Born on December 28, 1932, in a small town known as Chorwad in Junagadh (Present day Gujarat), Dhirubhai Ambani had a very modest childhood. His father, Hirachand Ambani was a schoolteacher. You can very well imagine what a schoolteacher could earn in those times.
Junagadh is famous for the Girnar Temple, situated at a great height on top of the mountains. Many devotees go to this temple throughout the year. Dhirubhai used to supplement his father’s income by selling ‘Pakoras’, an Indian snack item made or onions and other vegetables, to these devotees.
Not satisfied with this life, Dhirubhai moved to Aden in Yemen to work with A. Besse and Company for a monthly salary of 5 dollars. This amount was a huge amount in those days. Dhirubhai did not have an academic background, but he had a resourceful mind. He was around 16 years of age at that time. By sheer dint of hard work, Dhirubhai impressed A. Besse and Company who promoted him to the post of a Manager at the Company’s filling station in Aden.
A typical Gujarati person, Dhirubhai was very frugal. He managed to save some money. With this money, he came back to India and started the Reliance Commercial Corporation in 1962 with an initial capital of 230 dollars. The first office of this partnership firm was in a crowded area in Mumbai, Masjid Bunder. It was a 350-square foot room with a table and three chairs.
Dhirubhai had a great knack of taking calculated risks. His partner, Champaklal Damani did not approve of this risk taking and hence broke the partnership leaving Dhirubhai to fend for himself. Maybe, this was a blessing in disguise for Dhirubhai.
This marked an upward rise in Dhirubhai’s fortunes. From that moment, he did not look back. His famous brand of clothing, Vimal, became famous all over the world. Dhirubhai had a shrewd business brain. He knew that every business would reach a stagnation point. Hence, he diversified his options in practically every field of activity such as Petrochemicals, Communications, Electricity transmission, etc.
Today who does not know the brand ‘Reliance’? Today, he is no more, but his sons Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani are carrying the march forward with businesses of their own. When Dhirubhai Ambani expired, he was the richest Indian at that time. That must be one hell of a journey from selling Pakoras to becoming the richest man in India.