Dhirubhai Ambani Biography

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Dhirubhai Ambani Factsheet

Dhirubhai Ambani
Full NameDhirajlal Hirachand Ambani
Born on28 December 1932 ( deceased )
Place of BirthChorward, Junagadh in Gujarat
Worked forReliance Industries
Valued atUS $ 58.67 billion (2013)
Spouse-Kokilaben Ambani
ChildrenMukesh Ambani,Anil Ambani Nina Ambani, Deepti Ambani

About Dhirubhai Ambani

Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, better known as Dhirubhai Ambani, was one of India’s greatest visionaries and iconic business tycoons. He was the founder of Reliance Industries Limited (established in 1966) and contributed greatly to the company’s meteoric rise. Reliance Industries is now ranked among the world’s top 500 companies in terms of the revenue it generates. Dhirubhai Ambani also founded Reliance Capital and Reliance Power and remained a dominant figure in the textile, petroleum, power and infrastructure industries of India until his death in 2002. Dhirubhai’s rags-to-riches story remains one of the most retold legends of corporate India and is an inspiration to the youth of this nation.

Early Childhood and Education of Dhirubhai Ambani

Dhirubhai was born on 28 December 1932, into a Modh Baniya family, in Chorwad village in the district of Junagarh, Gujarat. Father Hirachand Govardhandas Ambani and mother Jamunaben Hirachand Ambani were folks of limited means and raised Dhirubhai and his four siblings – Trilochanaben, Ramnikbhai, Jasuben and Natubhai – with all what they had then. Despite being the son of a school teacher, Dhirubhai showed little interest in formal education; however, he grew up to be a hardworking, intelligent and tenacious young man. Even as a teenager, Dhirubhai showed a great deal of skill in retailing, selling oil and setting up fritters stalls, thus earning money to help his impoverished family. After completing his initial five years of education at the village school, he went to Junagarh to study further. Though not an academically brilliant student, Dhirubhai displayed exceptional leadership skills.

Dhirubhai’s confidence and organizational skills were tested when he defied the Junagarh Nawab’s ban on rallies and hoisted the Indian flag to celebrate the country’s independence. His first speech there inspired many and he became a hero for defying the police and the concerned authorities. The Nawab continued to hold off from joining the Indian Republic and Dhirubhai actively participated in the Praja Mandal protests, thus associating with patriotic rebel leaders who supported joining India. The Nawab ultimately yielded and Junagarh became a part of independent India.

Socialism and politics attracted 16-year-old Dhirubhai, who started dreaming about a new and progressive India, where industries would develop at an unprecedented rate and larger-than-life dreams of industrious young men would come true. Dhirubhai was determined to do his bit for his country and for himself. His father’s failing health and family’s financial crisis, however, forced Dhirubhai to give up his education and political interests and made him to set off to Aden to find work.

Dhirubhai Ambani's Early Career

By the time Dhirubhai reached Aden, it was one of the busiest ports in the world. At Aden, he started working as a clerk with A. Besse & Co – one of the biggest trading firms in the region. Dhirubhai made good use of this opportunity and learnt much about commodity trading, imports and exports, wholesale merchandising, marketing, and sales and distribution. He learnt about currency trading from the people of various nationalities whom he met at the port and mastered accounting, book keeping and drafting legal documents by moonlighting at a Gujarati trading firm. He soon discovered that he had a natural flair for speculative trading. In 1954, after marrying Kokilaben, Dhirubhai was sent by his employer to work in the Shell Oil Refinery that had come up in Aden. Having learnt the oil trade, Dhirubhai started to dream of owning his own refinery someday. Towards the end of the decade, when all the Indians in Aden were migrating to Britain, Dhirubhai decided to return to India and become a part of the phenomenal growth that the country had been awaiting. The implementation of the second five-year plan was underway and Dhirubhai astutely grasped the promise of industrial development and his own opportunities for growth.

Back in India, Dhirubhai found that he had very little capital to go into any purposeful business. He eschewed the idea of opening up a small grocery or cloth shop. His dreams were too big for him to be content with such humble trade. He immediately got in touch with his Arabian contacts, offering to export spices, sugar and other Indian commodities at very low prices. His margins were low; however, Dhirubhai chose to deal in bulk and as the orders started coming in, Reliance Commercial Corporation was born. Excellent service was its hallmark and trust became an important factor when people traded with Reliance.

Dhirubhai Ambani becoming Polyester Prince

Dhirubhai came to be known as a dependable and astute person. At times when he required funds, he approached Gujarati money lenders and traders with the promise of astounding interests and bonuses. He never failed in keeping his promise, absorbing the losses and sharing the profits with everyone. When he realized that commodities would not take him far, Dhirubhai decided to diversify into yarn. Dealing in textiles was a risky business as the fluctuations in prices were quite high. Dhirubhai, however, learned the tricks of the trade quickly and realized that there was more money in the business. He borrowed heavily and embarked on a journey that took him to dizzying heights.

Setting up his first textile mill in Naroda, Ahemdabad, was the biggest hurdle of his life. With other mill owners opposing the sale of Vimal, the polyester brand, Dhirubhai and his team of highly motivated sales personnel cut through the middlemen (wholesalers) and went straight to the retailers. The popularity of the fabric and the persuasiveness of Dhirubhai led a number of retailers to sell "Only Vimal". A sound marketing strategy backed up the product and all of India was soon wearing textiles that came out of the Reliance factory. He equipped his factory with the best technology that could scale up with the rise in demand.

The growth of Reliance Industries was unprecedented and of the likes that had not been imagined until then. Reliance went from a turnover of Rs. 70 crore in the mid-1970s to being a Rs. 75,000-crore empire in 2002. High finance was one of Dhirubhai's key areas of success. He raised a great deal of money by issuing six series of convertible debentures and then converting them to equity shares at a premium. Reliance later diversified into energy, power, infrastructure services, retail, capital markets, telecommunications, logistics and information technology. By the time Dhirubhai died, in 2002, his sons Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani had taken over the charge of Reliance Industries Limited and Dhirubhai had become a national hero.

Last Updated on January 17th, 2019