Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, better known as ‘Dhirubhai’ is a name known to every Indian, for the kind of success he reached and helped others reach it too. The founder of India’s largest private firm, Reliance Industries, did not start big. His life was like many of ours or maybe even worse. But, what he made out of this life is what he is remembered for today.
“If you’re born poor, it’s not your fault, but if you die poor, it’s your fault.”
These were the words he stood by and proved that not only his words, but also hid deeds were determined to change the failure to success.
Dhirubhai Ambani’s life story is an inspiration for millions of people who want to make it big in their life. His story is proof that no matter where you start if you have what it takes to make it big, there is nothing in this world that can stop you from accomplishing your goals.
Dhirubhai Ambani was a rare kind of genius, who started off by selling Bhajias in fairs and made it all the way to the list of world’s wealthiest people. He dared to dream, and it took more than just the willingness to dream big, to become what he and his company are today.
The Beginning of Dhirubhai Ambani’s Life
Dhirubhai Ambani was born to Hirachand Gordhanbhai Ambani, on 28 December 1932. Born to a lower-middle-class family, he was aware of the insufficiencies of his family. Dhirubhai only studied until his tenth class, after which he dropped out to join his brother Ramniklal to work in Aden, Yemen. He was 16 when he started working in Yemen as a gas station attendant, at the monthly wage of Rs. 300.
During the 1950’s, while working at Yemen, Dhirubhai managed to make a few lakhs by melting the Rial currency coins into pure silver and selling it off to the bullion traders in London. Also, during this time, he got married to Kokilaben.
Ten years later, in 1958, he returned to India, with Rs. 500 in his pocket. He took shelter in a one-room chawl in Mumbai, along with his wife and a child. For nearly eight years, he traded in different kinds of products ranging from spices and fabrics. And in the 1960’s, the Reliance Commercial Corporation was set up.
Reliance Commercial Corporation
Dhirubhai Ambani, in the 1960s, founded Reliance Commercial Corporation in partnership with his cousin Champaklal Damani. The office was set up in a 350 Sq. Ft. Room, at Masjid Bunder. Initially, the company traded in the export and import of spices and cloth. Later, in 1965, the partnership between the two cousins ended, as both of these men had different takes towards the conduct of their business. From then on, Dhirubhai continued on his own.
Dhirubhai sensed a great opportunity of business profits in the textiles markets and started his textile spinning mill named ‘Vimal’ at Naroda in Ahmadabad. This was in the year 1966. The same year, Reliance Commercial Corporation was incorporated in Maharashtra with the name
Reliance Textiles Industries Pvt Ltd.
By the year 1977, Reliance Textiles had an annual turnover of Rs. 70 Crore and that is the year when the company went public. It held its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 1977, and this issue was supposedly oversubscribed by seven times. Most of these equity capital holders were from small towns.
In those times, only a small group of influential leaders were participating in the Indian Capital markets. But, Dhirubhai Ambani managed to raise 2.8 million equity shares by selling his shares at Rs. 10 each at par, to people from small towns. This was undoubtedly a courageous move. Only his promise of a substantial return convinced 58,000 middle-class men to invest in his then unknown company.
This resulted in another record being made when more than 35,000 shareholders attended the company’s annual shareholder meeting. And this number was so huge, that the meeting took place in a stadium, as no hall in Mumbai could suffice such a massive crowd.
Since then, Dhirubhai Ambani started promoting his brand ‘Vimal’ even more significantly. Franchise retail outlets were started, and as many as 100 franchise stores were inaugurated in a single day, a report claims. This unit of textile production was certified as ‘excellent’ by the developed countries also.
In 1979, a company named Sidhpur Mills was merged with Reliance. The company went on expanding its polyester yarn business. And, in 1985, Reliance Textiles Industries Ltd was named Reliance Industries Ltd. By the year 1992, the company was producing around 145,000 tonnes per annum of polyester yarn, at its installed unit, making yet another record.
In 1992, the Hazira petrochemical plant was started, and since that time, the company assertively turned towards oil refining, petrochemicals, and telecommunication.
The company that started off with a mere investment of Rs. 50,000 had turned into a company worth Rs. 75,000 crore. Reliance became the first Indian company to make its way to the list of Fortune 500 companies.
He wrote history by taking Reliance Industries from grass-root levels to being the largest private sector firm of India.
Dhirubhai Ambani’s work resulted in many ‘firsts’ happening in the country, and one of the firsts was bringing back convertible debentures to the market. Ambani was always able to get the politicians to favour him, and this was not an easy thing to do back then.
