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HomeFace of BangaloreFamous PeopleHow Azim Premji Became India's Richest Tech Tycoon and a Champion of...

How Azim Premji Became India’s Richest Tech Tycoon and a Champion of Education

Azim Premji is one of India’s most distinguished business leaders and philanthropists.

Born in 1945 to an affluent family in Bombay, Premji initially studied engineering before taking over his father’s company, Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd, at 21.

Under Premji’s leadership, the firm expanded from manufacturing hydrogenated oil into a global IT powerhouse, Wipro Limited.

Today, Wipro is recognized as a leading technology services and consulting company, a transformation that has established Premji as one of India’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Outside the business world, Premji is renowned for his considerable charitable work, particularly in education.

Passionate about improving school learning and opportunities for underprivileged children, Premji’s generous donations through the Azim Premji Foundation have boosted quality and remote access to education across India.

For his lifelong accomplishments spanning industry and society, Premji is an inspiration for pioneering a more equitable future for India.

Azim Premji’s Early Life and Education

Born on 24th July 1945 into a business family in Bombay, India.

Azim Premji’s father, M.H. Hasham Premji, founded Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd, a company Azim would later lead.

He attended prestigious schools in Bombay, completing his studies at the Cathedral and John Connon School.

In 1966, Azim Premji enrolled at Stanford University to study engineering.

However, his education was cut short when his father passed away unexpectedly.

At 21, he returned home to take over his family’s small vegetable oil company.

Though he did not graduate, the leadership and skills he gained at Stanford would prove instrumental in his success in transforming the family business into the global technology giant Wipro Limited.

Although interrupted, Premji’s early life and education prepared him to overcome difficult circumstances and build an internationally renowned company.

His background instilled a dedication to excellence that guides his accomplishments in business and philanthropy today.

Azim Premji’s Journey to Becoming a Billionaire

Azim Premji's Journey to Becoming a Billionaire

(Source: The CSR Universe)

The path to Azim Premji becoming a billionaire began in 1966 when he took over his family’s small vegetable oil company, Wipro Limited, at 21.

Though Wipro then produced cooking oil, he seized an opportunity in the emerging information technology industry.

He swiftly diversified into IT, growing Wipro’s services and consulting business into a global technology leader.

The success he received owes only to recognizing and seizing opportunities.

Recognizing the potential of the IT industry in India, he took a bold step early on by investing in Wipro to establish its competitive advantage.

By 2000, Wipro was the first Indian software company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Today, Wipro has a market capitalization exceeding $90 billion, making Azim Premji one of India’s wealthiest individuals.

He has consistently focused on quality and customer satisfaction, embedding these values across Wipro.

This customer-centric approach has forged loyalty and cemented Wipro’s exceptional reputation.

Through vision and integrity, Azim Premji has built one of India’s most distinguished companies and a personal fortune enabling extensive philanthropic work.

Azim Premji’s Philanthropic Efforts Through the Azim Premji Foundation

Azim Premji Foundation

(Source: Azim Premji Foundation FB Page)

Philanthropic work has always been one of the main objectives of the Azim Premji Foundation to advance vulnerable groups’ well-being.

This supports organizations benefiting the urban poor, disabled, gender violence survivors, at-risk youth, children needing care, farmers, laborers, and tribes.

Grants are provided for immediate help and access to essentials, enabling dignity.

Another focus is education.

The Foundation enhances India’s education by training teachers, developing curriculum and materials, and establishing model schools.

It also founded Bangalore’s Azim Premji University, offering education and development degrees.

