Indian connection to Nepal’s first billionaire
Nepal got its first official billionaire on Monday with Forbes, the US business magazine, including Binod Chaudhary, President of the Chaudhary Group, in its annual list of billionaires across the globe.
Chaudhary with total net worth of $ 1 billion is ranked 1342nd and listed among the 210 newest billionaires for this year. Ninety four others with net worth similar to the Chaudhary Group are also placed in the same rank at the bottom of the list.
This is not the first time the 57-year-old has found mention in the magazine. In June 2008 Forbes’s Asia edition had carried a detailed feature on Chaudhary and the business empire he oversees.
The group’s motto ‘Touching life everyday’ is aptly justified due to its interests spread over sectors that include food, beverages, tobacco, healthcare, consumer electronics, healthcare, education, infrastructure, real estate and power to name a few.
Chaudhary belongs to Nepal’s strong Marwari business community who trace their roots to Rajasthan. Though most have become Nepali citizens now, they still retain links with India mostly through matrimonial ties.
The Chaudhary Group story started almost a century back when a young textile trader named Bhuramal Chaudhary (Binod’s grandfather) moved to Nepal from Rajasthan to do business.
Few years later he opened a shop in Kathmandu’s New Road—a business locality where most Marwari businesses are based—and began supplying clothes and other products to Nepal’s royals.
Bhuramal’s son Lunkaran Das opened Nepal’s first department store and also diversified to manufacturing textiles and utensils and biscuits. It was through biscuits that business jumped significantly.
To support the biscuit business Chaudharys started their own flour mills and packaging units. Soon they found the mills were producing more flour than what was needed for the biscuit unit.
It was then they started Wai Wai, a brand of instant noodles, which immediately monopolized the market in Nepal and was soon exported to the Middle East and India. The rest as they say is history.
Binod who was forced to abandon higher studies at 18 and join the family business due to his father’s ill health is credited with taking the group to a much higher level. Now it has 40 companies and is present in five continents.
Forbes mentions how Binod built most of his business overseas. The group is a partner with Taj Asia, a part of the Taj group of luxury hotels, which has several premium localities across the continent.
While Binod is still firmly in control of the business empire, the next generation of Chaudharys—his three sons Nirvana, Rahul and Varun—has already begun efforts to spread business further.
From a family that supplied goods to Nepal’s royals, the Chaudharys have become the country’s richest non-royals. And since Forbes doesn’t include royals in their list there’s no way of knowing if they are Nepal’s only billionaires till date.
But one thing seems pretty certain. When Forbes includes Nepal’s next billionaire in a future list it could very well be another Marwari who made Nepal home also built his fortune here.
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