5th passed Dalit woman labourer earned ₹2, today she has an empire of ₹2,000 crore

So many stories never cease to touch our hearts and you need just one good moment to bring a change to your life and that is either learning from others’ experience or from your personal experience. Now after reading this story, you will think twice before moaning or complaining about your lavish life.

This is the story of a woman who had a tough childhood. Kalpana Saroj’s story is one that needs to be told to give enough motivation for the people who are feeling low. Hailing from Murtizapura, a hamlet in the interiors of Maharashtra and being born in a low caste Dalit family, she has had her shares of agony and misfortune. But she was one of the rare individuals, who by her sheer hard luck and perseverance, managed to turn the tables around. Today, she is the owner of six companies with a combined turnover of over Rs 2,000 crore. 

Even though her father allowed her to get an education, wider family pressures saw Kalpana was married at the age of 12.

It is worth mentioning here that despite all such difficulties and challenges, she touched the pinnacle of success. She moved to Mumbai to be with her husband who was 10 years older, but was shocked to find herself living in a slum. But that was not the only hardship she had to endure.

Kalpana faced many challenges in her life and defied all odds to become a brave woman. She even tried to commit suicide, but survived. At that moment, she decided that she would achieve something, and live life on her terms.

She made up her mind to do something big in her life. She returned to Mumbai a few years later and stayed with an uncle. Working in a hosiery company, she was earning only Rs 2 a day. But it was in the rough and tumble of Mumbai’s underbelly that she acquired her raw aggression, determination and earthy approach to conducting business.

In a few months, she also started stitching on the side and added an income of Rs 100. “I saw Rs 100 note for the first time… And I had earned it!” she says.

Within two years she had saved up a decent sum of money to rent a small house in Kalyan East and shifted her family in with her. In 1975, Kalpana got a loan of Rs 50,000 under the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Scheme – a government scheme for backward classes – and started a clothes boutique in Kalyan. On the side she started re-selling furniture.

“My father started looking after the furniture business and my younger sister took over the boutique,” says Kalpana. Things continued in an upward swing and Kalpana made a comfortable life for herself and her family. The next big shift in her income came only two decades later.

In 1995, Kalpana came across a man who wanted to sell his land to her as he was in urgent need of Rs 2.5 lakh. Kalpana agreed to buy his property and offered him only Rs 1 lakh. Later, Kalpana realised why he had sold it so cheap: the land was under litigation.

“I didn’t know anything about land deals till then,” explains Kalpana. “But I met the district collector who helped me to sort out things, and in two years I got permission to sell the land.”

Kalpana Saroj, a Dalit girl who at a time used to work for Rs 2, today lives in a 5,000 sq ft house in Kalyan. But if you think she is breathing a big sigh of relief now, then you are wrong. She is now going to invest in a hotel business in Rajasthan.

Kalpana is the mother of two children. Her daughter Seema has done a hotel management course and her son Amar is a commercial pilot.

Kalpana was awarded the Padma Shri for Trade and Industry in 2013 and was also appointed to the board of directors of Bhartiya Mahila Bank by the Government of India.

Writer, historian, and activist Dharam Sikarwar is a very active author The Youth. He writes on national and international issues, environment, politics. He is an avid book reader as well.