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Kalpana Saroj | The success story of the original “Slumdog Millionaire”



Kalpana Saroj is an Indian entrepreneur and Chairperson of Kamani Tubes. Born in poverty and subjected to abuse while growing up, she overcame huge obstacles to become one of the most sought-after entrepreneurs in the country. Today, she had built a $112 Million empire and is an inspiration to young female entrepreneurs throughout the world. Often, she is described as the original “Slumdog Millionaire”. Her path to success was definitely not an easy one. She has shown the world that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

Early life of Kalpana Saroj

Kalpana was born to a Dalit family in Vidarbha, Maharashtra. Her father was a constable and her family lived in police quarters. She had three sisters and two brothers and as a Dalit girl, she faced a lot of discrimination. She was not allowed to participate in any extra-curricular activities at school. Additionally, the parents of other children would scold them for playing with her, visiting her house, and sharing food with her. She was a bright student and loved going to school. Being a Dalit, the teachers disapproved of her and often made her sit apart from the other students.

When she was just 12 years old, her parents decided to get her married. She shifted to Mumbai to live with her husband. In a household of ten people, she was responsible for all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Her in-laws did not treat her well and she was starved. They heaped emotional and physical abuses on Kalpana. When her father visited her after six months, he was horrified. He decided to take her back home. When she returned back home, the people in her village looked at her with disgust and taunted her. In the Dalit community, it was thought of as a sin if a married girl stayed with her parents.

A second chance at life

Unable to bear the harsh comments of the people around, Kalpana drank three bottles of rat poison. Fortunately, her aunt saw her in time and Kalpana was rushed to the hospital. She managed to survive and regained consciousness. However, after the incident, Kalpana felt strong, recharged, and empowered. God gave her a second chance at life and wasn’t going to waste it on self-pity. She decided to go back to Mumbai and stay with her uncle. In Mumbai, she worked as an assistant tailor in a garment factory. Within a few months, she mastered the art of sewing and got a promotion. After that, she rented a one-room apartment and lived there with her family. Her life was just getting better and suddenly, everything changed. Her younger sister passed away since she couldn’t raise enough money for her treatment.

After her sister’s death, she decided to not settle for an ordinary job and became an entrepreneur. She went through various government schemes and applied for a loan. With the money, started a small furniture business and sold cheap versions of high-end furniture. Alongside her furniture business, she also continued tailoring. Kalpana worked for almost sixteen hours a day. She was determined to succeed, no matter what circumstances she faced.

Steps towards success

Before becoming the owner of Kamani Tubes, Kalpana was caught in a real estate battle. For two years, she fought the legal battle and cleared the litigation issue of the land. One day, the workers of Kamani Tubes, a metal engineering company under massive debts, approached her to take charge and settle the debts. As her first order of business, she created a core team of ten members. Gradually, their efforts paid off and Kamani Tubes was profitable again. From living in a slum to setting up an empire worth $112 Million, Kalpana’s story is truly inspirational. “Ivy League degrees and fancy MBAs are not what makes an entrepreneur. Grit, perseverance and a superhuman ability to have faith in yourself does.” – Kalpana Saroj.

Also read: Akshay Kumar | The success story of Bollywood’s top actor

When did Kalpana Saroj recieve the Padma Shri Award?

April 20, 2013

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