Rishad Premji On Philanthropy and Why Wipro Does Not Acquire Start-ups
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When it comes to humanitarian work, Wipro has set a benchmark that makes everyone talk about them around the globe. While making money is important, the company also believes in contributing a big chunk of earnings towards the welfare of society.
Talking about the plans as a philanthropist, chairman Rishad Premji said, “67 per cent of the economic interest of Wipro is owned by the foundation. Every 67 cents of a dollar we make goes to a good cause. I think it's very, very powerful for employees. It matters deeply to us and customers.”
In an interaction with Enpretrepeneur India Editor-in-Chief, Ritu Marya at IIT-Bombay on Sunday, Premji mentioned that the focus of the foundation is in the area of education.
Talking about the challenges they face he said, “We work with public schools in the system and government schools in rural India in some of the toughest districts. The magic of India is that there is a school within a kilometer of walking radius of every child in the country. This isn't something that the British developed. The challenge is for the school to function. Because you can have a teacher teaching, second-third standard at the same time. Or a teacher might be a multi-subject teacher. Often the child will bring a sibling along because there is no way to leave him home. Also, the best meal they get is a mid-day meal.”
Technology Not The Solution To Education Problem In India
Initially being a technology company, the company thought the implementation of tech was the solution to the problem. However, very quickly realised that's not the solution to the problem.
“How do you enhance the capability and quality of the teacher significantly impacts the quality of the student. I always give examples of how you measure the self-confidence of a child; it's more important than anything. Technology can't teach you that, only a teacher can do that. Our focus is to enhance teachers, that's our focus,” he said.
Three Sectors To Make Investments:
Considering the man is the master of various trades, he also spoke about three sectors where he would put his money. "I would put money around cybersecurity. Anything around IOT, connecting to data engineering, which brings the information in a very structured manner to the organisation and anything to do with AI. These are things that will have a huge say on how businesses unfold,” he said.
Not Having The Courage To Acquire Start-ups:
All those who have observed Wipro’s graph often wonder, why wouldn’t they acquire a start-up? Rishad stated the fact that they don’t have the courage to take over a start-up is because the company could destroy them.
“Very honestly, I worry as a large company we're quite structured and process-oriented, I am worried that we would destroy what makes a young company tick. The speed and efficiency with which a young start-up can pivot and reprioritize, a big company does not move with that agility,” he said.
He also mentioned their focus was never to acquire but to take the solution they create to their customers around the globe.
“I don't think we've had the guts yet to go out there and buy a very young company. Lot of M&As as a company but not the guts to buy a small, very young company. We think we would destroy them," he said.
However, the company has a venture fund whose focus is to invest in start-ups and get access to their latest innovation. They majorly look for companies that work in cybersecurity, analytics, cloud infrastructure, AI, test automation and application development.