‘At least 50pc of business value of CG will always remain in Nepal’

In just 27 years of being involved in business, Binod Chaudhary, president of Chaudhary Group, has built Nepal’s first billion-dollar business empire. His businesses include hospitality, banking, education, consumer goods, power, energy and real estate, among others and he has expanded his business empire to over a dozen countries like India, Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and the United States. Similarly, Chaudhary is also the first Nepali businessman to be ranked in the billion-dollar club of Forbes magazine. With assets worth $1.3 billion, he was ranked the 1567th wealthiest person of the world in 2017. The Himalayan Times caught up with Chaudhary to know about his successful business and future plans for CG. Excerpts:

You have been successful in developing a vast business empire that has spread to other countries too. What are the motivational factors behind becoming a successful business leader?

I never had the feeling that only big countries produce big business houses.  It is purely the question of your commitment to your profession and ability to see the opportunity. A typical difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur is that a businessman follows while an entrepreneur creates and leads. So, I have always felt that whatever you do, you have to aspire to do something big. People say that in business size matters less. However, size is relevant in any business and that is what I did when I was the president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). I always believed in ‘transformation’ and this is something that has always given me the deepest satisfaction. Similarly, the confidence and trust from my father towards me was instrumental to my success.

CG today is involved in a number of businesses. Do you have any immediate plans to diversify into any new sector?

I think that CG has more or less covered all major sectors. However, the challenge of the day is to build each of these in proportion to the expectation of the people about CG. As one has to be the best to remain the leader, the biggest challenge now is to not only maintain but enhance the brand image of CG that has been etched in the mind of people today. And for this, CG has to be the best in any business that it is involved in. The other challenge is the changing business environment. Today, the business environment is highly disruptive. Every day new technologies are being introduced, which is making traditional businesses redundant. Just recently one needed physical infrastructure and warehouses across the country to become a big trading house but today you need a good e-commerce platform. Companies like Amazon and Alibaba have become one of the largest trading houses because of their focus on e-commerce platform. These two companies are just a few examples that technology-driven businesses today are very easy to scale up. So the challenge for the next generation is to cope with this changing business environment and CG is working on a number of technology-driven business initiatives. However, it might take a bit more time for Nepal to adopt the changing business scenario as the country does not have quite a conducive environment to embrace new technologies.

Forbes recently calculated your business value at $1.3 billion. What value of your total business assets lies in Nepal?

Despite there not being an enabling business environment in Nepal, we are rapidly investing in the country. My attempt, commitment, desire and direction is to increase investment in Nepal. As we are a Nepali multinational company and our foundation is in Nepal, we have to have at least 50 per cent involvement in Nepal. I do not know on what basis Forbes has calculated my business value. However, I believe that we are 50 per cent involved in Nepal.

Do you have any business expansion plan here in Nepal?

At present the value of the projects that we are involved in is worth Rs 30 billion. Besides these projects, CG is also preparing to build the first power storage project with capacity of 60 megawatts in the country. Along with this new project, which we will begin as soon as we obtain the licence, CG will invest another Rs 50 billion over the next five years in Nepal in sectors ranging from hydro, cement, real estate, hotels and food industry.

Which of the existing sectors will CG prioritise in terms of expansion?

Financial services sector is under our priority for expansion. I am proud to say that despite huge artificial obstructions, we have created one of the finest financial institutions in the country. Continuing its legacy, I believe that we have to now take Nabil Bank to the international market and regulators too do not have any obstructions regarding it. We also have major expansion plans in the fast-moving consumer goods segment. The third and the fourth areas where we will be heavily invested in are the power and cement industries, respectively. We will definitely be the largest power company in the country soon and we will further expand cement production. CG has a significant international presence in the hospitality sector and we will soon try to become a major player in the hospitality sector of Nepal too.

As a successful business leader, what would be your message to young Nepali entrepreneurs?

We need to be proud of being a Nepali citizen and not develop a feeling of being incompetent. We should always strive to be the best in whichever profession we are involved in. To be successful, one should try to win the confidence and trust from the market. Once this happens, the business will not have problems of capital flow. The day Nepal gets an enabling business environment, all your knowledge and experiences will have big value to your business.  I think there are two problems for young entrepreneurs in Nepal — the fear of loss and lack of trust from family. However, entrepreneurs should not count these factors as obstacles for entrepreneurial development.