About Malini Saba
Born to Sri Lankan parents in a middle class household in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and growing up in Australia, Malini moved to the U.S. when she was 19 — with just $200 to survive. As the story goes, she and her former husband rented an apartment just outside the Stanford University Campus while the two pursued their education.
But starting from scratch was not easy. “We lived there for four years. It was an apartment by the railway track and every time a train went by the whole apartment would shake. We were that poor,” recalls Saba with a down to earth laugh. Though these were tough times for the couple, it was also the time Malini Saba laid the foundation for bigger things she would achieve.
As the spouse of a Stanford student, Saba could attend lectures at the university for free. “I was extremely interested in investment and the business angle.” What she then decided to do is what sets her story apart from so many others like hers. Saba gate crashed into gatherings where investment bankers were around. She talked to them. Got their advice and with the money she had saved over the years, she slowly started investing in sectors like telecommunications, commodities and real estate.
Today, Malini Saba is without question one of the world’s top investors and philanthoropists of South Asian origin. Ms. Saba is the Chairman of Saban, a company that has had and continues to retain varied investment interests worldwide, including technology companies in the US, oil and gas properties in China, and real estate ventures in Australia and India.
Behind the businesswoman persona, Malini is an impassioned philanthropist. In 2001, she started “Stree: Global Investments in Women,” a non-profit organization aimed at changing the way low income and at-risk women and children worldwide see themselves and their roles in society. Supported by former US President Bill Clinton and Jordan’s Queen Noor, “Stree” provides a means for women to access healthcare, legal empowerment, and provides a forum for grassroots movements to connect with public policy in Africa, Central America, India and Eastern Europe.
In June 2005, Malini donated $1 million to kick start the world’s first Heart Research Center for South Asian people at El Camino Hospital, Mountain View, CA. In 2004, she toured the Tsunami ravaged areas in India and Sri Lanka and pledged $10 million to the victims of the tragedy in the island nation.
Malini’s investment career began as a Silicon Valley venture capitalist during the 1990s. She has extensive experience investing in more than 20 technology companies, including Sycamore Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:SCMR), PayPal Inc. (acquired by eBay, Inc. for about $1.5 billion) and Netscreen Technologies, Inc.(acquired by Juniper Networks, Inc. for about $4 billion). Her success in business is succeeded only by her passion for philanthropy.
In the mid 2000s, even before “globalization” became a buzzword, Malini was looking beyond the borders of the US into Asia and South America, investing in commodity firms around the world. Her biggest returns to date have been in the oil and gas sector.