Kalpana Saroj: Enact Babasaheb's moral to be the Original Slumdog Millionaire
In the contemporary world, women entrepreneurs have been up on the rise. They are coming to the forefront, sharing their journey from scratch to making multi-million dollar businesses and helping their society, simultaneously. Indeed, it sounds perfect and defines the meaning of equality.
As it is said, Rome was not built in a day. So does the development of women in the business world. Well, the story of Padmashree awardee Dr Kalpana Saroj, CEO of Kamani Tubes, is one of country's most influential and inspiring entrepreneurial success stories today. Her unshakable courage and stubborn heart made her dreams into a reality and paved the path for many women.
Rags to Riches: Journey of a child-bride
Born in Roperkheda Village in Maharashtra, Kalpana Saroj belonged to a Dalit family. Being the eldest, Saroj had two younger brothers and belonged to a very orthodox family tied with societal pressure and limited exposure. She got married at the age of just 12 years and was living with her husband in the slums of Mumbai. However, she was constantly going through physical abuse by her husband and her in-laws.
As it is said that we have two lives, the second starts when we realize that we have only one life. Saroj has lived the statement. With her father's help, she could get out of the living hell. After being rescued from her in-laws' cruelty, she tried to resume her studies. Though, she faced a lot of criticism and cruel comments from the villagers for abandoning her marriage. The antagonism made her attempt suicide by drinking poison. Fortunately, she survived and woke up as a woman who would cross any hurdles. She realized the importance of life and decided to turn her life around.
At 16, Saroj decided to go to Mumbai with her uncle and found a job in a garment factory. She took a loan from the government and began her tailoring business and, ultimately, a furniture store of her own. Her journey presented a new turn when she started KS Film Production and launched her first movie, Khaialnji. The movie was dubbed in three different languages Hindi, English, and Telugu.
The Original Slumdog Millionaire
After going through so many ups and downs and possessing entrepreneurial skills at a very young age, Saroj could ensure her path to success. She built quite a successful real estate business and was known for her skills and contacts in entrepreneurship. She was in Kamani Tubes when the company went into liquidation in 2001, and she took over the company becoming the Chief Executive Officer. She positively restructured the firm and bought it back to profit.
In 2013, Kalpana Saroj was awarded the Padma Shri for Trade and Industry for her remarkable work with Kamani Tubes and others. She is often represented as the original Slumdog Millionaire who has climbed her way to the top with sweat and hard work.
The Government of India later designated her to the Board of Directors for Bharati Mahila Bank, a bank specifically catering to women. She also serves on the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, a highly reputed management institute in India. She has also conducted a few successful TED talks interpreting her life and business ventures, as well as her journey in the entrepreneurial world. Today, Kalpana Saroj’s company is nearly worth $112 million.
Expandation of Entrepreneurial Umbrella
Kalpana Saroj is genuinely a person of substance in all senses. Under her leadership, Kamani Tubes Limited, Kamani Steel Re-Rolling Mills, Saikrupa Sugar Factory, Kalpana Builders & Developers, Kalpana Saroj & Associates, and KS Creations Film Production have thrived to mega success. The fact that she has more than six successful companies with a net worth of over 1000 crores under her name are testament to her life, struggle, and success. She finds her inspiration in Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the key architect of the Indian constitution and a Dalit social reformer. It is like the coming of a full circle for a girl from an underprivileged small-town family to topping lists and making limelight on the most prestigious national and global stages.
Kalpana Saroj is armed with a lifetime of experience and an admirable journey. Her journey proves that to be a successful entrepreneur does not necessarily need significant degrees, just big dreams and the determination to achieve them. Working on her exceptional principles of honesty above proficiency, strength in adversity, and action rather than oration, Saroj has made an indelible mark in Indian society and the business world for generations to take inspiration from.
Ramjibhai Kamani started Kamani industries with a vision for what the newly minted nation of India would look like. Kalpana Saroj has taken that vision and values of justice, fair play, and equality to a new high, inspiring everyone who aims to succeed in life despite an underprovided background and societal baggage of discrimination. She is a Buddhist and follows the principles of Dr B. R. Ambedkar. She had a son and a daughter with Samir Saroj, who died in 1989 and inherited the Steel Manufacturing business herself. Presently, she is married to Shubhkaran.
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