Business strategy

From Rs 2 per Week to Billion Dollar Company, Journey of IT Behemoth

Wipro founder Azim Premji‘s grand father built one of the largest rice trading businesses that evolved into a diverse, multi billion-dollar enterprise 75 years later, by starting out with Rs 2 per week. “But (it was) on one simple principle – he was honest,” Premji said in the coffee table book, The Story of Wipro.

Wipro, one of the largest IT companies in India, recently celebrated 75th anniversary.  Premji, launched the coffee table book titled as The Story of Wipro. The Story of Wipro, published by Westland Publications, encapsulates the tremendous journey of Wipro which pivoted to multiple businesses over the years. IT major’s journey from vegetable oil manufacturing company to a diversified business. Azim Premji, took to Twitter said, The Story of Wipro is also the story of Azim Premji since he was at the helm for 53 of the 75 years.

“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,” Premji said in an interview.

Premji, talking about his family and parents said that his family adhered to one principle of not compromising with values. Speaking about his father Mohammed Hussain Hasham Premji, who took over the trading company when he was just 21. Premji’s mother Gulbanoo Premji, was also not averse to challenges either, who fought to build a children’s hospital.

Mohamedhusain Hashem Premji, father of Azim Premji started Western India Products Ltd at Amalner in Maharashtra on December 29, 1945, for manufacturing vegetable and refined oils. Following the death of his father in 1966, Premji dropped out of Stanford University and took over the company’s reins. Similar to his father, Azim Premji was at the helm of the company at the age of 21.

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

The success of the IT giant can be gauged from the fact that in 2000, Wipro reached the milestone of $1 billion revenue and got listed in the New York stock exchanges. The company’s revenue in FY21 was $8.1 billion.

After leading the firm for almost 53 years, Premji stepped down from his role as executive chairman of Wipro on July 31, 2019, His elder son Rishad Premji, who was the then chief strategy officer at Wipro, took over as the executive chairman. Following his resignation, the company appointed Thierry Delaporte, who took over as the CEO in July 2020, after the exit of Abidali Neemuchwala early in 2020.

In addition to the straight and simple lifestyle, frugality, Premji is a man with a golden heart, he is well known for his compassion and philanthropy.

According to EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020, Premji has donated Rs 7,904 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.

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