Founded in 1945 as a steel trading company, we entered automotive manufacturing in 1947 to bring the iconic Willys Jeep onto Indian roads. Over the years, we've diversified into many new businesses in order to better meet the needs of our customers. We follow a unique business model of creating empowered companies that enjoy the best of entrepreneurial independence and Group-wide synergies. This principle has led our growth into a US $16.2 billion multinational group with more than 144,000 employees in over 100 countries across the globe.
Today, our operations span 17 key industries that form the foundation of every modern economy: aerospace, aftermarket, agribusiness, automotive, components, consulting services, defense, energy, farm equipment, finance and insurance, industrial equipment, information technology, leisure and hospitality, logistics, real estate, retail, and two wheelers.
Our federated structure enables each business to chart its own future and simultaneously leverage synergies across the entire Group's competencies. In this way, the diversity of our expertise allows us to bring our customers the best in many fields.
Mahindra and an independent India began their rise together. In 1945, two enterprising brothers named J.C. Mahindra and K.C. Mahindra joined forces with Ghulam Mohammed and started Mahindra & Mohammed as a steel company in Mumbai. Two years later, India won its independence, Ghulam Mohammed left the company to become Pakistan's first finance minister, and the Mahindra brothers ignited the company's enduring growth with their decision to manufacture Willys jeeps in Mumbai. The company's new name? Mahindra & Mahindra, of course.
The Mahindra brothers believed that new modes of transportation could be a key to India's prosperity, so one of their first goals was to build rugged, simple vehicles capable of tackling the Indian terrain. Early pioneers of globalization, the brothers collaborated with a wide range of international companies and before long, Mahindra's reach extended to steel, tractors, telecom, and more.
Now, after 65 years, Mahindra has grown from a humble local outfit to a US $15.9 billion corporation employing more than 144,000 people around the world. It's been quite an adventure so far, and we're proud of our global leadership in utility vehicles, tractors, and information technology, as well as our significant presence in financial services, leisure and hospitality, engineering, trade, and logistics. As we accelerate into the 21st century, we'll continue to pursue innovative ideas that enable people to rise.
The Mahindra Group's foray into the two-wheeler segment began with the acquisition of business assets of Kinetic Motor Company Ltd. (KMCL) in 2008 extending Mahindra's pedigree into the two wheeler space. We've come a long way, but the journey has just begun.
Mahindra & Mahindra took birth when K.C. Mahindra visited USA as Chairman of the India Supply Mission. There, he met Barney Roos, inventor of the rugged 'general purpose vehicle' or Jeep and had a flash of inspiration: wouldn't a vehicle that had proved its invincibility on the battlefields of World War II be ideal for India's rugged terrain and its kutcha rural roads?