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Wipro founder Azim Premji’s grandfather started with Rs 2 per week as businessman

Philanthropist Azim Premji recalls the simple principle at the heart of the enterprise started by his grandfather 75 years ago -- being honest and never compromising.

September 21, 2021 / 04:36 PM IST
Azim Premji, Founder of Wipro

Azim Premji, Founder of Wipro

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Wipro founder Azim Premji grandfather built one of the largest rice trading businesses that evolved into a diverse, multibillion-dollar enterprise 75 years later, by starting out with Rs 2 per week.
“But (it was) on one simple principle – he was honest,” says Premji, founder chairman, Wipro, in a video, celebrating 75 years of Wipro, along with the launch of the coffee table book, The Story of Wipro.

The Story of Wipro, published by Westland Publications, traces the 75-year journey of the IT major from vegetable oil manufacturing to diversified business. Rishad Premji, Chairman, in a tweet, said that The Story of Wipro is also the story of Azim Premji since he was at the helm for 53 of the 75 years.
Uncompromising with values, Premji said that later his father, Mohammed Hussain Hasham Premji, continued his grandfather's legacy when he took over the trading company when he was just 21. Premji’s mother, Gulbanoo Premji, was not averse to challenges either, who fought to build a children’s hospital.

“I learnt from my mother probably the most. Because she was a qualified doctor, she devoted her time to building a children's orthopedic hospital for crippled children. She would run to Delhi to fund it and we were not wealthy at the point of time. She would fight with the government and fight with rich industrialists to give her donations,” he shared in the interview.

“The concept of standing for something and being consistent and not compromising on something got inculcated very early in me,” Premji said.

On December 29, 1945, Azim’s father Mohamedhusain Hashem Premji, started Western India Products Ltd at Amalner in Maharashtra for manufacturing vegetable and refined oils. After his father's death in 1966, Premji dropped out of Stanford University and took over the company’s reins. Like his father, Premji was only 21 when he took over.

Unlike his father and grandfather, under Premji the business diversified from a grain and vegetable oil company to an enterprise. It started with the foray into infotech in 1979 and later into other divisions such as consumer care and lighting, infrastructure engineering firms and GE Healthcare.

In 2000, Wipro reached the milestone of $1 billion revenue and was listed in the New York stock exchanges. The company’s revenue in FY21 was $8.1 billion.


Premji stepped down from his role as executive chairman of Wipro on July 31, 2019, after leading the firm for 53 years to devote more time to philanthropy. His elder son Rishad Premji, who was the then chief strategy officer at Wipro, took over as the executive chairman.

The company appointed Thierry Delaporte, who took over as the CEO in July 2020, after the exit of Abidali Neemuchwala early in 2020.

As much as he is known for his frugality, he is known for his compassion and philanthropy.  According to EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020, Premji has donated Rs 7904 crore, only followed by HCL co-founder Shiv Nadar who has donated Rs 795 crore.

Currently Premji's network is about $39.2 billion and  has donated significant part of his wealth.

Azim Premji Endowment Fund owns 13.6 percent of the promoter holding in Wipro and has the right to receive money earned from promoter shares, the report said. Azim Premji Endowment Fund is an entity set up by Premji to carry out his philanthropic activities.

Atul Nishar, founder, Hexaware Technologies, said in an interaction with Moneycontrol that Premji is huge inspiration for the way he built Wipro into a mega corporation. “Major part of the wealth is being donated. There is heart and compassion for others. I think in business it is important to create value for everyone. At the same time there should be an approach of kindness, compassion.”
Swathi Moorthy
first published: Sep 21, 2021 03:45 pm

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