The Path Less Traveled

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Apart from a handful, you don’t hear many stories of Indian women entrepreneurs making it big–certainly not in the biotechnology industry. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw not only made her mark in a male dominated industry, but also managed this while overcoming the many struggles faced by Indian women in a male-dominated, patriarchal society.

 

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is the Chairman & Managing Director of Biocon Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bengaluru, India. She has received a number of awards that include Best Woman Entrepreneur, ET Business Woman, Emst & Young’s Enterpreneur Award, Technology Pioneer Award along with Padmashri in 1989 and Padma Bhusan in 2005 from Government of India. She ranks 85th on the list of Forbes most powerful women and 92nd on India’s richest.

 

 In 1978, at the age of 25, she started the company from the garage of her rented house with a mere capital of  $2,724. Sexism is one of the foremost problems faced by women in business all around the world and the Indian corporate culture is no different. Kiran faced many challenges while trying to set up her start up. The first issue was arranging funds. There were few banks willing to lend money to a young female entrepreneur hoping to start a business in the then less chartered territories of biotechnology.  To make matter worse, she faced difficulties in recruiting people for her startup as not many wanted to work under a “female boss.” She took this in stride, and with her honest proposal and dedication, explained her vision to each employee and banker and won their hearts. Her trouble though did not end here. Even the raw material procurement companies she had to deal with did not want to work with a woman. In spite of the hardships, Kiran has made her mark on the Indian society and Biotech industry.

 

Her company the first Indian company to manufacture and export enzymes to USA and Europe and become the first company to receive US funding for proprietary technologies. She now focuses on biopharmaceuticals and making affordable drugs for the world. Along with being a sharp businesswoman she is a philanthropist. According to Forbes, Kiran has pledged to donate 75% of her wealth, currently estimated at $625 million. The 60-year-old has given away  $33 million to multiple charities since 2005, which includes helping build a 1,400-bed cancer center in Bengaluru.

 

A powerful businesswoman with a big heart, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is truly an inspiring role model for all aspiring women hoping to make it big.

 

Krisha Mehta

American University in Dubai

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