“This is a real life story of a girl who stood up against all odds and became a successful entrepreneur.”
She was called dirty, ugly, little packet of poison, offspring of a donkey. However, these days she is called something else – a millionaire. You could call her India’s real life slumdog millionaire.
Born into a low-caste Dalit family, Kalpana Saroj was pulled out of school and married off at the age of 12 to a 22-year-old man. Child bride Saroj was ceremoniously taken to her husband’s home in one of Mumbai’s myriad slums. Trapped, tormented and tortured by her husband and his family. Her husband used to drink at night and beat her up.
Her father’s heart melted on seeing the tortures her daughter was going through. So, he brought her back to their own village. But the society people started treating her as a taboo. They said that she did not lead the life of a disciplined Indian wife. The society basically ostracized her. All these taunts had made a deep impact on her. She went into depression. She finally decided to commit suicide by consuming rat poison. But, god had a different destiny for her and she was fortunately saved.
Realizing that education was the key, at first she decided to remedy her lack of education by getting back to studies which she had left half way in a bid to get a job. However, things didn’t work out. She then moved back to Mumbai with the intention of getting a job but failed to make any headway.
Kalpana started working for a garment factory but she wanted more. Using loans given by the Indian government to the untouchables, she was able to start a successful tailoring business.
“I have seen poverty. I have risen out of it myself. So I was confident I could improve their lot”– Kalpana Saroj
Finally, at 22, she left Ruparkheda for Mumbai. She married again, but in 1989, her husband died. All that she inherited was an ailing steel-cupboard manufacture business. By sheer dint of effort, the mother-of-two revived the sick firm. One thing led to another. Saroj dabbled with politics, started a construction company, made profits, bought sugar and steel mills and determined her own path to prosperity.
Her biggest challenge came in March 2006 when her firm, ‘Kalpana Saroj and Associates’ took over the ailing Kamani Tubes, a brand leader in non-ferrous tubes and turned it around to a profitable enterprise. Gradually, the company has limped back to normalcy with a better production and distribution network. Now, Kamani Tubes is a growing business, worth more than USD 100 million.
“I always believe in doing the best I can and doing it for others. That is why I knew I could turn defeats into victories.” – Kalpana Saroj
At present, Kalpana Saroj has a Corporate Empire of Rs. 500 Crores. And, she was awarded with the prestigious Padma Shree for Trade and Industry in the year 2013.
She was not An MBA , not even a Graduate , but heads her own company and employees Graduates and MBA’s.
Apart from her keen interest in business, Kalpana has helped thousands of students by sponsoring libraries, hostels and financial help all by herself. She actively take initiatives for the betterment of the poor, Adivasis, aged people and works against racism and caste discrimination.
Kalpana Saroj is an idol of Determination, Perseverance, Hard-work, Courage, Empathy and Compassion.
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