UAE entrepreneur awarded India’s top honour for expats

Siddharth Balachandran is the founder, executive chairman and CEO of Buimerc Corporation Ltd and an active member of the Indian community in the Emirates

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Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Tue 3 Jan 2023, 10:11 AM

Last updated: Tue 3 Jan 2023, 5:49 PM

A UAE-based entrepreneur and philanthropist who will be conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA), the highest honour for Indians living outside of the country, has said it is difficult to express the joy he feels at being awarded.

“It has given me an overwhelming feeling of inspiration to do more,” said Siddharth Balachandran, the founder, executive chairman and CEO of Buimerc Corporation Ltd. “It has infused me with energy. I think I will be accepting this award on behalf of every institution that I am associated with. It is not my win alone. I am nothing if not for the combined effort of a large number of people.”

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Balachandran, an active member of the Indian community here, is the only recipient of the award from the UAE this year. Chairman of the India Club, Dubai and patron governor of the Indian Social and Cultural Centre, Abu Dhabi, he has been at the forefront of several philanthropic activities in the country.

Setting up in Dubai

A large part of his success, Balachandran attributes it to the city of Dubai. It was in 2009 that he set up Buimerc Corporation in Jebel Ali. “I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “It was a time when Dubai was embarking on the most significant boom, and I was lucky to get into that curve. What success I could have achieved in 20 years, I was able to achieve in five years thanks to Dubai. That is the kind of influence this city has on people.”

Currently the company is headquartered at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), is the holding company of various subsidiaries operating across diversified lines of business and has significant investment portfolios in the USA and the EU.

According to Balachandran, his vision was never to build wealth. “The focus always was to build an institution that would stand the test of time,” he said. “When you build up institutions, then sustainability comes in and the team comes in. The team is the most important thing.”

Being a new entrepreneur Balachandran inevitably made mistakes. However, he says they paid off. “My errors turned into opportunities because Dubai was on a growth path,” he said. “The overarching fact is that much of my success if because of the city.”

Philanthropy

For Balachandran, philanthropy is something that balances his life. “Balance is something I believe in,” he said. “Entrepreneurship is one part of my life that creates wealth. However, unless it makes a positive impact on society, that creation of wealth doesn’t stand. I ensure that it is given away in the right way so that the creation and distribution is balanced. And I believe that the goodwill from all these institutions has played a significant role in my life”

Influence comes in many forms in Balachandran’s life. “My parents, wife and children are the first set of people who have influenced me and my life,” he said. “Apart from them, I try to take the positive from every single person that I meet, interact or am associated with. I think we all can learn so much from each other.”

A genuine fitness buff, Balachandran likes to use his downtime for staying fit. “I like to keep my mind and body active, so I have a regular gym routine that I follow.”

He also had a word of advice for young entrepreneurs. “I believe that the only virtue or skill that people need to actively work on building is humility,” he said. “People equate success with a lack of humility, but I believe that if a person hs it as one of their strengths, it can be a very powerful weapon. I encourage everyone to adopt it wholeheartedly.”

The PBSA is bestowed by the Indian President as part of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas that is held once every two years and is given to non-resident Indians (NRIs), persons of Indian origin (PIOs) or organisations established and run by such Indians, in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the country and abroad.

This year will be the 17th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and will be held over three days in Madhya Pradesh starting January 8.

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Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Tue 3 Jan 2023, 10:11 AM

Last updated: Tue 3 Jan 2023, 5:49 PM

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