We, at Filmapia, had the invaluable honour of spending an entire evening with the icon, Dr. B.R Shetty and his family in his jaw-dropping, resplendent mansion in Abu Dhabi!
The story of an entrepreneur who came to the UAE with 29 dirhams and is now a Billionaire with innumerable awards (including Padmashri) and business empires across the world.
Some links to his success story:
He is a classic example of WORKING HARD and WORKING SMART. Here are a few instances:
- He came to Abu Dhabi with 29 Dhs at the age of 32 to pay off his family's loan. He lived in dirty and miserable conditions in a small room with 4 people, no proper toilet facilities
- He struggled to get a job despite attending interviews daily. This went on for months. Living in the heat of Abu Dhabi with no proper home and food was a real challenge, but he persevered.
- When he finally got a job in a pharmacy company, he saw medicine that was not being sold, just stocked and wasted. He hit upon a bright idea and decided to deliver medicine door to door. Thus he became the country's first outdoor salesman in the 1970s! People came with other commodities to him for selling. He started his earning and networking, building strong connections with people. A very smart move!
- Once he got embroiled in a lawsuit where his car was in a minor accident with a car belonging to a chef from a renowned hotel. The chef sued him for total damages. The court ordered him to pay or face jail. He arranged money with difficulty and paid off the court. But he made one extra smart move. He claimed the damaged car to be his since he had paid total damages. The court gave it to him. He sold that expensive car for 8000 Dhs and with one shot he was able to pay off his family loan in India!
- He also married without a dowry. A rarity in those days. But as luck would have it, his wife was a doctor and he was a pharmacist. Together they started their first venture, NMC (New Medical Centre) Healthcare. NMC expanded over the years and became the largest healthcare provider in the UAE. Also, the first healthcare company to be listed on the London Stock Exchange.
- Dr. Shetty set about in earnest diversification of business, that witnessed forays into a bewildering range of businesses spread over the distribution of pharmaceuticals, scientific/medical equipment, foodstuff, financial services, gold and diamond jewellery, real estate, IT, Engineering projects and services, tea estates and the hospitality industry.
- Some of his business empires, all of which he aces:
- NMC healthcare (200+ facilities, 185 hospitals in 20+ countries and still expanding). A free, AC, 200-bed maternity hospital in India. Billions more being invested in Indian healthcare as of 2019
- Finablr Plc
- UAE Exchange
- BRS Ventures
- Bank in Paris
- Multiple investments in diverse business fields
- Has pledged 50% of his wealth to the Melinda Gates Foundation
A touching moment was when he attributed his success to his wife, Dr. Chandrakumari Shetty, who worked relentlessly alongside him, 24/7. He folded his hands, did namaskaram to her and said "I could not have achieved any of this without her"
In Dr. Shetty's words "I am driven by two visions. That of my mother who wanted me to do something for the service of humanity. Secondly the vision of Sheikh Zayed, the father of Abu Dhabi who wanted to make quality and affordable healthcare accessible to everyone. My core business is healthcare. My capital was 0, only sweat and sacrifice of my wife and I since we are dedicated 24/7 to our business till date"
Dr. Shetty's words to Filmapia "Opportunities come once in a lifetime. Grab it first. Then think about whether it is good or bad. Don't be afraid of problems. If I don’t have one problem a day, it's not a good day for me. Only when you solve problems you learn. You are satisfied. Always, always keep your relationships with people"
He was offered citizenship in the UAE by Sheikh Zayed, the Father of Abu Dhabi. He was also awarded the country's highest civilian honour by Sheikh Zayed. He wears that Badge of Honour everyday.