From 500 rupees in pocket to become a billionaire, story inside

Industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani. Express archive photo

The story of Dhirubhai Ambani is a rag to riches story who founded Reliance in Mumbai in the year 1957. Who doesn’t know the name Reliance today? But do you know, the story of a man with INR 500 in the pocket who turned out to be country’s richest man?

Dhirajlal “Dhirubhai” Hirachand Ambani (28 December 1932 – 6 July 2002) was an Indian business tycoon who founded Reliance Industries in Bombay with his cousin. He appeared in The Sunday Times top 50 businessmen in Asia. Ambani took Reliance Industries public in 1977 and by 2002, the combined fortune of the family was $6 billion.

Ambani had a humble beginning and he was not from an affluent background. He moved to Yemen at 16 years of age where he worked as a simple clerk. In 1957, Dhirubhai arrived in Mumbai after spending 8 years in Aden (Yemen) and he had only Rs 500 in his pocket. He took shelter in a local chawl in Mumbai where he stayed with his wife and children.  Now Rs 500 wasn’t a princely sum even back then but it had value and it allowed Dhirubhai to take his first steps in the world of business. He set up the business in partnership with Champaklal Damani from whom he split in 1965.

Dhirubhai started his first textile mill at Ahmedabad and launched the brand “Vimal”. He later diversified into petrochemicals and sectors like Telecommunications, Information Technology, Energy, Power, Retail, Textiles, Capital Markets and Logistics.

Dhirubhai showed he was street smart and a nose for profit early. While working in Aden, he spotted that local coins had a face value less than the value of the silver from which they were made. So he bought every coin he could, melted them down and pocketed the difference.

Dhirubhai Ambani died on 6 July 2002. In 2016, He was honored posthumously with the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honor for his contributions in trade and industry.

Dhirubhai Ambani’s success story is an example of a great man who started from scratch, followed his dream and made it true. It is the story of a man’s journey who rose against all adversities and battled all odds. His story is an inspiration for thousands across the country who lost all hopes and paved their way to suicidal paths.

A Hindi film said to be loosely inspired by the life of Dhirubhai Ambani was released on 12 January 2007. Guru, directed by filmmaker Mani Ratnam, cinematography by Rajiv Menon and music by A.R.Rahman shows the struggle of a man striving to make his mark in the Indian business world with a fictional Shakti Group of Industries.



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