The Rolex Awards for Enterprise
One of the most prominent entrepreneurs and social philanthropists in India, Ronnie Screwvala is an iconic figure in the country’s media industry where he has spearheaded the growth of television and film over more than 30 years. Following graduation from Mumbai’s Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics, Screwvala ventured briefly into acting and a successful manufacturing business before launching India’s first cable TV network, in 1981. A decade later, he founded UTV, today one of India’s largest media and entertainment conglomerates, spanning motion pictures, broadcasting, television, games and digital. As producer or co-producer of more than 70 films, Screwvala is credited with creating and marketing cinema that attracts large audiences and forging closer ties with Hollywood. Catching the attention of the Walt Disney Company early on, UTV was eventually bought out by the U.S. giant in 2012, with Ronnie Screwvala at the helm. In October 2013, he stepped down as managing director of Disney UTV India, to pursue his entrepreneurial goals and devote more time to the Swades Foundation, which he and his wife set up in the late 1980s as SHARE – Society to Heal Aid Restore Educate. With a $90 million investment by Screwvala, Swades intends to empower one million villagers in Maharashtra in the next five years by providing them with reliable drinking water, sanitation, education for women, sustainable agriculture and health, among other areas of rural development. The foundation already impacts 250,000 people in 1,000 villages. In addition, Screwvala’s investment arm, Unilazer Ventures, seeks to champion outstanding entrepreneurs. For his innate ability to merge creativity and commerce and his many achievements, Screwvala was named one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century in 2008 by Esquire and, in 2009, one of the most influential people in the world by Time.
Published in 2014