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Malini Saba – A Psychologist and Businesswoman

Business is just not an understanding of numbers but actually an understanding of people and their motivation.

– By Chandran Iyer

Malini Saba is a self–made businesswoman, an ardent philanthropist and a force to be reckoned with. Ms. Saba embodies the concept of using business to serve humanity. Her eminent group of Commodities Company deals in rice, iron ore mining, wheat, palm oil, cashew nuts, and gold. Saba Industries exports 500,000 tons of rice worldwide. The company’s iron ore is used to make steel and its gold is used for jewelry and technology products. In 2017, Saba Industries had revenues of more than $500 million and employed 2,000 local workers. Saba Industries is a prime example of her stratagem of using business to serve humanity. Functioning in the agriculture and mining industry, the group hires local talents and helps them achieve economic stability. The CSR arm of the group, Saba Family Foundation, has given access to life-saving medical and educational services to millions of disadvantaged people across South and Southeast Asia, Australia, Africa, India, and the Middle East. The foundation is an extension of Ms. Saba’s philanthropy and aims to help at least one billion people to gain access to basic health care, education, and opportunities which allow them to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy.

Excerpts from the interview

Give us an overview of yourself.
I have a lovely family and a very supportive family. I am a psychologist and business is my passion. Business is just not an understanding of numbers but actually an understanding of people and their motivation. Life is not about degrees, life is about believing in your dream and taking opportunities that come your way and moving aggressively in the direction to make your dream a reality.

I started in business at a young age of 20. I have been working my whole life as I worked and put myself through school and college. I don’t come from a privileged life. I worked hard for everything and am still working hard.

Gosh, my typical day starts at 4 am. I wake up and light the lamps for prayer in the home with mantras. Then I tend to my business calls, make my daughter’s fresh hot lunch for school and her breakfast. Get myself dressed, drop her off and off to work. Management of time is critical to make your day productive. I manage my time well. Because it is critical for me I have most time with my child whenever I am not traveling for work. I believe the hardest and most rewarding job in the world is being a parent.

How did Saba Industries and Saba Family Foundation happen?
Saba Industries came about 26 years ago. I wanted to work for myself. It has evolved into this large group. It began with investments and later in Commodities. I believe we should all do what we love. Never focus on money. If you focus on money it will never come into your hands.

Woman Entrepreneur Separator

I love the commodity space. The Saba Foundation came about 18 years ago (about 2001) when I felt it was time to set it up. I wanted to be able to create a space where we could give back to the communities we worked in and also help women and children. This is my focus, I believe women are the future. We must give them opportunity to excel and the rest will follow.

Saba Industries is going to invest $100 million in the rice sector of India and Thailand. Why have you chosen India for this and what do you think would be the major challenges in this sector?
I think there are challenges in any field. I never see things as challenges. I see them as experiences. I think challenge is a negative word. India is a huge bread basket. We picked India because it was the next move for us as a company. I don’t see challenges in this sector. We have been doing it for over 20 years and understand the space and are ready for all the necessary work that has to go in when we go into a new country.

What were the challenges you faced as a Woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome those?
Gosh, where do I start? Being an entrepreneur is one thing, but being a woman in this space is another. I started at a time when there were not many women in business. That too young women. I had to raise funds, people never believing I was able to do what I said I could do. Through the years I faced failure three times. The third time was the hardest. The markets fell and it was a disaster. But we pulled ourselves out of it. The only way to overcome hurdles and failure is to pull yourself back up and find another way to make it work. You cannot give up and let fear ever take over. I am not afraid of failure and I do believe that is the first thing any entrepreneur should learn. Through failure, you can have success. Anyone who says they have never failed in life, I feel is not being honest.

Interview with Malini Saba – A Strong Woman

Interview with Malini Saba – A Strong Woman

Interview with Malini Saba – A Strong Woman

By Alexa Wong

When you come across a strong woman, you’ll know it the moment she enters the room. That was Malini. I knew it was her the moment she walked into the café.  She gave off a vibe of self confidence that anyone could spot from a mile away.

I met Malini, in a coffee shop downtown London. She was nice enough to give me time. She was in town on a business trip.

She sat down and we began the interview.

Here are 9 things I walked away with after talking with her:

1)   She takes time to self-care.

One of the less obvious keys to success is the self-love and self-care, because without those, a successful woman knows she is already up the creek.  You must take care of the person in the mirror first. You cannot get to the next point if you don’t nurture yourself along the journey.

2)   She is not afraid to stand on her own.

She believes a strong woman does not need anyone standing in front, behind or beside her to get things done. They set their goals, figure out how to achieve them, and then get after it.  You have to fight battles, tame dragons and walk through fire if you have too.

3)   She does not make excuses.

Malini believes that no matter her life circumstances, she rises with the tides and does whatever she needs to in order to make it to shore. She has never let her mind get in the way of her success, because she knows that she is more than capable of achieving what she wants.  Excuses get in the way of results, and she knows she cannot have both.

4)   She does not waste time complaining.

One can either complain and let yourself be a victim, or you can rise above your challenges and be a warrior. We have to simply get back up and try again and refuse to let petty life problems get in the way. She feels complaining only drains her energy, so she chooses to put her energy into something useful and create something out of nothing.

5)   She chooses to challenge herself.

When you get too comfortable, you stop growing, she says.  It’s important to always keep yourself learning to try new things and expand your knowledge and skill sets.

6)   She stays on top of finances.

We all go through tough times and hard times.  I have certainly had my share, Saba states. Sometimes we may have even start all over again. She says she has had to do that.  However, you cannot let it keep you down. We have to make sure we are on top of our finances. We must always take care of no 1 first, regardless if you are married or not. You must keep money aside for that rainy day. Her advice, Governments change and markets shift and we must be ready for that.

7)  She keeps an open mind.

She believes while strong women tend to have strong opinions and beliefs about things, they also keep and open mind and learn from others. A strong woman is able to be sorry, forgive and move ahead. A strong woman can accept when she is wrong.

8)  She helps everyone around her.

Another facet to success that most people don’t think about is lifting others up around you. After all, what good is a win if you don’t have a team to help you celebrate.  She believes that its important to always help others even if it’s in the smallest way. Giving back is what all of us are here to do.

9)  She stands her ground.

A strong woman never shy away from a problem. She will stand her ground and face it head on.

My one hour with Malini turned to a four, hour conversation. She was one of the most attentive, charismatic, and genuine person I have had the pleasure to interview. She made eye contact through the four, hour conversation. She was like an everyday person with huge success while keeping to her humble beginnings. It was a privilege to meet her.

I will end with a quote from Malini,

“’If my strength intimidates you. I hope you realize that’s a weakness of yours.’”