Binod Chaudhary: First Nepali on FORBES Billionaires List

It is always great to see people from Nepal progressing so well. Binod Chaudhary, 57, owner and chairman of the Cinnovation/Chaudhary Group has made it to FORBES Billionaires List for this year with a net worth of $1 Billion as of March, 2013.

This world has lots of people with lots of money and he share his global billionaire ranking with 84 other individuals who have also been ranked 1,342nd richest on Earth.

He has interests in banking, foods (his company makes Nepalese favourite instant noddle and mine too, Wai Wai), cement, real estate, hotels, power, retail, electronics.

Mr. Chaudhary takes pride in his success in the noodles business, particularly with ‘WaiWai’. The brand has now spread wings to 35 countries with an annual production of a billion packets.

In a twitter update, Chaudhary said it was a “rare honour and recognition for a non-Indian South Asian”.

“We (are) humbled (and) take this as an honour for Nepal. Nepal will now be known in the global corporate sector,” twitted Chaudhary, who recently published his biography.

Here is some information about him I found in internet.

Mr. Chaudhary is Nepal´s first billionaire but built most of his fortunes are overseas, said Forbes, which in 2008 valuated his wealth at over $500 million. “His Cinnovation/Chaudhary Group, owns among much else, popular instant noodle brand Wai Wai, a controlling stake in Nepal´s Nabil Bank and a string of luxury hotels with India´s Taj hotel chain.”

Building this empire, however, was not an easy task, Chaudhary said. “This journey began with my grandfather´s decision to migrate to Nepal and 40 years of my persistent hard work,” he said.

His grandfather, a textile trader from Rajasthan, migrated to Nepal in the 19th century. He opened a small textile store that used to supply goods to the erstwhile rulers. Chaudhary’s father, converted that into Arun Emporium, Nepal’s first department store. The eldest of 3 siblings, Chaudhary joined the business at age 18, giving up his plan to study accounting in India when his father developed a heart ailment. The group had 400 people then versus 7,500 today.

A family division gave Chaudhary the freedom to pursue his own ambitions. Seeking expansion, he created Cinnovation through which he acquired overseas assets. Though scandals have dogged Chaudhary as he has flowered, he was also able to get a controlling interest in Nepal’s Nabil Bank .

A fitness fanatic, Chaudhary goes trekking in the Himalayas every year to clear his head. He and wife Sarika also regularly visit their health farm in the Philippines.

Currently, Nirvana, his eldest son, handles business operations in Nepal. Another son, Varun, oversees businesses in Dubai and India, while Rahul looks over businesses in Singapore and India.

“It is a proud moment not only for me, but for all my corporate friends and Nepali people. Nepal’s corporate sector has now come forward in the global arena. It has raised our self-esteem,” said Chaudhary.

“All this wouldn´t have been possible without the efforts of two of my sons, who are non-resident Nepalis,” Chaudhary told Republica, rebuking the government ban on overseas investment by Nepalis.

“The government should make changes to its policies if it wants to give birth to more Binod Chaudharys. I do not want potential and energetic entrepreneurs to struggle like I did.”

Here is an interview he gave to myrepublica in Jan 2013.

Not only am I doing well professionally, I’m also the world’s best husband. My wife will vouch for that,” says Binod Chaudhary, the man behind the successful Chaudhary Group, the biggest conglomerate in Nepal.

Born in April 1955, Binod started business from an early age. He expanded his family business and opened a disco before launching a music album and making movies. Then came Wai-Wai, and in the years that followed, one of Nepal’s largest companies was born. With that, Binod became a force to be reckoned with.

When the late King Birendra visited his home after a trip to the Wai-Wai factory, he had pulled Binod aside and said in a hushed whisper that Binod was on his way to becoming an icon everyone would soon be after.

Today, Binod is easily the most popular businessman in Nepal and has many, many accolades to his name. From President of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries to Member of the Constituent Assembly, the list of positions he has held is indeed long.

Photo: Chanda Shekhar Karki

But there is more of him than just titles. He is a charmer and a people’s person. His conduct and effervescent smile have won the confidence of his staffs and public alike. His easy way of instantly connecting with people has always made him an admired public figure.

As he continues to create ripples in the corporate world, there seems to be something else on his mind presently. Binod is excited about his soon-to-be-launched autobiography that has been published by Nepa-laya and penned by Sudip Shrestha.

The Week caught up with the business tycoon to talk about his upcoming book and everything else but business.

Why did you decide to tell your story?

Nepa-laya had been approaching me for quite a while but I kept putting it off. They said they would provide me with a journalist and everything would be taken care of. I had mixed feelings about it initially but I had a lot of respect for this publication house, looking at their past work, so I eventually gave in. I’ve always been a public figure and my life’s been an open book. There’s no dimension of my life that hasn’t been talked or written about. Coming up with a book was just taking it to the next level. I did think it was an unnecessary headache but I decided to go ahead with it.

How was the experience of having a writer as your shadow throughout your book writing journey?

Initially, I was skeptical when they assigned Sudip Shrestha. Generally, I have a very good relationship with the media but I didn’t know Sudip all that well. I didn’t know how my words would be interpreted. Also the fact that I didn’t have much control over what he would eventually write was worrisome. But we went on a ten-day trek to Annapurna and he gradually won my trust, and confiding in him then became easy. Our relationship evolved over the five years it took to write the book, and I think he got to know me inside out. I’m very happy with the way the book has turned out.

