By: Sujan Tiwari
“While opting for a new business venture, I always first look for what excites me, and then there has to be the potential for growth in that business. I like to do what hasn’t been done before. My effort has always been to start new businesses and expand them. As I prefer to tread into new sectors where we don’t have a presence, I have helped my organisation move out of traditional businesses and venture into new avenues,” says Hemant Golchha, Executive Director of Golchha Organisation, one of the oldest and most successful business houses in Nepal.
According to him, with the digital revolution, the way of doing business is rapidly changing across the globe. “It has opened up vast new opportunities and the new generation is well suited to cash-in on this opportunity, so they should prepare for it and dive into it. Entrepreneurship is all about taking that risk,” he shares.
Golchha is currently managing remittance, real estate and tourism among other businesses under Golchha Organisation. He directly looks after Hulas Remittance, Travel World Experiences, Shangri-La Housing, Shangri-La Spirits and Shangri-La Motors.
“I grew up wanting to do business. I didn’t know what type of business I wanted to be in, but I was clear that I would be a businessman and an entrepreneur”
Hulas Remittance is one of the largest agents of Western Union, and also is one of the top five remittance companies in Nepal. Started personally by Golchha 10 years ago, it has now grown by leaps and bounds. “Our organisation wasn’t initially into remittance and tourism. So I purposely moved into these two businesses as almost 40 percent of our GDP is from these two sectors. Being one of the big business houses, we couldn’t miss out on this large chunk,” explains Golchha.
Travel World Experiences is the in-bound travel and tour operator initiated by him. “We sell combined travel packages of Nepal, India, Bhutan and Sri Lanka through the company. We sell products all over the world through its global network, and we have offices in 14 countries around the world. We are the number one in-bound tour operator in Nepal,” he says.
Shangrila Housing is the real-estate development wing. There are two projects under it, Sun City with 500 residential apartments which is one of the largest projects in Nepal, and the other is The Residency in Sanepa with 150 apartments.
Shangrila Spirits is the alcohol distribution business and the national distributor for Bacardi Group and ABD Group. Golchha, who also happens to be an avid automobile enthusiast, has recently received the distributorship of acclaimed French automobile giant Peugeot, and Shangrila Motors is the new authorised importer and distributor of the French vehicle for Nepal, “I have just completed the showroom and workshop. We will be unveiling three Peugeot models at the NADA Auto Show,” he shares.
Golchha Organisation has nearly a century old history. The foundation of the organisation was laid by Golchha’s great grandfather Ram Lal Golchha, a business pioneer of Nepal. He started his first trading business in Biratnagar by exporting jute to India, and then to Europe. He was the first to export using formal banking channels. Later, he was instrumental in start-up of the first industry in Nepal, the iconic Biratnagar Jute Mill. “I am immensely influenced by him. He was the first to start the trading business and was also the first to open industries in Nepal. Thanks to him, since the last 80 or so years, our organisation has always been in leading positions in all the businesses we have done,” he says.
The formative years
Hemant Golchha was born in 1970 to Lokmanya Golchha and Harsha Lata Golchha. The eldest of two brothers, he was born and brought up in Kathmandu. He says he grew up in a large joint family and childhood was lot of fun as he had a lot of siblings and cousins. “As I belonged to Nepal’s oldest and largest business family, childhood was very well provided for and I feel very privileged for that,” recalls Golchha. An average student, Golchha enjoyed sports and was passionate about automobiles. ”I learnt driving when I was just 11, and I was driving on the roads as soon as I was 16. Automobiles have always been my passion,” he shares.
Golchha did his schooling from St Xavier’s School in Kathmandu and later graduated from St Joseph’s College of Commerce in Bangalore. He completed his Executive Business Programme from Harvard Business School in Mumbai and Boston. “Since I grew up in a business family, I grew up wanting to do business. I didn’t know what type of business I wanted to be in, but I was clear that I would be a businessman and an entrepreneur,” he states.
After completing his education, Golchha came back and joined the family business. For the first two years, he was rigorously trained and sent to various family businesses and industries to learn about manufacturing, management, labour and everything in between. After then, he was given the responsibility of Koshi Metal, an industry manufacturing tin containers in Biratnagar. “Everything used to be packaged in tin cans those days and it was a huge business. I then spent another 10 years looking after a sugar plant in Rautahat which manufactured sugar and industrial spirits,” says Golchha.
After about 10 years of being in the family business, Golchha started to feel a stronger pull towards doing something new. He realizes that by doing the existing businesses, he wasn’t doing anything of his own and wasn’t really an entrepreneur yet. “I didn’t feel the excitement and ownership of being an entrepreneur. The businesses were running and they would run whether I was there or not. Then I thought that I needed to start something new on my own to get the true satisfaction. I searched for businesses that I am passionate about and the ones that would keep me exited and driven. So after working in my family business for more than 10 years, I finally became a true entrepreneur and started new business and companies on my own,” he discloses.
According to Golchha, the biggest influence on him was his great grandfather. Though he was merely 12 years old when he passed away, he remembers most of his teachings. “One day, my great grandfather called us all and told us that he had dedicated all his time and effort for business and made it to the top. That was totally true because when he died, he probably was the number one businessman in Nepal. But sadly, he said that he didn’t get the chance to enjoy his life. He was so busy that couldn’t find time for himself. He told us to keep balance between business and personal life,” recalls Golchha.
Learning from his great grandfather’s life lesson, Golchha does not solely focus on money. He always finds time for himself and enjoys life, and ensures that he does things that he likes. “All the family members take this to our heart. We want to live and enjoy our life apart from business. The business is important and so are the ethics, but living your live is the most important,” he says.
“Infrastructure development should be the topmost priority for Nepal”
According to him, for doing business in Nepal, the biggest challenge is to find the right team and manpower to run the business. He says he has made a conscious effort to make sure he builds the best team to run his businesses. Golchha opines that political stability and basic infrastructures are indispensable for the growth of any business, and ultimately for the development of a nation. “No business can prosper without infrastructures of transport, connectivity, electricity, and stable government and policies. Infrastructure development should be the topmost priority for Nepal,” he emphasies.
Golchha says that he has had a fare share of failures along the way, and these failures have taught him many lessons as well. “From a few failed businesses of mine, I learnt that technical capability required to do a business is essential and qualified manpower is hard to find. I figured out that the entrepreneur himself should be capable of running his business, or he must find someone who can do the job for him, otherwise the business can’t be run and its better not to start that business,” says the seasoned entrepreneur.
According to him, you should choose businesses that excite you, otherwise you will not do it for too long and you will not do it well. “But only the excitement isn’t enough, it should have the potential for growth, and you should educate and train yourself to do that business, and if you can’t even do that, hire somebody who will do it for you. This is the secret for a successful business,” he says.
“I work had when I am working, and when the work is done, I like to party hard,” says the youthful entrepreneur, adding “After the work at hand is done, I cut myself off from it and I don’t worry about it.”
He likes to spend time with family and likes to party on weekends. I go out with my friends on Fridays and spend time with my family on Saturdays. He says he cherishes the time spent with his wife Rupali and sons Jai and Aryaman.
His hobbies include automobiles, he likes driving and has participated in many auto sporting events and car rallies in India and Nepal. He has also won a couple of such events. He drives a Ssangyong Rexton, and is excited about his new SUV the Peugeot 3008. On his wish list is a Jaguar.
Hemant Golchha loves travelling, and takes a few vacations every year. “I have been to almost 60 countries, and I want to make that a hundred,” he says. He has a passion for movie making and would like to produce a movie someday. “If I wasn’t in business, I would have been making movies. If things fall into places, I might still do it in future,” says Golchha.