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Inspiring Story Of Kalpana Saroj - CEO of Kamani Tubes

The Remarkable Journey of Kalpana Saroj, India's First Female Corporate Entrepreneur
Inspiring Story Of Kalpana Saroj - CEO of Kamani Tubes

In today's society, there are numerous accomplished female entrepreneurs, and Kalpana Saroj, the first female entrepreneur in India, had to overcome various societal biases, just like other influential women. Despite facing multiple challenges in her life, including discrimination due to her Dalit background, Kalpana Saroj demonstrated unwavering bravery and determination. Her perseverance enabled her to not only achieve her aspirations but also create opportunities for other women.


Life as a Dalit Girl Child

Kalpana Saroj, hailing from a Dalit family in Roperkheda village, Maharashtra, experienced the challenges faced by those from lower castes in obtaining basic education and independence. During that era, child marriage was a common practice, and girls were considered a burden on their families, leading to their early marriages. Despite this societal discrimination, Kalpana's father, a police constable, was determined to provide her with a good education, and hence he sent her to the local village school. Despite excelling academically, Kalpana faced discrimination and exclusion from her peers due to her lower caste status. She was not allowed to participate in school functions and other children's parents scolded them for playing with her. Even her maternal uncle referred to her as a "little pocket of poison." One can only imagine what must have been going through her mind during these difficult times.

Kalpana Saroj was married off at 12  

Due to societal and familial expectations, the girl's father arranged her marriage at the age of 12, and she subsequently relocated to a slum in Mumbai to reside with her husband and in-laws. During her stay, she endured mistreatment, starvation, and physical abuse, while being treated as a servant.

When her father visited her six months later, he was confronted with a shell of his former daughter. He made the decision to rescue her and take her back home.

The girl expressed that her marriage felt like a form of death to her. However, with the aid of her father, she was able to break free from her torment and begin anew.


The ending turned into the start of a new journey for Kalpana Saroj

When she returned home, she faced harsh criticism and hurtful comments from the people in her village for leaving her marriage and attempting to resume her studies.

The hostility from her community made it impossible for her to pursue her independence, leading her to drink poison in an attempted suicide. Though she spent a full day in the hospital, she emerged not as a helpless outcast, but as a resilient woman determined to overcome any obstacles in pursuit of her dreams.

This experience taught her the value of life and gave her a second chance to make something of herself. She decided to make a big impact and convinced her parents to let her move to Mumbai to seek job opportunities at her uncle's residence. Through her unwavering determination, she was prepared to completely turn her life around.


Rise of one of the most powerful women entrepreneur in India 

At a mere 2 rupees per hour, she commenced her employment at a garment factory where she honed her skills in handling sewing machines. With her father unemployed and her becoming the sole provider for her family, she came to recognize the value of money. Her aspirations were not satisfied by her mundane job, and she sought to accomplish something grander. She resolved to launch her own enterprise, propelling her to become one of the most influential female businesspersons in India.

After encountering a government initiative that extended loans to women belonging to lower castes, she acquired one in 1984. With the funds, she procured sewing machines and toiled for 16 hours each day. However, this did not suffice for her ambitions, and she invested her profits in a furniture business.

Her journey took a new turn when she founded KS Film Production and unveiled her maiden movie, which was subsequently dubbed in three languages- English, Telugu, and Hindi.

How did Kamani Tubes happen?

When her fame grew in 2001, the worker's union of Kamani Tubes approached her in the hopes of rescuing their failing company, which had not paid its workers for the previous three years and was sinking into debt. Initially, she was hesitant to take on this new venture, and even her advisors considered it a suicide mission. However, due to her empathy for the 3500 workers and their predicament, she decided to take up the challenge. After a considerable amount of hard work, she managed to revive the ailing Kamani Tubes Company and guide it back to profitability.

Deemed worthless ‘Dalit Child Bride’ to being worth millions

With personal assets worth $112 million, Kalpana Saroj currently holds the position of CEO at Kamani Tubes. She has been recognized for her hard work and contributions in the field of trade and industry, having received the Padma Shri award in 2013 and the Ninth Rajiv Gandhi award for Women Entrepreneurs in 2006. In addition, Kalpana Saroj is actively involved in various social welfare initiatives and has established the Kalpana Saroj foundation.

Despite facing numerous challenges and obstacles, including societal labels such as Dalit, school drop-out, child-bride, slum dweller, and suicide survivor, Kalpana Saroj has emerged as India's first female corporate entrepreneur and has earned the nickname 'original slumdog millionaire'. Her achievements serve as a testament to the power of hard work and dedication, making her a role model for countless young women who aspire to follow in her footsteps.