Azim Premji often leans on Mahatma Gandhi for his philosophy of wealth. "The idea that the wealthy must be trustees of their wealth for the good of the people resonated with me much before I became wealthy," he said during a convocation ceremony of Gujarat Vidyapith in 2019.
Not to say that Premji was not ambitious in pursuit of entrepreneurial success. The path to success has not been easy, though. A young Premji left Stanford University mid-way to take over the business established by his father, Western India Vegetable Products. Instead of sticking to the inherited business, he took a shot at diversification and sensed an opportunity when IBM pulled out of the country in late 1970s. He started Wipro and made it India's fourth-largest software services exporter. Wipro today has presence in 66 countries and employs 2,40,000 people. In FY22, it surpassed $10 billion in revenues by notching fastest-ever growth in absolute terms. Azim Premji's wealth is $21.94 billion or ₹1,74,925 crore.
Among the list of India's wealthiest, what sets apart Premji is his quest to give back to society. He imbibed the culture of serving from his mother, founder-member of a charitable orthopaedic hospital for disabled children, one of the first in Independent India.
Since 2001, Azim Premji Foundation has been working to ensure that children from underprivileged communities receive quality education. Premji also has a knack for supporting businesses. His family office venture Premji Invest bets on companies ranging from start-up unicorns like Purplle to traditional ones like Shubham Housing Development Finance. Data platform Crunchbase pegs its investments at 67.
Premji has never allowed his riches define his way of living. Known for his frugal lifestyle, it is believed that Premji zeroed in on a second hand Mercedez Benz E-class after his colleagues nudged him to replace his Toyota Corolla that he had been using for long. "I have never had the need or thrill for being wealthy," he explained at an industry event.