Azim Premji

Azim Premji

Azim Premji is Chairman of Wipro Limited and one of the richest men in the world with an estimated net worth of over $11 billion. 

Premji is also a well-known philanthropist and was the first Indian to commit to the Giving Pledge, a campaign in which the world’s wealthiest people pledge to give away most of their wealth to charitable causes.

About Azim Premji

Azim Premji is an Indian business entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Chairman of Wipro, one of India’s largest IT and consulting companies. Premji led Wipro for approximately four decades and has been hailed for his foresight in changing the company’s product offerings from cooking oil to computer hardware and software, catapulting it to worldwide success.

Early Years

Born in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1945, Azim Premji entered the world in the same year his father, Muhammed Hashim Premji, founded Western India Vegetable Products Ltd. This enterprise specialized in selling hydrogenated cooking oil (vanaspati). When his father passed unexpectedly in 1966, Premji returned from the U.S., where he had been studying at Stanford University, and took over his father’s business. 

In 1977, Premji renamed the company to Wipro, signifying a change in brand and products. When IBM was asked to leave India in 1979, Premji recognized an opportunity and began manufacturing high-quality hardware and software for export. In the late 1990s, technology stocks surged, turning Premji into one of the richest men in the world and Wipro expanded to over 60 countries. 

Premji completed his degree from Stanford University in 1999, via a long-distance learning agreement.  

Notable Investments

In August 2021, Premji Invest, the family office of Wipro’s chairman emeritus Azim Premji, invested $25 million in SB Packagings Pvt. Ltd., acquiring a significant stake in the company that supplies packing material to Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Walmart, and more.

Philanthropy

Despite his incredible wealth, Premji has always maintained a modest demeanor, avoiding five-star hotels, traveling economy, and wearing Indian-made clothes. He prefers to talk business than money. 

In 2001, Premji established the Azim Premji Foundation, a non-profit that aims to improve elementary education opportunities for children in rural regions throughout India, which has been providing aid for over 16,000 schools. The foundation’s initiatives have also extended to broader social developmental areas (not just education) – rural development, disaster relief, public health, and more. 

In 2013, he donated Wipro company shares (12%)  worth $2.3 billion to the Azim Premji Foundation. That same year, he signed the Giving Pledge, established by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, a campaign in which the wealthiest people in the world commit to donating most of their wealth to charitable causes. 

In 2019, he donated an additional $7.5 billion to the Azim Premji Foundation – totalling the foundation’s endowment to $21 billion, making it one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the world. 

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