This is more of a personal post, written for my number one role model throughout my life – my maternal grandad, and a thank you, as without his love and support, I would not be the person I am today, nor would I have the courage and determination to work hard on my business and believe in myself. I was his only granddaughter and I had a soft spot for him as he did for me, and he meant the world to me.
When I was younger and living in Mombasa, my brother and I used to go to Nairobi every school holidays to spend time with our maternal grandparents. I have always been an early riser and so would wake up and see the light on in my Grandad’s home office, while the rest of the house would still be asleep. He would be perched at his desk, at 5am or 6am, concentrating and writing in his notepad and I would go into his home office and give him company.
He would give me little tasks to do such as write a composition, or give me some maths questions to do to keep me occupied during that time and also to work on throughout the day, and at the end of the day when he got back from his day at the office, he would go over the tasks with me, correcting me where needed and explaining things to me.
I one day asked him why he got up so early everyday when everyone else was sleeping and he said “that’s when I get the most work done because I can concentrate.” That just stuck in my mind, and little did I know, it was such a valuable influence, that in the last few years when I have been juggling my day job and my blog, it was the early hours in the morning, where I found the peace and quiet to focus and stay on top of my to-do list. It was the time I was most productive and got the most done. People would think I was nuts but it worked for me!
I knew from an early age that my grandad was a special man. He started his career around 1936 at the tender age of 12 having no money for high school education. He was fostered and mentored by his maternal uncle (Bhagwanji and company) and worked with them until 1945. After this he started his own business in 1947 with a capital of 5000 shillings. With his meticulous nature, hard work, attention to detail relentless will to succeed, he built the Chandaria group of companies.
He was always involved in so much charity and philanthropic work and has his own charitable trust called “Magan Chandaria Charitable Trust, which provides services to Humanity, Poverty reduction, Education and needy people and thereby uplifting the lives of many people. He has financially contributed to number of Social activities including Suryakalaben Maganlal Chandaria Children Medical Centre, Dinesh Medical Centre.
In addition, the City Council of Nairobi has named its school in the Ruaraka area the “M M Chandaria Primary School, where 1,200 students from very poor families are studying. My grandad has built a number of classes at this school, as well as providing computers to help facilitate learning.
He has even met Prince Charles, where he was invited to the palace for his contributions to Help the Aged and Help Age India! His life has been filled with absolutely amazing moments.
My grandad, as you can see, is quite the role model – in his 90s he was awarded the very deserving Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree by The United Graduate College & Seminary, USA on 13th December 2013. I was so grateful to have been in Nairobi during that time to attend the graduation ceremony, and walked alongside him as he went to receive this amazing accolade.
He was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Merit Award by THINK BUSINESS for his contribution in Banking and Social Activities April 2014.
He played a major role in construction of Oshwal Centre right from the initial drawing of plans till the completion of construction. He had been actively involved with the Visa Oshwal Community in Mombasa and Nairobi for over 50 years in various capacities as Committee Member, Joint Secretary, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice Chairman, Chairman and Trustee. He was a trustee of the VOC Nairobi and the Jain Social Group. He also served as the Secretary of Oshwal Education and Relief Board.
Amongst his other notable positions held include Vice Chairman of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Trustee of Hindu Council of Kenya, Chairman and Trustee of Kenya Printing and Converting Association and chairman of Saturday Club and Various small and medium sized banks.
He was a Member of District Grand Lodge of East Africa and the Asian Foundation. He was a member of the Kenya Ports authority Committee which monitored the running of Mombasa Port.
He was recently also awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW), in July 2017 by the President of Kenya. This is in recognition of outstanding or distinguished services rendered to the nation in various capacities and responsibilities.
I couldn’t be prouder!
I still remember when I was deciding on what university courses to do. I hated anything to do with numbers and so imagined myself in a career as a geologist, measuring river depths, and checking out Volcanoes, but my parents and grandad were having none of that. He told me that I should do a Banking and Finance course and I was like no way, I can’t do that. I would fail! So I compromised on a Business Management course at Cardiff University.
My grandad has always had a keen interest in banking, having served as a chairman for more than ten years for small and medium size banks in Kenya, and was also the first Asian to be the Director of The Central Bank Deposit Protection Fund.
He also founded his own bank, Guardian Bank Limited, in Kenya, which today has various branches across the country.
After university, having done both an undergraduate and postgraduate degree outside of London, I moved back to the capital and began my search for my graduate job. I had my heart set on getting on a graduate scheme at a top company but in the meantime I found a job at a local bank branch to earn some pocket money whilst I continued to do applications.
I remember a day when someone from Kenya walked into the branch, which was in the local area where I lived in Finchley, and was surprised to see me there and said to me “Why do you need to work when your grandad owns a bank?” I was stunned by this and paused before answering, “Everyone starts somewhere and I want to make my own path.”
It made me even more determined to make a name for myself and I would spend my evenings sending off job applications and try not to get upset at some of the rejections along the way.
Over the months I worked part time at the bank branch, I actually began to enjoy it and my interest in the banking sector rose. Who would have thought!
Then one day, after successfully going through various interview stages, I got a job on a graduate scheme…at one of the top banks! Incidentally, the same one whose branch I was working part time at as a pure coincidence. The joke was on me – all those years ago when my grandad had told me to do a Banking and Finance degree and I had refused, I had only gone and ended up in a Bank as my career path!
He couldn’t have been prouder and for the 10 years I worked there, he loved asking me about it, seeing me progress over time and would proudly discuss how banking was the way forward, and what trends were occurring in the banking industry, whenever I visited.
Then came the day when I had to tell him I was leaving my career in Banking to pursue my dream to become a full time blogger and to set up my own business to work for myself. I dreaded that day so much and I still remember that look of shock on his face, for it was his dream career for me, his only granddaughter.
However, he could see the passion I had and he knew all the opportunities I was getting and so instead he totally backed my decision to start a business and since then he became one of my biggest supporters, always asking my parents what I am up to and where I am off to next and taking a keen interest in every aspect of it.
To this day I am so grateful for all the lessons and the life skills he has taught me, both directly and indirectly through observation and pep talks, and if I can be half as amazing as the person he is, then I will be happy.
My brother and 5 cousins, who are pretty much also like brothers, have also become amazing individuals, with so much passion, ambition and have amazing hearts of gold and it is all down to our amazing upbringing, and the lessons our dear grandad has taught us all.
Thank you for all that you have done for me, and our family.
Love you always. xx