and create a better world for the millions who are far less privileged.”
Azim Premji, one of India’s most prestigious business tycoons, is well-known for his philanthropic work. Currently, the second richest Indian with assets worth of $18.8 billion, Mr. Premji is celebrated for his modesty and down-to-earth personality.
Mr. Premji inherited Wipro at the age of 21, in 1966, after the sudden demise of his father M.H. Hasham Premji – an affluent Gujarati entrepreneur. Then Wipro was mere a vegetable oil company. During this time, Azim was pursuing Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, USA. As per a report, it’s learnt that Azim was asked to sell his shareholding considering he was just a student. Instead, he decided to run the company and made it a success story.
In the 1970s, Wipro switched its business interests from soaps to software services while taking advantage of the expulsion of IBM from the Indian market; this made Mr. Premji one of the richest Indians and put Wipro among the top global leaders.
Wipro grew from a Rs 70 million company to a leader in providing integrated business, technology and process solutions on an international platform. The credit goes to Mr. Premji; his company is the largest independent R&D service provider in the world and is ranked among the top 100 technology companies internationally.
Mr. Premji was conferred the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2015 and was awarded Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award, in 2011.
In spite of his overwhelming wealth, Mr. Premji stays grounded and humble. For instance, he drives a Toyota Corolla and travels in economy class. He prefers to stay in company quarters rather than luxury hotels.
As CSR, Mr. Premji founded ‘Azim Premji Foundation’ or APF in 2001. It’s a not-for-profit organisation that has been working with the elementary education system in rural government-run schools. The Foundation is also involved in computer-based assessment in Andhra Pradesh, a learning guarantee programme, and a policy planning unit in Karnataka.
APF began by implementing various programmes to improve educational quality across the country. Today, the Foundation with over 1000 employees has field institutes in over 40 districts across six states and one union territory (Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Puducherry) reaching more than 3,50,000 schools across the country.
Continues to Stand Tall
At the age of 73, Mr. Premji still continues to guide Wipro through four decades of diversification to emerge as one of the leading brands in the software industry. He is a living icon among Indian businessmen and is a source of inspiration to a number of budding entrepreneurs.