India’s second-richest man has given an incredible £5.7 billion to charity in what is thought to be the country’s largest single donation ever.
Billionaire Azim Premji is the chairman of Wipro, a tech company which provides information technology, consulting and business process services.
His generous donation came in the form of shares of the company worth nearly 530 billion rupees (£5.7 billion), which he gifted to his own charity the Azim Premji Foundation.
The organisation focuses on education, and supports over 150 other non-profits serving under-privileged and marginalized Indians through financial grants. It also runs the Azim Premji University in Bangalore.
While the most recent donation is certainly the biggest, it’s not the first the 73-year-old has made. The foundation said in a statement that the chairman has now donated a total of $21 billion (£15.8 billion) to the Azim Premji Foundation over several years, including 67 per cent of Wipro’s shares.
The charity added the money could help the foundation open a second university and ‘scale up significantly’.
Premji had a fortune of $22.6 billion, but following the latest donation that has now reduced by 80 per cent, to $4.4 billion. Along with his family, he now owns 7 per cent of Wipro.
The businessman was the first Indian to sign the Giving Pledge, a campaign started by Warren Buffett along with Bill and Melinda Gates, which encourages billionaires around the world to commit most of their wealth to charity.
The India Philanthropy Report by consulting firm Bain & Company reports the billionaire has accounted for 80 per cent of ‘large donations’, defined as more than 100 million rupees (£1 million), from India’s richest individuals in the 2018 financial year.
Wipro was originally a vegetable oil manufacturer, founded by Premji’s father in 1945. The company transitioned into the technology industry in the 1980s under the current chairman’s leadership, and has since grown into one of India’s biggest IT services companies.
Forbes report Premji’s close friend and fellow billionaire Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw spoke of the impressive donation, saying:
It’s an awesome gesture. Azim has taken Indian philanthropy to another level.
Anurag Behar, the chief sustainability officer at Wipro and CEO of the Azim Premji Foundation, said:
The visibly wealthy and the newly wealthy in India are clearly not as generous as the wealthy in, say, America.
But India also has a substantial culture of philanthropy that is not conspicuous.
The 73-year-old has certainly proved he’s a generous individual!