Dhirubhai once said, “We cannot change our rulers, but we can change the way they rule us.”
Apart from his unmatched technological and financial skills, his consummate skills were also unparalleled. He could win friends and influence them, and this worked in his favours.
He convinced the government of the benefits of convertible debentures and issued up to six series of debentures. This resulted in raising massive sums of money.
These convertible debentures were providing a fixed rate of interest to its investors. And later, upon converting them to shares, the investors were also assured a great capital appreciation.
In the year 1985, Ambani received a record-breaking investment of Rs. 400 crore in a single issue. This was the result of announcing that the debentures would be convertible to shares at a premium.
Dhirubhai Ambani was not an ordinary businessman, and that has been proved time and again. Those who invested in his company also made millions. This was the reason Reliance Industries was a favourite in the stock market.
It took around two decades for Dhirubhai to bring Reliance from Rs. 70 crore turnovers to Rs. 75,000 crore turnovers. It was due to his perseverance and willpower that this was possible. No other private company in India, to date, has seen such tremendous growth in such a short span of time.
The Demise of Dhirubhai Ambani
Dhirubhai Ambani suffered his first stroke in February 1986 that left some part of his right body paralysed. Post this incident, Dhirubhai handed over the control of Reliance to his sons, Mukesh and Anil.
Later, in 2002, on 24th June, he was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital after he suffered his second stroke. He was in a coma for almost a week before he died on 6th July 2002.
In 2002, shortly before his demise, he made it to the list of Forbes, as the world’s 138th richest person with an estimated worth of $2.9 billion.
Reliance Industries Post-Dhirubhai Ambani’s Death
In 2004, Mukesh Ambani, in an interview stated that there were differences between him and brother Anil Ambani over the ownership of the company. Later, Reliance Industries was split into two groups, each headed by both the brothers separately. Reliance Industries Limited was led by Mukesh Ambani and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (Reliance ADA Group), directed by Anil Ambani.
In 2012, Reliance Industries secured a place in the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500 list.
As of today, Reliance Industries holds a market value of $42.9 billion and $71.7 billion in sales. The revenue earned by the company results in 2.8% of India’s total GDP. The company also contributes 8.2% of India’s total exports, a share of 8% to the tax revenue of Government of India.
Awards And Recognitions
Dhirubhai Ambani has been known for his bold and groundbreaking ways of doing business, and his strong dedication has remained unmatched. During his lifetime and later on, he received a number of awards and accolades recognising his worth as a human extraordinaire.
- Recognizing Dhirubhai Ambani’s contribution towards the chemical industry in India, The Chemtech Foundation and Chemical Engineering World awarded him with the accolade of Conferred Man of the Century Award.
- During 1996, 1998, and 2000, Dhirubhai Ambani made it the list of Power 50- the most powerful people in Asia.
- He was awarded the “Dean’s Medal” by The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, for his outstanding leadership skills in June 1998.
- FICCI (The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) named him the “Man of the 20th Century”.
- In a poll conducted by Times of India in 2000, Dhirubhai Ambani was voted the “Greatest Creator of Wealth in the Centuries.”
- He received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Corporate Excellence by the Economic Times.
- In 2011, he received the ABLF Global Asian Award at the Asian Business Leadership Forum Awards.
- In 2016, Dhirubhai Ambani was awarded the second highest civilian award of the country, Padma Vibhushan.
Some Famous Dhirubhai Ambani Quotes
Dhirubhai Ambani’s success story is undoubtedly an inspiration to thousands. Here is a list of some of dhirubhai ambani quotes to motivate you, and help you dream big, just like he did.
- “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.”
- “If you’re born poor, it’s not your fault, but if you die poor, it’s your fault.”
- “Pursue your goals even in the face of difficulties, and convert adversities into opportunities.”
- “Only when you dream it you can do it.”
- “If you work with determination and with perfection, success will follow.”
- “True entrepreneurship comes only from risk-taking.”
- “You do not require an invitation to make profits.”
While we always motivate ourselves by reading the failure stories of successful people who made it big in this world, Dhirubhai Ambani’s entire life history is a success story. There was absolutely nothing that this man feared, and nothing could possibly stop him from reaching the heights he dreamt of.
Dhirubhai never went to any business school, neither did anyone tell him how to go about doing his business. It was his determination to learn, apply and fail, and learn from failure, that kept him going. There are so many things that his life teaches us. This inspirational success story will inspire the coming generations for years together.