Net worth at $1b; one of 20 notable newcomers
KATHMANDU, March 5: Binod Chaudhary has become the first Nepali to be enrolled in Forbes´ global list of billionaires, with a net worth said to be at US$1 billion.
Fifty-seven-year-old Chaudhary, who joined the family business at the age of 18, and his family are listed as world´s 1,342nd richest and termed the richest in Nepal by Forbes, the American business magazine which publishes a billionaires´ list every year.
Chaudhary and his family share their global billionaire ranking with 84 other individuals who have also been ranked 1,342nd richest on Earth.
Chaudhary and his family are also among three South Asians - including MA Yusuff Ali ($1.5 billion) and Ranjan Pai ($1.3 billion) of India - included in the Forbes list of 20 ´Notable Newcomers´.
With this entry, Nepal, which used to be known for the Himalayas, Lumbini, Gurkhas and Sherpas, is expected to blip on the international business radar as well.
In a twitter update, Chaudhary said it was a “rare honor and recognition for a non-Indian South Asian”.
“We (are) humbled (and) take this as an honor for Nepal. Nepal will now be known in the global corporate sector,” twitted Chaudhary, who recently published his biography.
He later told Republica: “This will propel foreigners to look at Nepal with an entirely different view and pave the way for the country to gain more dignity.”
Chaudhary is Nepal´s first billionaire but built most of his fortune 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.
Chaudhary´s grandfather migrated to Nepal from Rajasthan of India as an assistant of a Marwari trader, his biography says. His father later opened the first department store in Nepal. Today, Chaudhary operates hotels in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the US. He has also set up three Wai Wai noodles factories in Sikkim, Assam and Uttarakhand of India, apart from Nepal. Chaudhary Group, a conglomerate, is meanwhile involved in various businesses from electronics and education to trading.
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.
“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.”