Changing Fortunes: self-made women millionaires from Russia, China, India
Changing Fortunes - Feminine Touch meets self-made women millionaires from Russia, China and India
On 23 and 24 February, BBC World News Changing Fortunes explores the rise of the female entrepreneur, profiling three individuals who have overcome extreme poverty to make their fortunes.
Over the past decade the number one driver of global growth has been women. The fall of gender barriers and the narrowing wealth gap between men and women have seen a rising tide of female business women.
Born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, supermodel Natalia Vodianova grew up in a destitute district of the city with her mother and two sisters. To survive, Natalia and her family sold fruit illegally on the street but her mothers debts mounted.
At the age of 16, Natalia was spotted by an international modelling scout and six months later, found herself in the fashion capital of Paris. In conquering the European fashion scene, she was able to pay off her familys debts and has since achieved worldwide success in the fashion industry.
She has adorned the covers of American and British Vogue; completed advertising campaigns for fashion houses including Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton and Chanel; and graced the runways of Lanvin, Chloe and Marc Jacobs. In 2004 Natalia, prompted by the memories of her tough childhood and the Beslan school siege, set up the Naked Heart Foundation with the goal of raising money to create playgrounds and support centres for families raising children with learning disabilities.
In China, almost 40% of all businesses are owned and run by women. As a result, almost a third of the countrys millionaires are female. Zhang Lan, CEO of restaurant chain the South Beauty Group, is one of them.
Like Natalia, she too was brought up in extreme poverty. As a toddler, she and her family were forced under Mao to move to the remote Hubei province, where food was scarce. Her break came in 1989 when she got the chance to move to Canada to work in her uncles Chinese restaurant. Two years later, she had saved enough money to return to Beijing where the economic reforms of the then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping were beginning to produce business opportunities.
Zhang went into the restaurant trade and in 2000, established South Beauty, a high-end restaurant specialising in Szechuan cuisine. Today the South Beauty Group is amongst the most profitable restaurant chains in China, known for its fusion of art, fashion and oriental dining.
As a Dalit, or untouchable, Kalpana Saroj was born into the bottom of the economic pile in India. She was married off at 12, physically abused by her husbands family, and almost took her own life. Today she is at the helm of a successful property and manufacturing empire worth millions.
With the help of her father, Kalpana managed to leave her husband and was taken back to her village. Determined to succeed, she moved to Mumbai and stayed with an uncle, launching a small furniture and sewing company, before moving into property development.
Her most recent venture is Kamani Tubes Limited (KTL), a manufacturer of non-ferrous metal tubes and pipes, which is now worth more than £100m.
Changing Fortunes is a six-part series by BBC World News, exploring the new patterns of wealth that have emerged over the last two decades. From the United States, to Brazil, Europe, Africa, India and China - the series meets some of the innovators, entrepreneurs and business success stories whose fortunes offer a window into our rapidly changing world.
Changing Fortunes, broadcast in association with Coutts, will TX weekly on BBC World News from 2 Feb on Saturdays at 01.30; 15:30, and Sundays at 09:30; 20:30 (all times GMT).
For all the latest news from the series, please visit bbc.com/changingfortunes
The sponsorship arrangement was facilitated by BBC Advertising, which sells advertising and sponsorship solutions on behalf of BBC World News and bbc.com.
For more information contact Shammi Anand on +44 (0)7718 120 065 or email shammi.anand@...
Watch this episode online: http://www.bbc.com/specialfeatures/changingfortunes/episodes/the-feminine-touch/