Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, a true rags-to-riches tale, is unquestionably India's most enterprising entrepreneur. Dhirubhai was born in a Gujarati family and moved to Yemen at the age of 16 to work as a dispatch clerk for A. Besse & Co.
He returned to India after working in Dubai for a while and established the Reliance Commercial Corporation with a meagre capital of Rs. 15000. He founded the company with Champaklal Damani, with whom he parted ways in 1965.
Dhirubhai founded his first textile mill in Naroda, Gujarat, and launched the "Vimal" brand. Telecommunications, Information Technology, Energy, Power, Retail, Textiles, Capital Markets, and Logistics were among his later diversifications.
But before discussing his achievements, let's take a look at his early life.
Dhirubhai Ambani - EARLY LIFE
Dhirubhai Ambani was born on December 28, 1932, in Chorwad, Junagadh district, Gujarat, to Hirachand Gordhanbhai Ambani, a village school teacher from the Modh Baniya clan, and Jamnaben Ambani. He attended Bahadur Khanji School for his education. In his youth, he took part in anti-Nawab protests in Junagarh and organized several protests against the Nawab's attempts to join Pakistan after independence.
In 1948, he and his brother Ramnikbhai moved to the Yemen port of Aden to work for A. Besse and Co. He later worked for the firm, selling shell and Burmah oil products. He once made a lot of money by melting silver bullion and selling it as pure silver because he knew the value of pure silver was far higher than the bullion, which was a precursor to his financial wizardry and acumen.
His friends described him as affable yet competitive, optimistic but with a "dark side" due to his intense ambition and risk-taking. Mukesh, his first son, was born in Aden on April 19, 1957. Two years later, in 1959, another son, Anil, was born.
In 1958, he left Aden to try his hand at running his own textiles company in India.
Dhirubhai Ambani - BUSINESS IN INDIA
Ambani returned to India and co-founded "Majin" with Champaklal Damani, his second cousin, whom he had been living within Yemen. Majin was supposed to bring in polyester yarn and send spices to Yemen.
The Reliance Commercial Corporation's first office was located on Narsinatha Street in Masjid Bunder.
There was a telephone, one table, and three chairs in the 350 sq ft (33 m2) space. They had two assistants to assist them with their company at first.
Rasikbhai Meswani (his nephew), Ramnikbhai, Nathubhai (his younger brother), and two former schoolmates named Rathibhai Mucchala and Narottambhai Joshi joined him in the small office and would remain with Reliance for years. They mostly did their work in Pydhonie's streets.
Ambani and his family stayed in a two-bedroom apartment at the Jai Hind Estate in Bhuleshwar, Mumbai, during this period. Champaklal Damani and Dhirubhai Ambani ended their relationship in 1965, and Ambani went it alone. Both were thought to have different temperaments and approaches to the company. While Damani was a conservative trader who did not believe in stockpiling yarn, Ambani was a proven risk-taker who believed in accumulating yarn to boost profits. He founded Reliance Commercial Corporation in 1966, which was renamed Reliance Industries on May 8, 1973. During this time, he launched the 'Vimal' brand, which sold polyester fabrics for saris, shawls, suits, and dresses.
Dhirubhai Ambani - AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
- In 1996, 1998, and 2000, Asiaweek magazine named him to their Power 50, a list of Asia's most influential people.
- The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, awarded him the "Dean's Medal" on June 15, 1998, for setting an excellent example of leadership. The first Indian to win the Dean's Medal was Dhirubhai Ambani.
- Mumbai, November 8, 2000 - Chemtech Foundation and Chemical Engineering World awarded him the 'Man of the Century award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of India's chemical industry.
- The Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence for Lifetime Achievement Award were presented on August 10, 2001, in Mumbai.
- The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry called Dhirubhai Ambani the "Man of the Century" (FICCI).
- On December 28, 2002, India Post issued a postal stamp featuring Dhirubhai Ambani.
- At the Asian Business Leadership Forum Awards in October 2011, he was posthumously awarded the ABLF Global Asian Prize.
- In January 2016, the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second-highest civilian decoration, was bestowed upon him posthumously.
Dhirubhai Ambani - HIS DEMISE
On June 24, 2002, Ambani was admitted to Mumbai's Breach Candy Hospital after suffering a major stroke. It was his second stroke; the first had paralyzed his right hand and occurred in February 1986. He had been in a coma for more than a week and had been seen by several doctors. On July 6, 2002, he passed away.
But what happened to his empire after his sudden death? India was in shock of losing an iconic business person and an extraordinary personality, but the nation was also wondering about what will happen to his business, his legacy?
RELIANCE INDUSTRIES AFTER THE DEATH OF DHIRUBHAI AMBANI
Ambani handed over control of Reliance to his sons Mukesh and Anil after his first stroke in 1986. In an interview in November 2004, Mukesh confessed to having disagreements with Anil over ownership problems. The variations, he said, "are in the private domain." Following Dhirubhai Ambani's death, the party was divided into Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited and Anil Ambani's Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.
In 2017, the business employed over 250,000 people. Reliance Industries was one of only two Indian companies to make the Fortune 500 list of the world's largest corporations by revenue in 2012.
Dhirubhai Ambani - SOME LIFE LESSONS
You can win the world if you dare to dream big - When Dhirubhai Ambani was in school, he aspired to be financially self-sufficient, so he used to sell "Pakodas" after school.
Later, he desired to work in a foreign country, so he travelled to Aden and obtained employment there.
He wanted to do business in India, so he and his second cousin, Champaklal Damani, founded Reliance Commercial Corporation.
Because Dhirubhai Ambani dared to dream big, he was able to achieve great success.
Identify opportunities and never lose hope -
- During his business career, Dhirubhai Ambani faced several setbacks, but he never gave up hope and continued to do the right thing.
- In 1965, the relationship between Dhirubhai Ambani and his business partner, Champaklal Damani, broke down, but he did not abandon his business dreams; instead, he believed in himself and continued to move forward.
- The value of the Indian rupee increased in 1966, and as a result, the construction cost of his textile factory increased. Despite this, he did not lose hope and continued working.
- And when he first introduced his product to the market, he was met with fierce resistance from the industry's other players. He also fought bravely against all odds.
- In February 1986, he suffered a stroke that rendered his right hand paralyzed.
- So, despite numerous setbacks and problems relating to family, government, wealth, and health, Dhirubhai Ambani achieved great success.
- He took on all of the issues head-on, treating them as obstacles to be overcome.
Risk is the most prominent teacher -
- Dhirubhai Ambani was one of the most daring businessmen of his time.
- As he allowed himself to take bigger chances in life, he became more optimistic and intelligent, allowing him to develop as an individual.
- Dhirubhai Ambani had to take several risks, including leaving his country for work, losing his job to start a company, shifting the course of his business from spices to yarn, and branching out into new industries such as petrochemicals.
Mr Dhirubhai Ambani was an extraordinary man who always believed in hard work and thinking out of the box, which made him India's most successful businessman.