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First Woman Entrepreneur of India – Kalpana Saroj

by Bani Banerjee
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First Female Entrepreneur of India Kalpana Saroj | Womopreneur

“A woman should prioritize her marriage over any desire of working out.” “Women should stay indoors and take care of their families.”  “For women, their households should be their only work and worship.”

Earlier, we may have come across several similar bigotry comments and predispositions about women of the country. There are many notions such as – women should not to go out to work and that the income of the male heads of the family is enough. This fallacy has been a part of society for a very long time. This until some courteous pal among the humongous population thought otherwise. 

With the proliferation of literacy rate amongst women from 29.76% to around 80.46%, we did witness positive growth. Although, the overall data of women’s literacy has shown a significant rise, the same data, when compared to literacy of men, displays a clear picture of females being the submissive literate gender. As per the UNESCO Institute of Statistics Global Database, globally the rate of literacy has increased to 92%, the bifurcation of data shows a higher literate rate amongst men than women. 

Discussing the crucial element of education, we now need to focus position of women in the business fields and workplace. Even after a long journey full of crusades and sacrifices, one can behold the need for a yet long excursion towards the parity of women and men at workplaces. 19th century or 21st, the data reveals a similar situation where gender parity seems a distant target. The discrimination against women in the workplace has not yet rescinded. Rather, there’s a long way to go, hand in hand. 

Kalpana Saroj and Her Contributions

India as a nation has witnessed a paradigm shift in the business environment over the past few decades due to an extensive inclusion of women in the workforce. Studies show that the GDP can increase by 60% by 2025 if women indulge in the formal labor force of the country.

The leadership roles of women have fiercely boosted in the past few years. The significant increase from 3.2% in 2014 to 5.8% in 2019 of women in the executive roles is evident that women are out there in the battlefield and are ready to conquer the business world with their determination and hard work. Also, there has been an increase in the percentage of women in the board directors to 13.8%. While talking about great changes in the entrepreneurship data, it is also crucial to talk about the substantial success of the first female entrepreneur of India- Kalpana Saroj.

With pride known as the “slumdog millionaire”, Kalpana strived to be the first woman to step into the entrepreneur’s world. She became an inspiration for abundant other potential women entrepreneurs by heroically steering up the broken assets of a distressed company- Kamani Tubes Ltd. to elevated profits with her diligent and consistent hard work. She is a cynosure for various girls and women seeking success in the business world. 

Early Life and Initial Steps 

Born in 1961, in a village of Maharashtra, Kalpana is the daughter of a police constable and a house maker. She tied the knot at the age of 12 and lived in a Mumbai slum with her husband’s family. The life after marriage was not all easy and delightful for her though. She was physically abused and then rescued by her father. Aftermath of which led her to live with her uncle and work in a garment factory. She kept struggling through the societal bigoted schemas and distressing beliefs. Later, she fought the odds and using government loans, managed to build a small tailoring business. Afterwards, she also started a furniture store of her own. She endured learning the basics of entrepreneurship and became the face of women’s motivation in the country. 

With the help of government schemes, Kalpana jumped at the greatest opportunity of all time that manifested in front of her – Acquisition of Kamani Tubes Ltd. Though, an opportunity for her, it was a useless property for the proprietor of litigation (Navinbhai Kamani). And, that’s how she stepped into the business of real estate and oversaw the transformation of her dreams into reality. 

Read Here: Listen Up! Here’s What Successful Women Entrepreneurs Have to Say

Challenges Faced by Kalpana Saroj

Kalpana’s consistent hard work and nursing of a dissolving company was the reason of her success. She was appointed the chairman of Kamani Tubes Ltd. in 2006. As smooth as it might seem while reading the story, the struggle and hard work were incredibly arduous for the lady. 

“It has been like walking on the edge of a mountain.” – Kalpana Saroj.

The obstacles in the life of Kalpana ranged from early child marriage to stigma in the society regarding the girl bringing shame because of her return to her parent’s home from an abusive marriage. These stigmas are so devastating that even the woman who is now rubbing shoulders with industry and government leaders endeavored to gulp down a bottle of poison at a point in her life. 

Great Accomplishments of Kalpana Saroj

Hard work always pays off, Kalpana Saroj’s determination and hard work grandiosely paid off for her. 

  • Kalpana Saroj was honored with the Padma Shri Award for Trade and Industry in the year 2013.
  • She was elected as the board of director of Bhartiya Mahila Bank.
  • Kalpana Saroj is also positioned at the board of governors at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
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In Conclusion

” Ivy league and fancy MBA’s are not what makes an entrepreneur. Grit, perseverance and a superhuman ability to believe in yourself does.”- Kalpana Saroj

The story discussed above should not go in vain. Women can conquer the entrepreneurship world if they believe in themselves. Despite all the discriminatory and bigotry beliefs in the society, women have the power to break all the chains of that bind them.

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