Additionally, here is the list of initiatives promoting education and leadership through the Azim Premji Foundation:

  • Azim Premji University from 2011 offers undergraduate and postgraduate study in education, development, and policy
  • Field Institutes from 2010 provide training and support for social sector grassroots workers
  • Computer Aided Learning Programme from 2001-2008 enhanced government school education through technology
  • Accelerated Learning Programme from 2002-2004 provided remedial education for struggling students
  • The Learning Guarantee Programme from 2002-2008 ensured all government school students received a quality education
  • Child-Friendly Schools Initiative from 2004-2011 made government schools more inclusive and student-oriented
  • Policy Planning Unit from 2003-2015 researched education, healthcare, and livelihood issues
  • Andhra Pradesh Randomized Evaluation Study from 2004-2013 evaluated a program improving government school education in Andhra Pradesh
  • Namma Shale from 2003-2010, improved government school education in Karnataka
  • Institutional Capacity Development from 2010-2013 trained government officials to improve public service delivery
  • Education for Children of Migrant Labor from 2007-present provides excluded migrant children with education and support
  • Namma Shale Plus from 2012-2015 expanded on Namma Shale to further enhance Karnataka government school education
  • Education Leadership Development Programmes from 2006-2016 trained principals and administrators to improve government school education quality

Azim Premji has demonstrated a deep commitment to enabling dignity and opportunity for vulnerable groups and communities.

His philanthropic work parallels business success, focusing on people’s long-term growth and progress.

Azim Premji’s Net Worth

Azim Premji's Net Worth

(Source: The News Minute)

One of India’s wealthiest individuals, Azim Premji, has an estimated net worth of $9 billion as of 2023 according to Forbes.

His fortune stems primarily from ownership in Wipro Limited, the global IT services company he transformed from a family vegetable oil manufacturer.

Though his net worth fluctuates with the market, his enduring success and frugal lifestyle have cemented his place among India’s richest with a profound influence.

Despite immense wealth, Azim upholds an unassuming life and a strong commitment to philanthropy.

The Azim Premji Foundation receives a significant portion of his assets to advance vulnerable groups’ well-being.

From modest beginnings, his far-sightedness and integrity have built a distinguished company and personal means to give back on a monumental scale.

A Look at Azim Premji’s Family and Personal Life

Azim Premji's Family and Personal Life

(Source: The Economic Times)

Yasmeen Premji, Azim’s wife

Passion for nature and education inspires decades of partnership in love and philanthropy.

A former teacher cultivating young minds, Yasmeen nurtures the Foundation’s mission and future stewards of our world.

In service over accolade, she exemplifies selfless commitment far outliving her name.

Rishad Premji

Azim Premji’s elder son, Wipro Limited Chairman.

Drove digital transformation and expanded digital services and acquisitions.

He was a graduate of Harvard Business School and Wesleyan University.

Married to Aditi Premji with two children, Rhea and Rohaan.

Aditi Premji

Rishad Premji’s wife is involved in Azim Premji Foundation’s education efforts and is a Stanford University graduate who worked in U.S. education.

Their children reflect these timeless values:

Rhea Premji

The eldest, Rhea pursues higher studies with a lifelong thirst for learning.

At Foundation programs, compassion shapes a vision of education empowerment.

Rohaan Premji

A sports enthusiast since youth, Rohaan brings discipline and team spirit to all fields.

He also Volunteers with the foundation.

Tariq Premji, Azim’s younger son

A truer calling than leading the House of Premji brings Tariq to the Foundation’s service.

Duty done without fanfare, Tariq listens and works alongside communities cultivating collaborative answers for sustainability.

Across differences, Azim Premji’s family shares faith in humanity and the greater good.

Partners in purpose, the Foundation they steward makes common cause advancing vulnerable communities toward futures of promise and hope.

Theirs are stories to stir timeless inspiration.

Azim Premji’s Role in Wipro Limited and Other Companies he has Invested in

Wipro Pune, Azim Premji

(Source: Glassdoor)

Azim Premji’s foresight and perseverance built Wipro Ltd. into a global IT leader.

Since inheriting the company in 1966, he has championed innovation and customer service, fostering responsible growth through diverse markets and technologies.

Today Wipro’s software and services touch lives worldwide.

Beyond Wipro, Premji invests in future progress.

