Azim Hashim Premji (born 24 July 1945) is an Indian business tycoon, investor, and philanthropist, who is the chairman of Wipro Limited. He is informally known as the Czar of the Indian IT Industry.[6][7] He was responsible for guiding Wipro through four decades of diversification and growth to finally emerge as one of the global leaders in the software industry.[8][9] In 2010, he was voted among the 20 most powerful men in the world by Asiaweek. He has twice been listed among the 100 most influential people by TIME Magazine, once in 2004 and more recently in 2011.[10] Premji owns 73% percent of Wipro and also owns a private equity fund, Premji Invest, which manages his $2 billion worth of personal portfolio.

He is currently the second richest person in India with an estimated net worth of US$19.5 billion as of November 2017. In 2013, he agreed to give away at least half of his wealth by signing The Giving Pledge. Premji started with a $2.2 billion donation to the Azim Premji Foundation, focused on education in India.[11]


In 1945, Muhammed Hashim Premji incorporated Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd, based at Amalner, a small town in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. It used to manufacture cooking oil under the brand name Sunflower Vanaspati, and a laundry soap called 787, a byproduct of oil manufacture.[12] In 1966, on the news of his father's death, the then 21-year-old Azim Premji returned home from Stanford University, where he was studying engineering, to take charge of Wipro. The company, which was called Western Indian Vegetable Products at the time, dealt in hydrogenated oil manufacturing but Azim Premji later diversified the company to bakery fats, ethnic ingredient based toiletries, hair care soaps, baby toiletries, lighting products, and hydraulic cylinders. In the 1980s, the young entrepreneur, recognising the importance of the emerging IT field, took advantage of the vacuum left behind by the expulsion of IBM from India, changed the company name to Wipro and entered the high-technology sector by manufacturing minicomputers under technological collaboration with an American company Sentinel[13] Computer Corporation.[14] Thereafter Premji made a focused shift from soaps to software.[15]

Personal life

Premji was born in Bombay,[1][16] India in a Nizari Ismaili Shia Muslim[5] family with origins from Kutch in Gujarat.[17] His father was a noted businessman and was known as Rice King of Burma. After partition, when Jinnah invited his father Muhammed Hashem Premji to come to Pakistan, he turned down the request and chose to remain in India.[18]

Premji has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree (equivalent to a Bachelor of Engineering degree) from Stanford University, USA. He is married to Yasmeen. The couple have two children, Rishad and Tariq. Rishad is currently the Chief Strategy Officer of IT Business, Wipro.[19]


Premji has been recognised by Business Week as one of the Greatest Entrepreneurs[20] for being responsible for Wipro emerging as one of the world's fastest growing companies.

In 2000, he was conferred an honorary doctorate by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. In 2006, Azim Premji was awarded Lakshya Business Visionary by National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai.[21] In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut for his outstanding philanthropic work.[22] In 2015, Mysore University conferred an honorary doctorate on him.[23]

In 2005, the Government of India honoured him with the title of Padma Bhushan for his outstanding work in trade and commerce.[24]

In 2011, he has been awarded Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award by the Government of India.[25]

In 2013, he received the ET Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2015, University of Mysore conferred the honorary doctorate to Azim Premji. Listen to the citation read out at the 95th convocation held on 17 April 2015 : Dr.Azim Premji-University of Mysore convocation-2015 on YouTube

In April 2017, India Today magazine ranked him 9th in India's 50 Most powerful people of 2017 list.[26]


Azim Premji Foundation And University

In 2001, he founded Azim Premji Foundation,[27] a non-profit organisation, with a vision to significantly contribute to achieving quality universal education that facilitates a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society. The works in the area of elementary education to pilot and develop 'proofs of concept' that have a potential for systemic change in India's 1.3 million government-run schools. A specific focus is on working in rural areas where the majority of these schools exist. This choice to work with elementary education (Class I to VIII) in rural government-run is a response to evidence of educational attainment in India.

The non-profit organisation set up by Premji in 2001 currently functions across Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, in close partnership with various state governments. The foundation has worked largely in rural areas, to help contribute to the improvement of quality and equity of school education.

In December 2010, he pledged to donate US$2 billion for improving school education in India. This has been done by transferring 213 million equity shares of Wipro Ltd, held by a few entities controlled by him, to the Azim Premji Trust. This donation is the largest of its kind in India.

