Kiran Mazumdar Shaw's biotech venture was launched on $9,000 in traveler's checks from an Irish investor. The oddity of an Indian entrepreneur who was young and female left her unable to hire anyone or rent office space. And banks? "Banks didn't know what biotech was," she recalls. "People said, 'What are enzymes? We've never heard of such products.'" Her company, Biocon, has grown into a listed company with annual revenues of $260 million.

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