Wipro Chairman Azim Premji has decided to contribute more of his wealth to philanthropic activities through the Azim Premji Foundation. He, however, has not specified how much more he will commit.
Azim Premji Foundation works to improve equity and quality of the primary education system in India. Currently, it has about 800 people working across the country, which Premji expects would grow to 4,000-5,000 people over the next five years.
Premji also become the first Indian corporate leader to have committed to The Giving Pledge, formed by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates. According to a release from The Giving Pledge, 12 new pledge signatories joined the cause, including Premji, Hasso Plattner and Vladimir Potanin, bringing the total to 105 families committed to the pledge, which is collectively worth $500 billion.
In a letter to the first international Giving Pledge Group, Premji said: "I am committed to transferring more of my wealth to scale up the endowment of the Foundation. I strongly believe that those of us who are privileged to have wealth, should contribute significantly to try and create a better world for the millions who are far less privileged. I will continue to act on this belief."
The billionaire chairman of Wipro founded the Azim Premji Foundation, a non-profit organisation, in 2001 to work in collaboration with the government to improve the public schooling system in the country.
In 2010, Premji donated around 8.7 per cent (approximately $2 billion) of the total stock of Wipro from his personal stock-holding for philanthropy, which formed the endowment for the Foundation.
The Giving Pledge, formed in 2010, encourages the wealthiest in the US to give a part of their wealth towards philanthropic activities. Earlier, Buffett, who is one of the founders of the group, had said that they are planning to widen the group's function outside the US to India and China. Recently, Gates held discussions with some of the wealthiest Indians in Bangalore, which was co-hosted by Premji and Ratan Tata.
Premji is also focused on scaling up the Azim Premji Foundation. “In 2009, we reviewed our experience and our strategy at the Foundation. As a result, we decided to scale up our work and deepen our support to the public schooling system by creating institutions,” Premji said.
In 2010, the foundation established Azim Premji University (APU) in Karnataka, specialising in post-graduate programmes in the area of education and development.
“The developments of the past two years have given me confidence in our scaled up and institutional strategy. Even as we execute this strategy, I am aware that ensuring stable funding source is critical for its success. I am committed to transferring more of my wealth to scale up the endowment of the foundation,” he added.