The Story of Malini Saba
I’m always interested in reading stories about strong and successful women who achieve the impossible. It’s especially important for little girls who come from a disadvantaged background to have positive role models that they can look up to, and to know that their socioeconomic backgrounds don’t have to imprison them their entire lives. That’s why I find the story of entrepreneur Malini Saba to be so compelling.
Saba was born to Sri Lankan parents in the South Asian city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She moved to the United States when she was only 19 years old, with nothing but the clothes on her back and a small amount of cash. Upon first settling in the States, she lived in a low-rent apartment by the train tracks, which she recalls would shake every time a train passed by. She knows what it’s like to have nothing and to struggle to make a living day in and day out.
This didn’t deter her from pursuing her dreams, however. In the ’90s, using money she had saved over the years, she began learning about business and investing. As the spouse of a Stanford student, she was able to attend lectures for free. She supplemented what she learned in class with “gate crashing” gatherings of investment bankers and pumping them for information. (See a profile of Malini Saba here.)
Stree: Global Investments in Women
Eager to use her business and investment knowledge for the greater good, Saba founded her Stree organization in 2001, which has since helped over three million women. The purpose of Stree is to educate low-income and at-risk women and their children about the positive role they can play in society, as well as providing them with access to healthcare, legal resources, and forums for greater engagement with public policy in Africa, Central America, India, and Eastern Europe. Stree has been supported by both former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Jordan’s Queen Noor.
Outside of her own organization, Saba is known as one of the world’s foremost South Asian philanthropists. She donated $10 million to help Sri Lankan and Indian tsunami victims in 2004. In 2005, she donated $1 million to the world’s first Heart Research Center for South Asian people.
With such outstanding credentials, Saba is truly an inspiration to women and young girls all over the world.