By the time a person comes out of college, he would have a role model from the ample choice of Ambanis, Adanis, Patels…

In Gujarat, “entrepreneurship” is revered almost as a religion.

And, successful entrepreneurs are worshipped no less than gods. Literally. Just when Jasuben Pizza, whose success went viral as a star women entrepreneur after Chief Minister Narendra Modi applauded her entrepreneurial acumen in Delhi, thousands of women entrepreneurs back in the State were also patting themselves on their backs.

Meena Kaviya, 42, is one among them. The housewife-turned-entrepreneur is happy that she could set up her venture in a State that respects the skills that can earn money. She began her entrepreneurial journey in 1999 with a modest 25 sq ft area in Ahmedabad, where she employed 10 workers to start a shirt making unit. With a start-up capital of Rs 15 lakh, which she claims she borrowed from family, she has today a Rs 10-crore firm with a total workforce of 150 people. “The State gives you equal opportunity to walk alongside men to define your own business. And they respect you as an entrepreneur,” says Kaviya.

Her firm, Ayma Creations, manufactures shirts for major brands such as Arvind, Madura Garments, ITC, Tiffosi and Throttleman (both Portuguese brands), Lifestyle, Reliance, Pantaloons, Globus, Shoppers Stop and Westside. What’s more, she plans to take her company public next year. “Our new unit is equipped with the latest technology that will manufacture 50,000 shirts a month. Next on the radar is WalMart,” she exults.

This is the land where entrepreneurs have made their own fortunes with sheer hard work and dedication. The inherent spirit of adventure and the huge appetite for risk have led the Gujaratis to phenomenal success in their businesses.

Be it Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance, Karsanbhai Patel of Nirma, Gautam Adani of Adani group, Girish Patel of Paras Pharma, Jaysukh Patel of Ajanta, Khambattas of Rasna, Pankaj Patel of Zydus… They all had one ambition: Grow big. The same philosophy runs through the minds of Rajkot-based Chandubhai Virani, Chairman & MD of Balaji Wafers, who is giving Uncle Chips and Frito-Lay’s a run for their money.

His potato chips firm has grown multi-fold in the last decade. Virani recalls that his venture, which churns out revenues of Rs 800 crore today, was started with a few hundred rupees in a small canteen that served sandwich.

“All we want is to grow it to the next level and would never sell it off at any price,” says Virani. Major MNCs, considering it as a threat to their business, have consistently made offers to Virani for a buy-out.

Ahmedabad-based young entrepreneur Hemang Pandit made his fortune from a combination of astrology and technology. Leaving a corporate job, Pandit joined hands with astrologer Bejan Daruwala to kick-start an astrology portal to offer predictions. It took him 10 years to grow a Rs 10-lakh start-up into a Rs 10-crore business.

Dinesh Awasthi, Director of Entrepreneurship Development Institute, Ahmedabad, says that the entire ecosystem of Gujarati culture works around entrepreneurship. “Entrepreneurship is in their blood. No doubt in that. Gujarati children are exposed to money making businesses early on. Even in social gatherings people talk about business rather than bureaucracy, politics, or literature. By the time a person comes out of college he would have a role model in one or other successful businessman. And he would have ample choices - Ambanis, Adanis, Patels and so on...” he says.

(The author is a freelance writer.)

(This article was published on May 24, 2013)
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