Who says you need an MBA or an Ivy league degree to rule the corporate world? Welcome to the life of Kalpana Saroj, a Dalit child-bride who, today, is a successful entrepreneur, handling assets worth millions, and her story is pretty damn inspiring.
Married off at the age of 12, Kalpana suffered an inhumane amount of abuse at her husband's house, only to finally be rescued by her father. She then went on to be ostracized by the villagers and even tried to attempt suicide! She later shifted to Mumbai, and started working at a garment factory to support her family.
Things totally turned around for her when she took a loan of INR 5,000 to start her own furniture business. Slowly and intelligently, she worked her way into other sectors (including real estate, sugar and steel) and proved she had killer entrepreneurial chops. She even founded a production house, and produced a film called Khairalnji which was dubbed in Hindi, English and Telegu.
Her entrepreneur skills were again put to the test when she took over Kamani Tubes as Chairperson (which was on the verge of being liquidated in 2001!). And Kalpana, like the baller she is, didn't just restructure the entire company, but also started turning a profit and restoring the livelihood of hundreds of workers!
To add to the feathers in her cap, Kalpana was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri (in the Trade and Industry category) in 2013, and was appointed to the board of directors of Bhartiya Mahila Bank—a government bank primarily for women.
In an interview to the media, she said, "there are many roads. If one way doesn't work out I try to think of another way. If that doesn't work, I think 'what's the alternative?' " And that probably explains her massive success!