Billionaire Chandaria: How I ended up with only three trousers, a pair of underwear

This is the story of a man married to a woman, he says, is irresponsible. According to the dejected man, his wife does not know how to perform kitchen chores. To add insults to injuries, she doesn’t want to get pregnant. What should he do? Listen to the panel and see how the man is advised.

Changing modern-day photography: He used only Sh25k to start own company which also employs 

Life is based on choices, choices that you deliberately have to make them on your own, because it is from this very choices that your living is based upon. 

It is also important to understand that not everyone will understand your pursuit and vision at the start level, but as you continue to conquer and endure challenges, they then will see the need for your frantic efforts to be different in following your passion.

Modan Photography was birth from such a mindset, one that the entrepreneur, Moses Odanga, found to be inspiring. Here is his story.

Before his retirement, Manilal Premchand Chandaria led the Comcraft Group of Companies, a conglomerate with annual returns of Sh200 billion. The 90-year-old billionaire sat down for tea with David Odongo
If I gave you Sh1,000 right now, what would you do with it?

Mmh…1,000. Today I went to shave and spent Sh500 at the barber shop, then I tipped him Sh100. I then paid Sh50 for parking. Sh650 just gone like that.

But money should never be a priority. It’s what you do with it that makes a difference. Use the money to do some good. Bring a smile to someone’s face, even if you can’t take away their pain, give them a relief, or a reason to smile.

Why do you spend your money on education and health?

Apart from education and good health, what else is important? With good health, you can go to school, and when you get an education, you start thinking beyond your nose, and education opens a lot of doors.

Mother Teresa one day walked into your home uninvited and rang your door bell. Tell us about it.

My daughter Preeti, after finishing school, had nothing to do, and she couldn’t join the family business. So I asked her to go do some charity work at a construction site that Mother Teresa was building in the slums for less privileged children.

She went there and volunteered for about a year. A few years later, 

Mother Teresa was leaving the US ambassador’s residence, and there was a sign with my name on my gate. She saw the name because my house is right opposite the ambassador’s residence, walked right in and rang the bell.

My wife answered and Mother Teresa asked her if this was Preeti Chandaria’s home. My daughter wasn’t home, so Mother Teresa asked her to get a picture of Preeti so that she could bless it. She then came to our home and blessed it. Such a great soul and humble person.
Which other world leader have you met who awed you?

Mandela, Gandhi and Dalai Lama. I met Mandela at the opening of the Pan African Parliament and I still remember what he said: “I can have no poison for those who imprisoned me, because even though I am free, if I have bitterness towards them, then my body will be free and my mind will still be in prison.”

I admire Gandhi a lot…Gandhi led a campaign called QuitIndia. He wanted the colonisers to leave India. So he initiated an economic boycott of products that weren’t Indian made or products made using technology that didn’t originate from India. And for my sacrifice, I only had three trousers, three shirts, a pair of underwear and one pair of sandals on campus.

Do we have such leaders in Kenya? Leaders who can inspire?

Yes. We have a lot of potential in Kenyan leaders, only that potential can be used positively or negatively.

Your company is now 100 years old. Your business has seen two world wars, the 2008 economic crunch and several coups and the great depression, but your company is still running. What’s your secret?

First, it’s not my company. It’s a family-owned business where everyone has responsibilities. 

Second, no one should assume that it was easy. We have lost assets, we’ve been driven out of some markets.