Some 45 years back from today, a family was struggling to make ends meet in Paravdi village of Bhavnagar in Gujarat. The father would get a monthly salary of Rs 40 which wasn't enough to feed his five children. But their needs were humble and neighbors often showed kindness. Their expectation for a bright future was simply having enough supplies for the family to survive for a month, two would be great. It was a time when nobody imagined that one among these five kids will one day become so big and generous that fate of millions of families would improve just because of his grit and determination.
Dinesh Bhanushankar Pandya (45) has come a long way from growing up in a poverty-ridden household to becoming one of the most respected and influential social entrepreneurs of Gujarat. He lost his eyesight when things looked rosy for him but bounced back to find greater success and ambition in life. He is one of the most inspiring stories KenFolios has ever dug out for its readers so kindly read till the last and share it to help and encourage more people.
Poverty, potato, and pain
"I was in STD 3 when I visited Bhavnagar. Seeing a woman sell masala aalu on a shaky wooden stand near a busy square instantly appealed to me. This was something I could do, too!" recalls Dinesh in an interview with KenFolios. He came from a place where most people were worked in diamond cutting/ mining factories. The kids he hung out with would get enough pocket money from their parents to buy toys and candies. Selling masala aalu seemed like a perfect thing he could do to buy little things his parents couldn't afford for him. This child was a go-getter right from the very beginning.
He convinced his mother to help in preparation of the savoury dish and thus began his first stint with entrepreneurship. For the next four years he happily continued this little venture alongside his studies and then later quit it to start working as a newspaper delivery guy to make around Rs 50 a month.
All he wanted at that time was to grow up as soon as he can and try his hands on something bigger. He was always on a lookout to know more about the world and understand how money changed hands. He knew that man has the power to change his destiny if he keeps on working towards it.
I was halfway into a very gripping movie that was playing on my neighbor's TV. An advertisement played right after intermission and I went back to my home for a few minutes. When I came back I found that they had shut their doors. I was so disappointed and sad that I broke down crying. I was really into the movie. That's when my grandfather said something that I draw inspiration from even today. He said, किसी दूसरे को किसी तीसरे के घर में देखने जाने की बजाय कुछ ऐसा करो कि एक दिन दुनिया तुम्हें देखने को लालायित हो जाए (rather than watching others on someone else's television do something in life that the whole world is eager to see you)
Big dreams, teeny job
Tough times often make us question our worth and make us lose confidence in our potential. But Dinesh waded through years of hardship and kept giving in his best. He scored a handsome 90 percent in his STD 12 which was a pretty big deal a couple of decades back. But for the sake of his family he dropped the idea of studying further and started looking ways to make money. He borrowed petty funds from his friends and opened a pan shop (that didn't go a long way). He then joined a diamond factory and started filling out forms for government examinations. Soon came the news that he was selected for cashier's role in Bank of Saurashtra against a monthly pay of Rs 7,000.
A few months into the job and Dinesh had already done the calculations. This job won't pay for the house he wanted to live in and the fleet of cars he wanted to own. Restlessness gripped him and he began looking for things that can help him realize his dreams faster. He was ready to take risks and exhaust himself with hardwork and one day he spotted an advertisement in the newspapers regarding a marketing job. It did not require any investment yet promised hefty incentives. When he showed up at the mentioned address, the in-charge asked him not to waste his time. "Only a mad person will quit his government job for a marketing role." At least the man had spoken partial truth. Dinesh was certainly a kind of mad man. He asked them to train him and the day he made his first sale, he resigned from the bank.
He had aptly foreseen the opportunities that lay in front of him in marketing. Despite people's discouragement and concerns he joined the role full-time and bagged promotion after promotion based on his record breaking sales. He could sell pen, socks, calculator, you name it. Within a few months he received Rs 48,000 as bonus which gave him the courage to break the news of his shift in career to his family. Two years later, he launched his own marketing company.
Reaching at the top, losing eyesight
In 1994, he launched Ad Shops Promotions Limited from a rented house. To save on cost he would board a local train from Rajkot at 10 pm every night and reach Ahmedabad at 2 in the morning. He would then collect products and return to Rajkot by 7 am. Ditching sleep and rest, he would give the products to his sales boys in the morning and send off his team by 10 am. This went on for 6 months and his efforts bore fruits in form of 90 offices spread across all corners of India. It was a big deal and is still a great feat to achieve for any self-made entrepreneur.
Everything was right as rain but tragedy struck him and his family in 1998. An accident caused injury to his eyes and negligence in treatment destroyed his eyesight. There was nothing he could do except run from one medical expert to another only to sadly accept the fact that the damage was irreversible. All this time he spent in hospitals costed him his team and his business. All was lost and once again Dinesh was forced to start from zero. This time he couldn't even see.
Dinesh is filled with praises and gratitude for his wife Jayshri whom he calls his strongest pillar. It was she who told him that he still has everything he needs to be successful. She told him to be strong and find his strength and self-belief. She would walk and Dinesh would follow her from one door to another carrying heavy bags on his shoulders to sell bottles of phenol. He could still sell and once again our hero took a leap. He jumped to wholesale business and started approaching dealers with his products. Fortune favors the brave and within no time his network spread all across Gujarat. Well-wishers helped him in stepping into pharma sector and he began raking in lakhs of rupees every month.
Now came the time to look beyond self and start solving some problems that were plaguing the backbone of the country - our farmers. He did intensive research and meticulously launched a campaign called 'Vishmukt kheti samridhh kisaan' (poison-free farming and prosperous farmers). He tirelessly spoke to one farmer after other and informed them about the benefits of organic farming. His campaign gathered support from 5 lakh farmers who showed him the problems they faced in agriculture. A prominent among them was shortage of cowdung. Dinesh got deep into research and came back with a gamechanging product with 18 components that was purely organic and did wonders for the crops.
In 2014, he secured a loan of Rs 25 lakh which got him to set-up a manufacturing unit. His firm is now doing multi-crore turnover. His businesses are spread across 25 states today selling 90 products that are available at 35,000 outlets. His business entities are today valued at Rs 100 crore and he has also launched IPO six months back.
The man is rightly known as the miracle man of Gujarat. His motivational speeches are thrilling and his own personal story is enough to stir positivity in anyone. Dinesh says nobody here is so rich that they can buy their past and no one ever is so poor that they cannot take charge and change their tomorrow. He may have lost his eyesight but the perspective he has gained (or always had) is awfully inspiring.
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