After spending 10 years in the UK, Mr. Poonawalla returned in 2001 and joined the family business. At that stage, Serum Institute of India was in about 20-30 countries. With a push on exports and a passion to travel to expand in other countries, he expanded the business to 147 countries today and took over from his father in 2011 as CEO launching a number of new vaccines for preventable diseases that protect children’s lives today.
In 2012, he founded The Villoo Poonawalla Charitable Foundation along with his wife in memory of his late mother, Villoo, to address education, healthcare and sanitation. Today 500 Kms of roads, half the city of Pune, is covered using 250 trucks and 450 full time employees picking up and processing the city waste. Waste and garbage has a major environmental impact and creates a false image of a backward India to foreign visitors, dignitaries and public at large. We are on the brink of disaster when it comes to urban cities which are growing at an exponential rate in population and their waste. His ultimate vision is to do what is done in US and Europe whereby waste is converted to electricity / energy. Today we burn our garbage which is obviously terrible from all angles or let it seep into the ground and into our water system because of landfills, polluting our river.
The Foundation also now provides clean drinking water at 30 locations, has 8 schools with over 10,000 children being educated and a charitable hospital. A new business also which has been started in 2019 is Poonawalla Finance, a fast growing digital NBFC.
He has received many accolades for his efforts, one being the CNN Indian of the Year in 2017 at the hands of Mr. Arun Jaitley and he has also been appointed as The Swachh Bharat Ambassador by Prime Minister Mr. Modi joining the company of the Brand Ambassadors like Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and Mr. M.S.Dhoni for Swachh Mission India.
He continues to expand by developing new vaccines for global outbreaks, most currently being the Corona Virus vaccine, first of its kind to be made in India. He has substantially brought down global prices by more than 50% and launched many new vaccines such as Rotavirus, Pneumococcal and now multiple Covid-19 vaccines which are under clinical trials.