Govindram Seksaria – How an Indian Entrepreneur beat the British at their own game

The story of Govindram Seksaria is unbelievable and inspiring. He was born on October 19th, 1888. At the age of 16, both his parents died, and he had to care for his wife and his six siblings. Despite his situation, he rose over the years to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs of pre-independence India.

The Launch of his Cotton Company

In the early 1900s, Govindram moved to Mumbai and started a business under the name of Messrs. Govindram Seksaria. At that time, India was under the British rule, and it was very hard for Indians to do business because of the apparent lack of support and encouragement from the government. All key industries were either managed or owned by foreign firms, which had full government support.

It was under such hostile business environment that Govindram launched his entrepreneurial career as an operator on the Bombay Cotton Exchange. His company was accepted as a member of the Cotton Contract Board after only a few years. The company would later become the original member of the East India Cotton Association; something which made Govindram very well known in the cotton industry.

Entry into other commodity sectors in India

Following his success in the cotton market, Govindram ventured into the bullion market, as well as different commodity and stock exchange markets in Bombay and other parts of the country. His company, Bombay Cotton Exchange, became a treasured member of the following chambers and boards:

a) The Bombay Bullion Exchange
b) The Indian Merchant Chambers
c) The Bombay Seeds Brokers Association
d) Marwari Chambers of Commerce

In addition to his involvement in the above boards, Govindram went ahead and founded the Indian Stock Exchange. His appetite for diversification and growth became unstoppable, and he soon became an international businessman.

Entry into the International Market

Govindram’s businesses were very successful in India, but it seems he never saw much potential for business growth locally. As a result, he entered into the US market in 1934, where he became a member of the New York Cotton Exchange at a time when such memberships were considered a rare privilege to foreigners like him. He retained his membership till his time of death. He also became an active member of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, as well as Wheat, Sugar and Copper Exchanges in America and Britain. Govindram’s influence grew internationally, and his judgments on international trade became trusted and respected by many.

Establishment of other Industries

He was not satisfied with his successes in various markets both locally and internationally. He went ahead and founded the Govindram Brothers Private Limited in 1937. Under his company, Govindram started a vegetable oil business, and after a short while, he diversified into different sectors such as textiles, banking, sugar, minerals, banking, motion pictures and printing.

As if that was not enough, he went ahead and founded another company by the name, Estate Investment Company, as a management platform for his massive real estate properties. He also established the Bank of Rajasthan, and was a major donor in the formation of Bombay Hospital. He also helped in the development of Indian motion picture through his close association with Bombay Talkies.

Govindram Seksaria died in 1946, but his many social contributions to different causes in pre-independence India, have had lasting effects that can still be felt and seen today.

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