He has also invested in promising companies across India’s digital economy, including e-commerce pioneer Snapdeal, eyewear brand Lenskart, insurance platform PolicyBazaar, and media technology leader Amagi Media.

In 2018, he also sold $500 million of Wipro shares to finance philanthropic work through his Azim Premji Foundation.

Premji also invested $25 million in ID Fresh Foods, a Bengaluru company delivering affordable nutrition.

The stake marks his support of sustainable businesses uplifting society, a vision of success serving the common good.

By wisdom, conviction, and no small risk, Azim Premji continues building the future he wishes to see.

Azim Premji University in Bangalore

Azim Premji University in Bangalore

(Source: Azim Premji University)

Azim Premji didn’t build a business empire by chasing profit alone.

Beyond commercial success, he envisioned a thriving society where all could achieve their potential.

This vision occurred in Azim Premji University, founded in 2010 to reimagine education for the public good.

Azim Premji University, a leading institution in Bangalore, India, offers high-quality, interdisciplinary programs.

Rather than siloed study, courses integrate fields from sciences to humanities to give students a comprehensive understanding of social issues and solutions.

History

Early on, Premji envisioned a just and thriving society, founding the Azim Premji Foundation in 2001 to help realize this vision.

But charitable work’s limits soon became clear.

Piecemeal programs needed to be more.

So he dared to take a bold step: to found a university delivering high-quality education as a force for progress.

In 2010, Azim Premji University opened in Bangalore.

It would cultivate purpose-driven learning to address social challenges.

Rather than a premier institution, it welcomed diverse students to gain knowledge and skills for positive change.

Community engagement and research would tackle inequality, livelihood crises, poor governance, and more.

The vision behind this was a world-class university fostering education and discovery in service of society.

At Azim Premji University, this vision comes alive through interdisciplinary approaches, youth empowerment, and work benefiting those most in need.

It reimagines higher learning as a partner in building justice and sustainability for future generations.

Azim Premji once again proves business success means little without moral leadership guiding progress.

Mission

Azim Premji University Campus

(Souce: Azim Premji University)

The mission behind Azim Premji University is to advance this vision through high-quality education and research addressing profound social challenges.

The university believes education can transform people and societies.

It offers rigorous yet relevant programs, welcoming students regardless of background.

Interdisciplinary courses apply diverse fields to equip learners with knowledge and skills for positive impact.

Research inquires into inequality, environmental decline, and other issues marginalizing communities.

It involves collaboration with stakeholders to benefit those facing disadvantages.

Knowledge created, applied, and shared contributes to more equitable solutions and policies.

By pursuing its mission through learning and discovery, Azim Premji University reimagines education’s purpose and higher education’s role in society.

Courses

Azim Premji University offers undergraduate, postgraduate, diploma, and certificate programs preparing students to advance in a just society.

Below are special offerings:

Undergraduate

  • BA in Economics, English, History, Philosophy, Social Science
  • BSc in Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Physics
  • Dual Degree in Science and Education

Postgraduate

  • Master of Public Health
  • MA in Education, Development, Economics
  • LLM in Law and Development

Diploma

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Research for Social Action, Development Leadership
  • Diploma in Learning Disability, Inclusive Education, Early Childhood Education

Certificate Courses

  • Courses for working professionals meeting time constraints, engaging interactive activities, and field visits. Participants receive a certificate upon completion.

The university’s experienced, socially committed faculty expose students to diverse perspectives through coursework, practical experiences, and critical thinking preparation for careers advancing equity and leadership.

Unique Fee Structure

The fee structure for various courses offered at Azim Premji University is as follows:

COURSES

FEES (in INR)

ELIGIBILITY

B.Sc

2.97 Lakhs(1st Year Fees)

10+2 with 50%

MA

1 Lakh (1st Year Fees)

Graduation

BA

₹2.97 Lakhs (1st Year Fees)

10+2 with 50%

L.L.M

₹1 Lakh (Total Fees)

L.L.B.

