July 6, 2021

“Hardik, around 35 years ago, I was in Goa to sell gemstones and finalise a few business deals.”

On the dining table, dad was sharing an incident from his 35-year-old business trip to Goa.

“I went with my friend-cum-business partner. We booked a room in a hotel, kept our luggage in the room, and came downstairs to explore the city,” dad continued, “I always liked to talk to nearby pan or tea stall vendors and enquire about the city in general.”

“I said namaste, Kaise hai…to the pan vendor. But before I could even finish my sentence, the pan vendor spoke, ‘Are you a Marwari?’,” dad said.

“Dad, how could he identify that you belong to Rajasthan?” I curiously asked.

Dad told, “He also belonged to Rajasthan. People belonging to a particular area or region can instantly identify other people from the same region. If you go outside your state and meet other Rajasthanis, they’ll identify you. The same goes true when you go outside India or Asia.”

“Dad, what happened next?”

“I told him that I belonged to Jaipur. He belonged to Sikar but a few of his relatives were living in Jaipur. He was happy to talk to two people from his own state,” dad continued, “but then he said something unexpected.”

“Unexpected? What did he say?” I was on the edge of my chair now.

“He told us to vacate the hotel as soon as possible. Since Goa was a hot destination for illegal importing and smuggling, the police would use this opportunity to blackmail the businessmen. In the night, the police would do a raid at the hotel, seize all the stock and cash, and ask the businessmen to either give a bribe or get arrested. He told us that since we were Marwaris, he couldn’t see us in any problem in unknown territory.”

“Dad, did you trust him? What happened next?” I asked.

“Son, Marwaris won’t ever lie to other Marwaris. We trusted him and shifted to basa (a co-operative hostel run by a local Marwari merchant). The next day, in the morning, I learnt that a businessman residing in the nearby room of our previous hotel was arrested on the charges of smuggling.”

Dad continued, “Hardik, Marwaris are the most successful business community of India because we discovered the power of close community long ago. Marwaris always help each other, form a closed family-like community, and support their community members during highs and lows. That’s how we all grow together.”

True enough! One of the most successful and wealthiest business communities in India, Marwaris dominate India’s economy and enjoys a pre-eminent position in the business world. Marwaris are known not just in India but all over the world for their business acumen. Only a Marwari businessman can make money out of nothing and accumulate wealth, the

Who are called Marwaris?

People who originated/ originate from the Rajasthan state are called Marwaris. Initially, people from the Marwar area (Jodhpur and other southwest and central areas of Rajasthan), who migrated to Kolkata for doing business and trade, were called “Marwaris” in the Eastern part of India. They broke the British monopoly in the Jute industry after World War I, later entered other sectors, such as cotton and sugar, and dominated the Indian private industry scenario.

What makes Marwaris different from other business communities?

Marwaris can adapt to any language or culture and are flexible in adopting change and evolving themselves.

In today’s business world, networking skills, financial acumen, and risk-taking ability are considered vital to run a successful business or a startup. However, Marwaris have always relied on forming a close-knit community, even before the term “networking” was discovered as a verb.

When you dig deeper, you will find not one, not two, not three but multiple internal and external factors that have embodied entrepreneurship skills in every Marwari.

Close ties to family members

Marwaris take “family” in the “family-owned businesses” seriously. At major decision-making positions in a company, close family members, who are trustworthy, are hired. Marwari businessmen don’t hesitate in hiring distant cousins and relatives in their companies because of the strong traditional values and culture.

Lowest cost model

Marwaris are infamously called “money misers” or “kanjus” by their friends and other people. However, the skill of spending money very wisely and avoiding any unnecessary expenses has converted the Marwari businesses into profitable ventures. Marwari-owned businesses keep the operational costs much lower than the industry average which enables them to survive when the going gets tough.

Learning from childhood

About Marwaris, everyone says and accepts:

“A Marwari child learn the basics of entrepreneurship and business in his mother’s womb.”

In Marwari families, finance, sales, customers, business, etc., terms are discussed every day at least once. From an early age, children learn the nitty-gritty of business as they closely observe their family members and relatives.

Entrepreneurship is encouraged. Also, even if a family is well stable, children are taught the value of money. Parents and other family members push children to start saving even their pocket money.

Enormous risk appetite

Few business communities are as courageous as Marwaris in taking calculating risks (sometimes even blind risks), trusting their gut feeling, and making decisions faster than their competitors. Marwari businessmen never hesitate in making tough decisions or expanding their businesses with the help of partnerships and collaborations.

Rotation instead of profit

Would you prefer to sell 10 products at Rs 48 each? Or 16 products at Rs 40 each? Ask this question to any Marwari businessman, he would always prefer the second option i.e. 16 products at Rs 40 each.

When you sell a product to 10 different customers, you might earn more profit with fewer efforts. But then you have reached only 10 new customers. Whereas, for finding 16 different customers, you might have to make more effort. But then you’re reaching 16 new people who will buy from you in the future as well.

Marwari businessmen always prefer rotation over profit. Hence, they don’t even hesitate in offering massive discounts and earning just a little margin over the cost, because they know that a happy customer would always come back with 5 new customers.

As long as the rotation is going on, the fixed costs will get covered, ensuring that there is no loss, even if there is no profit.

Employees-first policy

In Marwaris-owned businesses, employees are treated like family members. The owners consider employees’ happiness, sorrows and problems as their own, and go one step ahead to become a support system to each employee’s family. That’s the main reason why most employees have been working with one organization faithfully for the last 10-15-20-25 years.

The owners reward employees’ loyalty by taking care of their families, extending support during tough situations, and taking ownership of children’s education and their marriage.

Extra efforts for bohni

Marwari traders are always committed to bohni (the first sale of the day) as they believe that it will bring good luck and more sales later in the day. Sellers prefer to keep this sale on a cash-only basis (no credit) and try to ensure that the first customer who comes to the shop doesn’t return empty-handed. Hence, even if a seller has to reduce the selling price, he wouldn’t hesitate in offering a discount so that the customer buys it quickly and pays in cash.

Bottom Line

Thomas Timberg, a Harvard Graduate, researched the Marwari community and said, “Joint family system, a credit network across the country, and willingness to speculate has been the main reason behind the immense success that Marwari businesses enjoy.”

In every Marwari family, the factors that I discussed above are incorporated in the daily life schedule which makes entrepreneurship a naturally preferred career choice.

Proud to be a Marwari!

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