Dr. Karsanbhai Patel – Founder of Nirma Group

Ms. Priti Prajapati
Lecturer, SRIMCA

Dr. Karsanbhai Khodidas Patel is a founder of Nirma group and Nirma University. He is well known businessman, industrialist and philanthropist of Gujarat. He was born in farmer family at Mehsana, North Gujarat in 1945. He completed B.Sc. in Chemistry at the age of 21. First Karsanbhai joined New Cotton Mills, Ahmedabad of the Lalbhai group as lab technician. Then he joined the Geology and Mining Department of the state Government in 1969.

Karsanbhai Patel used to make detergent powder in 10x12ft room of his house in Ahmedabad and then carry out door to door selling of his hand made product. He gave a money back guarantee with every pack that was sold. Karsanbhai Patel managed to offer his detergent powder for Rs. 3 per kg when the cheapest detergent at that time was Rs.13 per kg and so he was able to successfully target the middle and lower middle income segment. That time, there was a huge demand for Nirma in Ruppur (Gujarat), which is the hometown of Karsanbhai.

Karsanbhai Patel had good knowledge of chemicals and he came up with Nirma detergent which was a result of innovative combination of the important ingredients. Indigenous method was used, and also the detergent was more environment friendly. Nirma became a huge success and all this was a result of Karsanbhai Patel’s entrepreneurial skills.

That time Karsanbhai give a statement that is:

“The lack of any such precedent in my family made the venture fraught with fear of failure. But farmers from North Gujarat are known for their spirit of enterprise."

Karsanbhai set up shop at small workshop in an Ahmedabad suburb. The Nirma brand quickly established itself in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Nirma became a very successful company within three decades. The company had multi-locational manufacturing facilities, and a broad product portfolio under an umbrella brand – Nirma (named after his daughter Nirupama). The company’s mission to provide, “Better Products, Better Value, Better Living” contributed a great deal to its success.

By 1985, Nirma washing powder had become one of the most popular detergents in many parts of the country. By 1999, Nirma was a major consumer brand – offering a range of detergents, soaps and personal care products. After establishing its leadership in economy-priced detergents, Nirma entered the premium segment, launching toilet soaps Nirma bath and Nirma beauty soap, and

premium detergent Super Nirma detergent. Ventures into shampoo and toothpaste were not as successful, but the edible salt Shudh is doing well. Nirma beauty soap is one of the leading toilet soaps, behind Lifeboy and Lux. Overall Nirma has a 20% market share in soap cakes and about 35% in detergents. Nirma also has successful operations in neighbouring countries.

Karsanbhai also interested in education field. So Nirma has made some good efforts by starting Nirma Education & Research Foundation (NERF) in the year 1994 for the purpose of running various educational institutes. In 1995, Karsanbhai started the Nirma Institute of Technology in Ahmedabad, which grew into a leading engineering college in Gujarat. An Institute of Management followed, with the entire structure being consolidated under the Nirma University of Science and Technology in 2003, overseen by the Nirma Education and Research Foundation. The Nirmalabs education project, aimed at training and incubating entrepreneurs, was launched in 2004. Nirma also runs Nirma Memorial Trust ,Nirma Foundation and Chanasma Ruppur Gram Vikas Trust as a part of their effort as a socially responsible corporate citizen.

In 2001, Karsanbhai was awarded an honorary doctorate by Florida Atlantic University, recognizing his exceptional entrepreneurial and philanthropic accomplishments. In 1990, the Federation of Association of Small Scale Industries of India (FASII), New Delhi, awarded him the 'Udyog Ratna' award. The Gujarat Chamber of Commerce felicitated him as an 'Outstanding Industrialist of the Eighties'. He has served twice as Chairman of the Development Council for Oils, Soaps and Detergents, as a Member of Bureau of Indian Standards Committee for Soaps and Detergent Industries and President of Gujarat Detergent Manufacturers Association. He also got Gujarat Businessman Award in 1998 by Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ahmedabad and Excellence in Corporate Governance Award by Rotary International District 2000.

The company that was started in 1969 with just one man who used to deliver his product from one house to the other, today employs around 14,000 people with 350 sales force, 400 distributers, Over 1 million retailers, 300 million consumers and has a turnover of more than $500 million. Karsanbhai's two sons and son-in-law are now at leading positions in the Nirma organization: Rakesh K Patel, MBA, looks after procurement and logistics, Hiren K Patel, chemical engineer and MBA, heads marketing and finance, while Kalpesh Patel is in human resources.


  1. http://www.nirma.co.in
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karsanbhai_Patel
  3. http://www.iloveindia.com/indian-heroes/karsanbhai-patel.html
  4. http://www.jeetegakaun.in/sabsebadagujarati/karsanbhai_patel/
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirma

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