--By Om Prakash Khanal
Many might not quite know that entrepreneur Anil Kumar Agrawal has a love for music as well. And that this love is not just limited to listening to music. Whenever family or friends gather, Agrawal instinctively starts singing and his singing is always met with loud applause.
His passion for music doesn’t just end here. He has recorded some songs and bhajans (devotional songs). Agrawal, together with popular Nepali singer Ananda Karki, brought out an album titled Shiva Sagar which included 10 bhajans 20 years ago. He has also released an album, lending his voice to songs originally sung by Indian legends such as Mohammad Rafi, Mukesh and Kishore Kumar.
According to Agrawal, honesty is fundamental to success in professional, family and social life. Agrawal who is clear that one accomplishes nothing without diligence and honesty says positive thinking and good behaviour enable one to face and overcome challenges of any kind. “Honesty and trust are two things that we cannot do without. We need them at every moment in life. Only the people confident in their work can move forward, pushing challenges aside,” he says.
Actively engaged in trade and industry for the last 25 years, Agrawal has been manufacturing cement as well for the past decade. He is also involved in the import business from India as well as third countries. Born in the southern city of Birgunj in 1968, Agrawal completed his higher studies in management from Birgunj itself. Agrawal who believes that entrepreneurship thrives on the right combination of knowledge gained from education and experience gained from professional practice, thinks his higher studies in management has helped him in conducting his business.
In his experience, the outlook as well as nature of any business alters with change in time and demand. He says, “In the beginning, food and clothing were enough for people. Now along with the change in times, people’s desires have become unlimited. Choice became important in consumption as well. This didn’t only increase the need for trade and production, but rather changed it.”
Initially, his family was involved in the business of edible oil and fabric. Today he is involved in the production of many things and thinks it is a change brought about by demand. “A successful industrialist is one who can move forward by transforming needs into opportunities,” he shares.
“We should also know how to create opportunities by making the best use of the available means and resources including human resource,” he adds.
He accepts the changes brought about by time and keeps himself actively engaged in professional, family and social activities accordingly. This young entrepreneur, even in his busy business schedule, makes time for social work. “Business has its own place. But people do have responsibilities to their communities. It’s our responsibility to meet them,” states Agrawal.
Anil married Neelam 25 years ago and the couple has two sons, Anshuman and Pranjal. Currently, Agrawal is the secretary of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BiCCI), the umbrella organization of the business persons and industrialists of Bara and Parsa districts. Through his affiliation to BiCCI for the past one decade, Agrawal has played his part actively in finding solutions to the problems faced by the local businesses and industries.
Besides BiCCI, he is also always at the forefront of the activities of social organizations like the Lions Club of Birgunj, Marwadi Yuva Manch etc. “Community and social work enables you to identify problems and enhances the ability to resolve them by working together,” he shares. Social work is an exemplary form of mutual agreement and working together, he says, and thinks it should be taken up as a campaign. He even suggests that this lack of a culture of working together has complicated the issues of political, economic and social transition of the country.
Agrawal says Nepal’s trade and industry sector had a great chance to move ahead following the 1990 political change. “Before 1990, trade and industry was controlled by the government. There were no liberal policies in place. The country’s trade and industry sector embraced a fast-paced growth after the open market policy was followed,” states Agrawal.
He thinks that the development of the banking sector – a must for trade and industry – and reforms like review of the tax and revenue policies made modernization of trade and industries in the country possible. But the conflict which quickly followed on the heels of the reinstatement of democracy in 1990 badly affected the economy, he observes, adding that it set trade and industry back by years. “Nepal’s socio-economic life which was marred by a decade of conflict is yet to come out of the transition,” observes an Agrawal who believes that the political transition has to conclude for the economy to prosper.
Agrawal who compares self-satisfaction with success in life says he still has many things to do in his professional, social and personal life. “Everyone has experienced satisfaction differently. But to be satisfied with your job is what real success is,” Agrawal is clear, “People’s ambitions may be unlimited. But only a few of them come true. Thus, success is being happy in whatever you are doing.” One of Agrawal’s business styles is to listen to the suggestions and advice of everyone in every matter although he makes the final decision himself.
He has a word of advice to the newcomers in the trade and industry sector - enter the business only after carrying out a thorough study of the market and its possibilities. This includes carrying out a proper feasibility study in order to make your business because a business started without such a study may go under any time. “The working together of the old and new generation in any business can become a model for success,” says Agrawal, adding that mixing the knowledge gained from formal education and the experience of seasoned entrepreneurs makes any business very easy.
The advancement in information technology has certainly made things easier but the key lies in making the right use of information technology, says Agrawal who uses this to take forward both his professional and personal lives in a balanced way. “IT has made people’s lives so easy that they can work from anywhere in the world. It is because of IT that I have been able to devote ample time to my family despite my busy business schedule,” he says.
Agrawal feels that keeping a friendly eye on human resources is an indispensable part of running any business and adds that skilled and diligent people form the foundation of any business. “If the employees selected on the basis of competence are treated like family, then achieving goals becomes much easier. Encouraging good deeds and punishing bad ones is also a crucial part of human resource management,” he explains. Agrawal who is confident that service and quality play the main role in making any business competitive, says he has embraced the formula of maximum sales at minimum profit for the expansion of his business. “Customer satisfaction is the key to the success of any enterprise and it should not be forgotten,” he emphasizes.