Entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is a well-known name across the world, and has been the recipient of two of India’s highest civilian honours — the Padma Shri in 1989 and Padma Bhushan in 2005. With such massive success and celebrity, Kiran credits her mother, 90-year-old Yamini Mazumdar, for the values the latter instilled in her.
Yamini’s own success is less talked about — she was a homemaker with no prior experience in running or managing a business. And yet, she decided to take the plunge and became an entrepreneur at the age of 68, after the demise of her husband. In fact, she was married off even before she had the opportunity to complete her graduation.
The year was 1990, and in order to be completely self-reliant, Yamini mortgaged her home and even sold the shares she had received from her husband to raise funds for a dry cleaning and laundry business, Jeeves. All she was armed with was her conviction.
Kiran describes her mother as a “brave woman” for having taken that step back then.
“Not many daughters can boast of the fact that their mother is a successful entrepreneur at the age of 87. This fiery independent streak is what I have inherited from you. You have been a pillar of great strength and inspiration to me,” Kiran said about her mother in a New Indian Express report.
Yamini set up a first-of-its-kind dry-cleaning unit equipped with high-end and imported dry-cleaning machines, as well as a laundry unit with equipment that was not very common in those days. She and her five-member team used to work for more than 12 hours every day. It took time for the business to take off but she managed to become debt-free in a decade.
In an earlier interview with Times of India, Yamini said, “I didn’t want to sit idle so decided to start something of my own. I go to office every day and work for four hours. I am still quite young, only 88.”
Her daughter, “My mom’s entrepreneurial genes have made me who I am.”
The business today has over 40 employees, and all of them were retained even when other businesses were forced to let people go due to COVID-19. “She, in fact, gave them all a COVID allowance and ensured that even if they did not come to work no money was cut from their salary,” Kiran noted.
In the same video, Kiran speaks about how her mother is an avid cricket fan and very keen on staying abreast with everything happening around her. “She is the one who often tells me about all the breaking news. She ensures that she keeps her mind young,” shares Kiran.
During the interview when asked what comes to mind when the word Bangalore is said, Yamini was quick to respond, “I came here as a bride.”
Geetika Mantri, senior editor with News Minute, once tweeted a rare image of Yamini sitting in a car after just having cast her vote in the 2018 Karnataka State Legislature, and quoted her as saying, “I vote because it’s my right! If people don’t want to vote, what’s the point of elections? They might as well just appoint anyone! Everyone should vote.”
Yamini Mazumdar, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s mum, is 72 & has exercised her voting right since she was 18. “I vote because it’s my right! If people don’t want to vote, what’s the point of elections? They might as well just appoint anyone! Everyone should vote.” #KarnatakaElections2018 pic.twitter.com/RKHmePCfaf
— Geetika (@geetikamantri) May 12, 2018
While Yamini has often been asked why she had to “work at her age”, her reply has remained the same over the years. “If Vajpayee (who was the then PM of India) could rule the country at 75, I can surely work at the age of 68!”
Kudos to women like Yamini, who continue to break the glass ceiling and push us to dream big.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)