Every week, we are seeing people who made it big in their life and have been inspiration to many others, with what they had in life. This week we will talk about a person who had started his life from the level zero, and made it really big. Prahlad Chhabria – Chairman of Finolex group of companies.
A real "Rags to riches" life story is what we all will say....
Prahlad Chhabria is a self made man, but on contrary he has written his autobiography named "There's No Such Thing As a Self-Made Man"
Prahlad was born in 1930' in Karachi, Pakistan, in a merely middle classed family.
Despite being born in a traditional Shikarpuri Sindhi moneylender's community, his father's untimely death made his family poor.
His father died when he was 12 years old, and he was forced to work at that tender age.
At the age of 12, he started his career as a cleaner in a small cloth shop at a salary of Rs10 per month, a year later when he was 13 Chhabria served sherbet (Cool drink) to customers in a cloth store, living off from leftovers in Sethji's kitchen.
A year later, as a bill collector in Amritsar, while keeping accounts, he taught himself to read and write. Armed with his year-long savings a crisp Rs10 note he took the train back to Sindh, but was robbed by a Pathan. The ticket collector asked the young prahlad,"How will we know that the money is yours?" Chhabria had spent so much time admiring the precious note that he had memorized its number, and the money was retrieved from the culprit! His skill with figures got honed over time.
In the year India gained independence, 17-year-old Prahlad P. Chhabria was a domestic servant working 14-hour days for a Pune moneylender, sending Rs30 a month to his widowed mother and nine siblings in Karachi, Pakistan. Back then, he could barely read or write, but he was very interested in learning new things in life.
Later Chhabria and his younger brother and business partner Kishan moved to Pune and learned their Engineering ropes. They started selling electrical supplies all over Pune, which gained them the required experience to open a retail shop. Soon they opened a retail shop.
The differentiator was their ability to provide electrical services. By taking appliances apart, the younger brother Kishan learnt to repair them, moving on to laying electrical cables, even making his own line of irons.
It was this knowledge of fabrication that propelled them into the next league, and they began to supply to the army. While Kishan became an expert on manufacturing processes, Chhabria became well-versed in applying for licences in Delhi. The brothers clinched their first big contract for copper-braided cables, for Rs3 lakh, and bought a copper braiding machine from Japan. Says Chhabria, "Today, without planning and proper technology and processes, nobody could bumble along and set up a new industry from scratch as we did." The new machine was installed in a cowshed. Undaunted by the instruction manual in Kanji characters, they relied on Kishan's reverse engineering ingenuity, and made a whopping Rs1 lakh profit from the order.
Here comes the Birth of the Spark
They made PVC-insulated cable. Chhabria says "Our beautiful new cable was best described as "fine" and "flexible", which became "Finolex". It describes us as well today as it did in 1958." Finolex is currently a family and professionally managed conglomerate with more than 3,000 employees, with interests in telecom, power, petrochemicals and agriculture.
Prahlad started his life as a door-to-door peddler of electrical supplies. Now, he is the founder of Rs3,000 crore company Finolex — India's leading cable maker and second largest PVC resin manufacture.
Not only a multi millionaire by status, he also spent most of his income in charity and human welfare. He wanted to give, what he couldn't afford earlier: a decent education. Inspired by a lecture by Vijay Bhatkar, architect of India's first supercomputer series, Chhabria set up the non-profit, IIT, campus at Hinjewadi, Pune, in 2003. With international tie-ups under its belt, it offers masters and PhD courses in IT engineering to students, more than 40% of whom are from the rural India. Transforming them into well-placed software engineers gives him great satisfaction.
Till date, Chhabria and the Finolex Group have invested around Rs100 crore in their non-profit educational institutes.
Prahlad adds, in the coming five years, at the behest of the Andhra Pradesh government, Chhabria will set up a non-profit school and engineering college on 50 acres near Tirupati; the Maharashtra government has allocated him two vocational training colleges to modernize. Meanwhile, he's building a non-profit Central Board English-medium school in Ratnagiri, where 75% of the seats will be free.
Scientist R.A. Mashelkar, president of Global Research Alliance, opines that formal education and achievement have little correlation. The two great innovators, scientists Michael Faraday and Thomas Edison, had no education. He says, "P.P. Chhabria similarly belongs to a different class of people, who were unadulterated by formal education! His investments in this sector come from his fundamental belief that their returns will not be to the Chhabria family but to the nation."
Chhabria's favorite lines remain "Those who are enlightened find the world illuminated"
This seems like a fairy tale story isn't? This is not a fairy tale story. This is a story of a real person with strong willpower who can always find a way to overcome the obstacles in his path to success.
Under prahlad's leadership, Finolex has become the No. 1 manufacturer of all cables in India, second only to Reliance in the manufacture of PVC resin. He has championed non-profit, high-quality education for the masses by building multiple schools and colleges.
When Chhabria is not pursuing his dream for Indian education, he savors time with his grandchildren and his Sunday Indian vocal music lessons.
On his 78th birthday last March, he released his autobiography, "There's No Such Thing As a Self-Made Man". This is an inspiring and motivational book for all of us to read as it shows how hard work and integrity bring about success.
|Awards and Honors.|
|1.||A leading Indian entrepreneur Prahlad Chhabria, has been honoured at the prestigious Institute of Directors in London with a silver platter in recognition of his contribution to 'entrepreneurship'|
|2.||Received the Sucessful Businessman of the year National Award from Mr. Sharad Pawar.|
|3.||Honoured outstanding Citizens Award-Sindhi chamber of commerce|
|4.||The chabria brothers received an award from Chandrakant Kirloskar in 1970.|
|5.||Pune's Pride for Excellence in the Corporate World" by Residency Club|
|6.||The "Udyog Ratna Award" by the Delhi Telugu Academy|
|7.||He has been conferred the "Pimpri Chinchwad Bhushan Award" in recognition of his meritorious work in the industry|
|8.||Chairman of the UK-India Business Council Lord Karan Bilimoria presented the silver platter at a function organized to celebrate the launch of Chhabria's autobiography 'There's no such thing as self-made man', a fascinating book depicting his rise from humble beginnings to Chairman of a leading Indian business enterprise.|
|9.||"He is an example to us all for how hard work, integrity and customer service will bring success," Vaz said|
|10.||"The importance of infrastructure development in India was identified by Chhabria well before most others," Lord Bilimoria said|
|11.||This man's quiet approach reflects a relentless focus on the important tasks on hand. Further, his model that growth comes from the grass roots and relies upon the team, not I, but we, are lessons for business success worldwide said Srichand Hinduja|
|Quotes by Prahlad|
|1.||Poverty, luck and lack of contacts are merely constraints people carry in their minds. If you start with a positive attitude, half the job is done|
|2.||Those who are enlightened find the world illuminated|