Guest AuthorNeha Bagaria

Kalpana Saroj, the First Indian Woman Entrepreneur

By | Sandhya |

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, so goes the saying. Nothing could explain better the journey of Kalpana Saroj, India’s first self-made female entrepreneur. 

Referred to as the original Slumdog Millionaire, her rise from the slums of Mumbai to being the CEO of Kamani Tubes with a personal asset worth $112 million, is the stuff that Bollywood movies are made of. 

Born in a remote village in Maharashtra to a Dalit famiyl in 1961, she was the eldest of the children. Married at the age of 12 and moving to a new place in the shanties of Thane, she suffered physical abuse at the hands of her husband’s family. Her ordeal was compounded even after being rescued by her father for she was taunted by her community in her village. At one point she even attempted suicide and saved in the nick of time! 

This incident strengthened her resolve and decided to take matters into her hand. She went to Mumbai and joined a garment’s factory. Soon enough she made a small nest fund and borrowed loan from the government to start a boutique business in 1984.

Eventually she ventured into furnishing business which led her to foray into real estate sector. She found her calling here and came to be known for her contacts and entrepreneurial skills. She also became adept at negotiating skills and became the go to person for resolving conflicts. 

Her moment of glory came when words about her reached the workers union of Kamani Tubes, a  company manufacturing and supplying copper tubes, rods and LED lights.  The company had suffered many losses and litigations over the years. The court had ordered the workers to take over and run the company. However, they were unable to revive the company and sought Kalpana’s help to bring around the business. 

Kalpana took it as a challenge and with a 10 member team, successfully negotiated with the banks to grant her new loans and waive off the older ones. And as they say, the rest is history! She not only revived the company but made a profit of 3 crores, a huge sum for an enterprise that was shut down. 

There has been no looking back ever since as she entered into other businesses one by one and the current combined annual turnover of her businesses is said to around Rs 2,000 crore. 

For a woman who had everything going against her- a dalit, early mariirage, school drop out, physical abuse, her turnaround in an inspiration to millions of women. She credits her father for rescuing and building confidence in her. 

Breaking the shackles of societal norms, she proved that dreams can only become reality when you put in your hard work and dedication and above all the will to succeed. 

Time for you to resolve. Time start and arise to realise your dreams.

Do you know any such women who can be featured here? Tag a women who deserves to be recognized and featured!

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Republished with permission and originally published at

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