Latha Pandiarajan (Mafoi)
- Entrepreneurship is a painfully underrated concept in our country. In a country that does little to encourage pursuits of business, people who nurture the entrepreneurial spirit are few. One amongst these people is Latha Pandiarajan. With her success, she defied all stereotypes that dictated that a woman cannot be as good an entrepreneur as a man can be.
- In 1992, Latha and her partner Pandiarajan founded the company ‘Ma Foi’. Today, the company employs 10,500 people, out of which 10,000 are temporary employees. But the company functions in such a way that the term ‘employees’ seems a bit inapt. ‘Member’ would be a more apt term to describe them. And that is how Latha sees them. Such value of viewing the company as a family is what keeps the enterprise running successfully.
- Very few have the quality of truly rejoicing the victory of others. Latha Pandiarajan is one of those few. There are many success stories of Ma Foi workers who discovered their entrepreneurial spirit while working there, and then left the organisation to pursue their dreams. She feels happy for them from the bottom of her heart. How many people can say the same, with the purest intention, to employees who left their company? The answer is ‘very few’. Latha once again proves to be the rarest of the rare!
- Latha always insisted on keeping the core concept intact. She believes that an organisation should not stray away from the primary concept it was founded on. Ma Foi is a Consulting Company. But initially, she prioritised technology-oriented initiatives. She created 7 web portals for Ma Foi, and advertised them. This move did not hit its target, for it was way far from the company’s core concept – being a consultant. That failure taught her the lesson of sticking to the core concept. After a few years, a technologically better company, Naukri.com, bagged great success by creating a web portal for employment opportunities. But Latha appreciated them at many events without any feelings of envy.
- Latha comes from a very simple background. Her mom was her everything. She recounts, “My mother has never stopped me from chasing my dreams. She was whole-heartedly on board with me pursuing the career of my choice.” When Latha wanted to start Ma Foi, she could not get any financial assistance from banks. She applied with more than 10 banks for a loan, but none of them sanctioned it. Even before crowdfunding and crowdsourcing was a thing, Latha tried them and successfully founded her company.
- Latha enjoys interacting with young entrepreneurs. She finds immense joy in hearing their stories. In collaboration with Native Lead Foundation, she started the “Aayiram Pookkal Malarattum” initiative. This initiative aims at identifying potential entrepreneurs and facilitating them with the necessary guidance. She sees young entrepreneurs as more than just entrepreneurs – they are the ‘New Freedom Fighters of a Young India’.
- “Those who do not know history cannot create history.” Latha s a great example for this quote. Latha is well-versed with history, particularly the history of Tamil Nadu. She beautifully narrates how Tamil Nadu stands out with a glory that no other Indian state can achieve, and how great leaders like Kamarajar and Karunanidhi have relentlessly worked to steer the state toward progress.
- Her husband Pandiarajan is a true ‘partner’ in every sense of the word. Latha expresses that progress cannot be achieved if men and women keep struggling in their own worlds. Success is possible only when both the genders work together toward progress.
- No entrepreneur has excelled without any help from society. Therefore, it becomes one of the foremost duties of an entrepreneur to give back to society. Latha is a person who is well-aware of this. So she keeps serving the society with her initiatives to improve education, medicine, sports, environment, women empowerment, etc.