B.Sc + B.Ed

₹2.97 Lakhs (1st Year Fees)

10+2 with 50%

Diploma

₹35,400 (Total Fees)

Graduation

Post Graduate Diploma

₹30,000 (Total Fees)

Graduation

Admission Process

Azim Premji University’s admission process considers candidates’ merit and potential for positive societal impact:

  • Submit an online application with personal and educational details
  • Entrance exam tests analytical, reasoning, language, and subject skills
  • Personal interview evaluates communication, knowledge, and program fit
  • Final selection based on exam, interview, and academic performance

The university’s holistic review provides opportunities for candidates from diverse backgrounds. Financial assistance ensures higher education is within reach for all.

Through an inclusive process, Azim Premji University admits students poised to shape a just and sustainable future for all.

Below are some important dates for the Admission process:

Process

Postgraduate

Undergraduate

(For MA Education, MA Development, MA Economics, LLM in Law and Development)

(For BA Honors, BSc Honors, BSc BEd)

Applications open

5 JAN 2023

5 JAN 2023

Last Date to Apply

14 FEB 2023

11 MAR 2023

National Entrance Test

12 MAR 2023

9 APR 2023

Personal Interviews

APRIL 2023

APRIL-MAY 2023

Admission Offers

MAY 2023

MAY 2023

Commencement of Session

JUL 2023

JUL 2023

To know more about our diploma programmes in development and education for practicing professionals, please visit the Diploma – Azim Premji University.

Impact of Azim Premji’s Contributions to Society and Education

Azim Premji, social contributions, Bangalore, Karnataka

(Source: Azim Premji University)

The philanthropic vision Azim Premji had arisen from a conviction that purpose beyond profit could build a just and thriving society for all.

He brought this vision to life through the Azim Premji Foundation and University, founded to advance education and social welfare.

The Azim Premji University fosters excellence and opportunity, offering diverse subjects on a unique fee structure making higher education achievable for students of all backgrounds.

Meanwhile, the Azim Premji Foundation advances education quality, training over 350,000 teachers across 3,000 rural schools.

The foundation also enhances livelihoods, sustainable agriculture, and disaster relief for vulnerable communities.

His profound contributions to society and education have been globally recognized. Awards include the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest honor, and Forbes Asia’s Philanthropist of the Year.

Azim Premji pledged the majority of his wealth to the common good, demonstrating extraordinary commitment to unleashing human potential for the benefit of all.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts on Azim Premji’s Legacy

One man’s vision and generosity advanced education and society.

Azim Premji had pledged a significant portion of his wealth to unlock human potential, for underprivileged communities.

Apart from transforming the family business into global technology giant Wipro Limited, he founded the Azim Premji Foundation and University to transform lives through education.

Needless to say, this helped enhance quality for hundreds of thousands of teachers and schools, especially in underprivileged communities.

In conclusion, Azim Premji is an enduring legacy that inspires possibility.

His story reminds us of how one person’s commitment to contributing to society can have a significant impact on countless individuals.

FAQs

How rich is Azim Premji?

As of 2023, Azim Premji’s net worth is estimated to be around $9 billion.

What is Azim Premji famous for?

Azim Premji is famous for founding Wipro Limited, a multinational IT services and consulting company based in India, and for his philanthropic efforts through the Azim Premji Foundation and University.

Which Indian business icon left Stanford university?

Azim Premji, the founder of Wipro Limited, left Stanford University to return to India after his father’s sudden death and take over the family business.

Who is the biggest donor in India?

Azim Premji is one of the biggest donors in India, having donated a significant portion of his wealth to philanthropic causes, particularly in the education sector.

Who is the 3 richest person in India?

As of 2023, the third richest person in India is Shiv Nadal, Chairman of HCL Technologies.

(Feature image source The logical Indian)

Tariq
Tariqhttps://tariqsp.com
An entrepreneur based in Bangalore with a passion for blogging, real estate, and digital marketing. Connect with me on Instagram @imtariqsp.
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