Azim Premji

The Visionary Businessman and Philanthropist
Azim Premji

Azim Premji

The Visionary Businessman and Philanthropist

Azim Hashim Premji, a name synonymous with visionary leadership, profound generosity, and a commitment to social change, has left an indelible mark on both the corporate and philanthropic landscapes of India. Let's delve into the life, accomplishments, and philanthropic endeavours of this remarkable individual.

Early Life and Education

Azim Premji was born on 24th July 1945 in Bombay, India, into a Kutchi Indian Muslim Shia Islam family with roots in Gujarat. His father, Muhammed Hashim Premji, was a renowned businessman known as the "Rice King of Burma." Interestingly, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, invited Azim's father to Pakistan, but he chose to remain in India.

Azim Premji pursued his higher education abroad, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. His academic journey laid the foundation for his future endeavours in both business and philanthropy.

The Transformation of Wipro

In 1945, Muhammed Hashim Premji incorporated Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd, a company that initially focused on manufacturing cooking oil and laundry soap.

However, in 1966, upon the sudden demise of his father, Azim Premji, then a 21-year-old student at Stanford University, returned to India to take charge of Wipro.

Under Azim Premji's leadership, Wipro underwent a transformation from a company primarily involved in manufacturing hydrogenated oil to a diversified conglomerate.

It expanded into bakery fats, toiletries, hair care products, lighting products, and hydraulic cylinders and eventually entered the high-technology sector by manufacturing minicomputers.

Recognising the potential of the emerging IT field, Premji seized the opportunity, and Wipro ventured into software services, a decision that would shape the future of the company.

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Recognition and Honors

Azim Premji's contributions to the business world have not gone unnoticed. Business Week recognised him as one of the "Greatest Entrepreneurs" for his role in making Wipro one of the world's fastest-growing companies.

He received numerous honorary doctorates, including one from the Manipal Academy of Higher Education and Wesleyan University, recognising his philanthropic work.

In 2005, the Indian Government conferred upon him the prestigious Padma Bhushan for his outstanding contributions to trade and commerce. In 2011, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian honour.

The Czar of Indian IT

Azim Premji's most significant achievement is his role in guiding Wipro through four decades of diversification and growth, making it one of the global leaders in the software industry. His impact on the Indian IT sector earned him the informal title of the "Czar of the Indian IT Industry."

He was not just a successful businessman; he was also a thought leader and an inspiration to many aspiring entrepreneurs in India and beyond.

Philanthropy: Giving Back to Society

Azim Premji's philanthropic journey is as remarkable as his business career. In 2001, he founded the Azim Premji Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving school education in India.

In 2010, Premji made a historic commitment by pledging to donate at least half of his wealth to philanthropic causes. He began with a $2.2 billion donation to the Azim Premji Foundation, focusing on education.

In 2019, he further increased his philanthropic efforts by pledging an additional 34% of Wipro stock to the foundation, bringing the total endowment to an impressive $21 billion.

Azim Premji became the first Indian to sign the Giving Pledge, a global campaign led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, encouraging billionaires to commit a significant portion of their wealth to philanthropy. His commitment to giving back to society has set a precedent for other Indian philanthropists.

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EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List

In recognition of his extraordinary philanthropic contributions, Azim Premji consistently tops the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List. His donations, primarily directed towards education, have made a profound impact on the lives of countless children in India.

The Premji Family Legacy

Azim Premji's commitment to philanthropy runs in the family. His wife, Yasmeen Premji, is an integral part of the family's philanthropic initiatives, contributing to their shared vision of creating a better world.

Azim and Yasmeen Premji have two children, Rishad and Tariq. Rishad Premji, the son of Azim Premji, followed in his father's footsteps and took over as the Chairman of Wipro in July 2019.

He is a business executive and former Chief Strategy Officer at Wipro. Rishad's commitment to leadership and society has earned him recognition, including being named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Tariq Premji, another member of the Premji family, serves as the Vice President of the Azim Premji Endowment Fund and has been instrumental in managing philanthropic investments.


Azim Premji's life is a testament to the power of vision, determination, and philanthropy. From steering Wipro to unprecedented success to his unwavering commitment to improving education in India, he has left an enduring legacy.

Azim Premji's story continues to inspire individuals worldwide, highlighting the profound impact that business leaders can have on society when they choose to give back.

His contributions will be remembered for generations to come as he remains a beacon of hope and philanthropy in the world of business and beyond.

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