How did it feel telling your story?

Writing an autobiography is reliving your life to a certain extent. I had forgotten a lot of things that had happened in the past. During the process of writing, long forgotten situations and incidents resurfaced that compelled me to probe my memory further. I remembered friends and people I’ve lost touch with. To be living life once again after 57 years is nostalgic but immensely satisfying. The process of narrating my story was effortless for me because I had made up my mind that I was going to be ruthlessly candid. Also, when I developed confidence in Sudip and could trust him one hundred percent, it was all a breeze. I just had to be a storyteller and leave the narration bits to him.

Are you scared of the repercussions now that you’ve come out with a bare-it-all account of your life?

I have absolutely no regrets about anything that’s happened in my life. That’s why I decided to tell my story in the first place. But now, when I read bits and pieces of the book, I get goose bumps sometimes. While narrating my story, I did it without a thought. I’ve mentioned a lot of well-known names. It’s going to offend and annoy a lot of people. Many will be jealous. Many will interpret my words in their own ways and will try to read between the lines and scrutinize me. I wouldn’t say I’m nervous because I’m a fairly strong man; but yes, I’m a bit anxious and excited.

Is there any particular incident you wish you hadn’t mentioned?

My life’s been full of ups and downs and challenges, so there are many incidents that, now in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t disclosed. But if I had started filtering out incidents, then this book wouldn’t have been written. I also saw and felt no need to hide anything. All the experiences that I’ve had have shaped me into what I’m today, and I’m proud of who I’ve become, despite the odds being stacked against me. I’ve been one hundred percent honest and that was a conscious decision I made. So I don’t regret mentioning anything that’s in the book.

What are some of the instances you’ve shared in your book that aren’t public knowledge yet?

There are many instances that’ll take readers by surprise. When I was in Santiago, Chile, there was an earthquake of around 8 Richter scale. My wife and I woke up and saw the room spinning around us. Sarika was scared and started praying. She even suggested we make a run for it. But we were on the 12th floor of the hotel, so I convinced her to stay put and not get out of bed. After a while, the shaking stopped and we decided to head down. The funniest bit of this incident is that, as I was leaving the room, I saw a mineral water bottle sitting upright on the bathroom sink. Not a drop of water had been spilled. The earthquake experience changed my life. Had I died, there would be one news report and the world would move on and I would be forgotten. I learnt that if there’s anything one wants to do, there’s no better time than the present to do it.

In the course of your career, what’s the most difficult hardship you encountered, and how did you handle it?

I think turning CG (Chaudhary Group) into a multinational company was the biggest challenge in my life. For 20 years, I struggled to do so before finally being able to live my dream. The government didn’t support my initiative. For any Nepali to be an international entrepreneur, you had to be a non-resident Nepali. I wasn’t prepared to accept that. If Maggie can set up a factory in Nepal, then Wai-Wai should also be able to do so wherever it wants. The rules and policies were against it and I decided to fight it. At the cost of being crucified, I continued with that journey. Nepal’s fluid political environment and anti-business sentiments were the biggest hurdles I had to get over. I’ve talked all about it in my autobiography. I had to find innovative means to get where I wanted and I paved my own path.

What’s been your philosophy or mantra in life?

I’ve always been ambitions and have never given up on any goal I’ve set up for myself. I’ve always found a way to do things within the confines of my own limitations. Nothing has happened by fluke. I’ve been clear about what I want and everything’s been planned accordingly. The roadmap might’ve changed along the way but the destination has never fluctuated. I believe that there’s no monopoly on wisdom, so there’s no need for anyone to feel inferior and develop complexes. You might be geared up for a game of tennis but life throws you a cricket ball. You’ve to be prepared to face and stand up to those challenges. Basically, my mantra in life has been never to compromise. The most important mantra for success, I believe, is time management. Knowing and managing your priorities without mixing them up will get you places.

What’s your advice for people who want to be as successful as you?

What I’ve learnt from my life’s struggles is that even if your intentions are right, the process of achieving your goals can be tough. There’ll be people who’ll try to pull you down. But if you’re hell bent on achieving what you’ve set out to, you’ll find a way to do it. You shouldn’t make lame excuses and waste your time hounded by your own complaints. You’ve to devise your own solutions to problems. If there’s an artificial wall created to block you from reaching your goal, don’t be a fool to try and break the wall. Work your way around it and find a way to get there. Nothing’s impossible to attain as long as you’re clear and obsessed. You need to know your own strength and be clear about what you want from life. If you aren’t clear about what you want from life ten years down the line, chances are that it’ll never happen. Also, nothing’s going to be served on a silver platter; you shall have to work for it.

If you understand Nepali, watch the interview.

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6 responses to “Binod Chaudhary: First Nepali on FORBES Billionaires List

  1. I hope he does much for the people of Nepal…

  2. Nice to see Nepal getting recognition in economic world. He is true if government policies becomes more business friendly country can see more billionaires. Is he big on philanthropy?

  3. Thanks for the detailed story, I’m looking forward to his autobiography!

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