From poverty to prosperity

Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar
Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar

Published: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 9:00 AM

About 28 years ago, when I first got involved with our small business in Dubai, I was naive and a novice. I had come to Dubai with a childish dream to become rich instantly. I was not aware of the language, lifestyle and culture here. Besides, I had an inferiority complex of being average in everything. Previously I had failed five times in mathematics in my matriculation examination, and since then, the fear of education and highly educated people have been gripping my mind. When such people started a conversation in their polished English, I always felt tense, insecure and afraid to respond to them.

My fear got abated when I met many super-rich and successful businessmen. The strange thing that puzzled me was that most of them were not even literate and had left their education. Despite being masters of their businesses, some of them couldn’t even write their signature on the cheque. On the other hand, the people working under them were highly educated. I witnessed an example where the business owner was a school dropout, and his employees would mock him for his illiteracy behind his back. I would visit his office to collect the payment. There he would make me write the details on the cheque myself, insist I read it aloud and then only make a signature. One day I asked him why he couldn’t complete his education, and he told me his story.

He was the elder child in his family. During his childhood days, he lost his father, who was a labourer on a construction site due to an accident. His mother was illiterate and began to do housework in the neighbouring community. To help his mother with the family errands, he left his school and started working in a warehouse. There he would carry the heavy jute bags on his back. Later, he came to know that he could get a profit if he sold the empty jute bags. So he began repairing the worn out jute bags with a needle and thread, making them usable again and then selling them to the traders in bulk quantity. He had nothing except strong willpower and hard work. He kept searching for opportunities. When Dubai was in the initial development stages, this person came here as a labourer. When he observed that the residents needed a doorstep delivery of milk pouches every day, he left his job and started a small business as a milk supplier. He understood the needs of the market and started various doorstep services, which fetched him a good fortune. Within a decade, he became a super-rich businessman with his own company. He told me, “Entrepreneurial skills are something you can learn better in the open world than from schools or books.”

As author T.H. White aptly said, 'Education experiences, and the essence of experience is self-reliance'.

Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar is the chairman and managing director of Al Adil Trading

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