HISTORY

Estd. 1950

A True Entrepreneur

Many definitions of entrepreneurship can be found in the literature describing business processes. The earliest definition of entrepreneurship, dating from the eighteenth century, used it as an economic term describing the process of bearing the risk of buying at certain prices and selling at uncertain prices. Other, later commentators broadened the definition to include the concept of bringing together the factors of production. This definition led others to question whether there was any unique entrepreneurial function or whether it was simply a form of management. Early this century, the concept of innovation was added to the definition of entrepreneur-ship. This innovation could be process innovation, market innovation, product innovation, factor innovation, and even organizational innovation. Later definitions described entrepreneurship as involving the creation of new enterprises and that the entrepreneur is the founder.

The studies have noted some common characteristics among entrepreneurs, they are, need for achievement, perceived locus of control, orientation toward intuitive rather than sensate thinking, and risk-taking propensity.

Late Shri Jasraj Kalianji Popat.

Thus this is a story of an Entrepreneurs journey from Karachi to Mumbai who possessed all the above characteristics. Girdharlal Velji Popat son of Velji Kalianji Popat was born on 24th August 1926. The family constituted of mother: Jethiben Velji Popat, father, his 4 brothers: Ramnikal Velji Popat, Vithal Velji Popat, Jaman Velji Popat & Janak Velji Popat  and 2 sisters, Girdharlal being the eldest of all. He was brought up in Karachi, Sindh province (now known as Pakistan). Jasraj Kalianji Popat was his fathers elder brother and their age difference was of 20 (twenty) years. So the business was well established, but he wanted to start something on his own and didn’t wanted to depend on his uncle’s family. In Karachi Jasraj Kalianji Popat accompanied by his sons and younger brother (Girdharlal’s father) had a business of Clearing and Forwarding in the name of Jasraj Kalianji & Co.

Pre-independence 1926-1947

Girdharlal Velji Popat studied only upto SSC. From std. I to std. IV he studied at Kunwarji Khimji Gujrati High School, Karachi and from std. V to SSC he studied at Shree Sharda Mandir English High School, Karachi.

After failing in SSC he didn’t join the business directly. As he was not willing to be dependent on his uncle’s family, Girdharlal went to Bhatinda, Patiala State (now in Punjab) to start his own business in1943. At that time he was only 17 (seventeen) years old. Chattrabhuj Karia a Gujrati fellow was his partner in the business. They opened a very small office in Bhatinda in the name of Mulchand Deepchand & Co. Girdharlal along with his partner were actually the commission agents for food grains. Girdharlal and his partner did this business for one year. He stayed alone for one year and at that time he didn’t knew how to cook. So sometimes he had to sleep empty stomach when he had no money and rest of the time he used to eat outside food. As he was young his partner who was very cunning cheated him. So he had to return to Karachi in 1944. There is a saying that once a person falls the anxiety to rise quickly increases. So Girdharlal took this as a lesson and from there on no one succeeded in cheating him.

While his tenure in Bhatinda, in 1943 Girdharlal’s father Velji bhai and his brother Jasraj bhai mutually parted from business. So Velji bhai took care of clearing business and Jasraj bhai took care of forwarding business. As a result in 1944 Girdharlal joined his fathers business of clearing to assist him in the business. They cleared the goods imported from or exported to Saurashtra Port, Jamnagar Port & Jinjoda Port. The goods included were mainly groundnut or groundnut oil, cottonseeds and food grains. During that time there was hardly any export from India as there was a lot of import coming to India mainly from England. But he was not into foreign import clearance as majority of the foreign trade was in the hand of British. Big British companies like Cox & Kings, Thomas Cook, and etc. were controlling the foreign import or export clearance. Girdharlal employeed no one and the whole procedure of clearing were done single-handedly by him. His interest had always been in the foreign trade which was at that time only in the hands of few Indians.

In 1945 Devchand bhai one of Girdharlal’s friend made him friendly with the foreign import clearance procedure. Devchand bhai’s company was into clearance of crockery imported from China. Soon Girdharlal’s hard work and his dedication towards his business came into notice of British and in the end of 1945 Girdharlal started clearing tooth paste, soaps, alarm clock and etc. from England and this is how Jasraj Kalianji & Co. made entry into the import and export clearing market.

When the business got settled by mid 1946 he engaged to Chandravali in 1947 before independence and he sent his brother Ramniklal Velji Popat to Banaras for further studies.

Post-independence 1947 Onwards

15th of August 1947 India got independence from British. The period was of tension and worries in the mind of Hindus and Muslims. Soon Girdharlal made arrangements for the whole family to reach India through a steamer, which landed at Okha Port near Dwarka. He returned back to Karachi, as there was not much money with the family. His father and the whole family opposed to this decesion and said “we will beg” as they didn’t want him to take such a huge risk. But Girdharlal wanted to live a respectful life. So he went back to Karachi and stayed at his uncle’s place for 6 (six) months. He was some how able to manage the business and gathered a sum of Rs. 10,000 (ten thousand) in 6 (six) months and returned back to India.

He then satyed in a small village called Jhamkhambadia near Jamnagar in Gujrat along with his family for 6 months. Then he took his entire family in 1948 to Morbi a small town near Rajkot in Gujrat in search of business, as they had no business in Jhamkhambadia. In Morbi he got the agency of Maharana Mills who were into manufacturing of Sarees & Dhotis. So in the initial stage of business they were able to make a profit of Rs. 5,000 (five thousand) and then in 1949 he married to Chandravali in Morbi. The manager of Maharana mills also got agency of the mill and opened a shop in Morbi close to Girdharlal’s shop. Because of this Girdharlal and his father had to sell at a much lower rate and thereby making a loss. They had to ultimately stop the business. Still Girdharlal was courageous and started another business of supplying ghee in Morbi which was handled by his father as he was making constant trips to Bombay (now known as Mumbai) to start there own original clearing business. Soon the ghee business also failed.

“God always shows a ray of light in darkness”- Girdharlal strongly believed in this and ray of light was shown to him in 1950. Girdharlal along with his 4 (four) friends started again the clearing business in Bombay in the name of Jasraj Kalianji & Co. and the license, for the same, used by him was of his father-in-law Kalidas bhai in the name of Kalidas Muljee & Co. From 1950-1952 Girdharlal stayed at his best friend Gordhan’s place at Dhobi Talao in Bombay. As mentioned earlier that he was very hardworking and dedicated towards his business and he was able to attract more and more clients, so in 1952 Commissioner of Customs granted license in the name of Jasraj Kalianji & Co. to Girdharlal. In 1952 he parted from his partners. From here his success story starts.

In 1952, soon after getting the license he bought a 12×12 room in Khatau Chawl in Mulund and called his wife after 2 (two) months. The room, which he bought, had no lights, fans, and toilets. But his responsibility didn’t ended here. He again bought a better room after 8 (eight) months, after his wife came to Bombay, for his family in Mulund and sold of their Morbi flat. He not only settled his brothers and sisters but also included his brothers in the business.

In 1954, his wife gave birth to their first child Bhupendra. Girdharlal had 2 (two) sons and 2 (two) daughters. As his son Bhupendra grew older his shoulders and back became more and more strong. And with the support of his son, in 1975 Girdharlal and his son Bhupendra diverted their business to Clearing of Precious Cargo (Gems & Jewellery). Following the footsteps of his father, Bhupendra made Jasraj Kalianji & Co. a market leader in the clearing of precious cargo. Today not only Girdharlal’s family but also the families of all his brothers are together in the same business.