The Azim Premji University was established under an Act of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly to run programmes to develop education and development professionals, offer alternative models for educational change and also invest in educational research to continuously stretch the boundaries of educational thinking.

The Giving Pledge

Premji has said that being rich "did not thrill" him.[28] He became the first Indian to sign up for The Giving Pledge, a campaign led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, to encourage the wealthiest people to make a commitment to give most of their wealth to philanthropic causes. He is the third non-American after Richard Branson and David Sainsbury to join this philanthropy club.[29]

"I strongly believe that those of us, who are privileged to have wealth, should contribute significantly to try and create a better world for the millions who are far less privileged"--- Azim Premji (AP)

In April 2013 he said that he has already given more than 25 per cent of his personal wealth to charity.[30]

In July 2015, he gave away an additional 18% of his stake in Wipro, taking his total contribution so far to 39%.[31][32]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Azim Premji". Britannica. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "The World's Billionaires No. 83 Azim Premji". Forbes. 3 November 2009. Archived from the original on 29 November 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  3. ^ "Azim Premji - Forbes". Forbes. 
  4. ^ "What you didn't know about Rishad Premji". Rediff. 7 June 2007. Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c "Gujaratis the shining feather in market cap". Times of India. 19 October 2006. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Bhupathi Reddy (30 August 2015). "Top 10 Entrepreneurs of India". EntrepreneurSolutions.com. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Srikar Muthyala (29 September 2015). "The List of Great Entrepreneurs of India in 2015". MyBTechLife. Archived from the original on 14 January 2016. 
  8. ^ Azim Premji Profile Forbes.com. Retrieved September 2010.
  9. ^ "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. 3 March 2009. Archived from the original on 16 March 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2009. 
  10. ^ Gates, Bill. (21 April 2011) Azim Premji – The 2011 TIME 100. TIME. Retrieved on 12 November 2011.
  11. ^ Karmali, Naazneen. "Azim Premji Donates $2.3 Billion After Signing Giving Pledge". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-04-22. 
  12. ^ Western Indian Products Ltd incorporated in 1945. Churumuri.wordpress.com (2009-07-20). Retrieved on 2015-11-21.
  13. ^ Home Page - Sentinel Technologies, Inc. Sentinel.com. Retrieved on 2015-11-21.
  14. ^ Chakravarty, 1998:2
  15. ^ Azim Premji Profile – Biography of Azim Premji – Information on Azeem Premji Wipro Technologies. Iloveindia.com (24 July 1945). Retrieved on 12 November 2011.
  16. ^ "Azim Premji". Worldofceos.com. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  17. ^ "Villager becomes a tycoon: Why everyone's talking about Yasmeen Premji's debut novel". The India Express. 29 July 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "Billionaire Profile: Azim Premji by Mandovi Menon". MENSXP.COM. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  19. ^ "Rishad Premji is Wipro's new CSO". The Hindu. 2 September 2010. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  20. ^ Wipro Ltd chief features in Business Week's "30 Greatest Entrepreneurs of all Time" list Archived 5 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Azim Premji awarded by E. Financialexpress.com (22 October 2006). Retrieved on 12 November 2011.
  22. ^ Roth on Wesleyan » Blog Archive » Studying Abroad. Roth.blogs.wesleyan.edu (8 January 2010). Retrieved on 12 November 2011.
  23. ^ "Mysore varsity doctorate for Premji, Bhyrappa, Nagathihalli Chandrashekar". 
  24. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  25. ^ "Padma Awards Announced" (Press release). Ministry of Home Affairs. 25 January 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  26. ^ "India's 50 powerful people". India Today. April 14, 2017. 
  27. ^ Azim Premji Foundation. Azim Premji Foundation. Retrieved on 28 July 2013.
  28. ^ "Clipping of Indian Express - Chandigarh". Retrieved 2016-06-29. 
  29. ^ "Azim Premji donates half of his wealth". 20 February 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  30. ^ "I have given 25% of my wealth to charity, Wipro chairman Azim Premji says". The Times of India. PTI. 19 April 2013. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  31. ^ "Azim Premji gives half of his stake in Wipro for charity". The Hindu. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015. 
  32. ^ "Wipro's Azim Premji gives 18% of his stake in company for charity". Hindustan Times. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015. 

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