Indian social worker in UAE saves nearly 300 debt-ridden expats in 50 years

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Dubai - Shamsudheen said he got his savings habit from his mother, whom he calls his 'guru'.

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Fri 7 Aug 2020, 3:04 AM

Last updated: Fri 7 Aug 2020, 2:22 PM

Indian expat KV Shamsudheen was a financial expert when he arrived in the UAE 50 years ago - but for nearly 300 expatriates who were once trapped in debt, he was a saviour.
Shamsudheen, a businessman, philanthropist and financial advisor, recently marked his 50th year in the country with endless thank-yous from expats he has helped through the years. The community, mostly Indians, hosted an online thanksgiving that was streamed on YouTube.

"I am fortunate to live in a country like the UAE, which is home to nearly 200 nationalities. It is the most secure and peaceful place in the planet, a country of compassion and tolerance, and a harmonious meeting place of all religions in the world," said Shamsudheen.

During the virtual event, Emirati columnist and researcher Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi; Indian businessman and philanthropist C J George; and Dr Azad Moopen, chairman of Aster DM Healthcare, all praised Shamsudheen for his contributions towards the financial and social growth of the UAE.

The social worker was also the founder and director of Barjeel Geojit Securities LLC, and founder and chairman of Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, an NGO registered in India, working for the financial education and welfare of non-resident Indians (NRIs).

Besides his successful career, Shamsudheen has been known as the go-to expert of people who had been stuck in debt.

"He has actually saved nearly 300 debt-ridden expats of different nationalities from the brink of suicide," said Indian expats at the virtual thanksgiving. The people Shamsudheen has mentored now run successful businesses and are completely debt-free.
Humble beginnings
A financial expert with scholastic knowledge in management, he arrived in the UAE on July 17, 1970, on board a ship called MV Sardana.
"The UAE was called the 'Trucial States' when I first got here in 1970. The ship was parked several kilometres away off the coast, and I reached land on a small dinghy," Shamsudheen told Khaleej Times as he spoke about his life journey.
After working in the defence ministry for a while, he realised several Indian expatriates were facing financial issues because they did not have any habit of saving money. The stories he was hearing about were way different from the ones he grew up with. Shamsudheen said he got his savings habit from his mother, whom he calls his 'guru'. "I began saving when I turned 13 and I became a member of the Bharat Sevak Samaj, a life savings scheme, with Rs10 my mother gave me. That Rs10 became my life savings capital," he explained. Shamsudheen would save money by walking to the school instead of taking the bus.
Resolving issues of NRIs
Coming from a family of NRIs, his father worked in Sri Lanka and was well-acquainted with the expat lifestyle. "I grew up listening to their discussions about the challenges and insecurities that our people faced in other countries," he said.

"My ambition to set up a trustworthy brokerage house in the UAE was materialised when Barjeel Geojit Financial Services LLC was born in the year 2001."

Today, the company has grown to a successful investment house with over 200,000 investors. In the same year, Shamsudheen opened Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, a registered NGO in India. "Since then, I have counselled countless NRIs on the importance of having a systematic investment plan," he said.
An advocate of change

Throughout his career in the UAE, KV Shamsudheen has challenged several economic and welfare reforms made by Indian government bodies, which he believed would have a negative impact on NRIs. His tireless efforts have reversed reforms relating to the Indian passport, the Aadhar card, the PAN card, and NRI voting rights.

Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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