Reaping Success

Entrepreneur Rajan Bagaria is a leader in the agro-commodities business. He believes that one must work towards achieving steady success rather than quick profits 

6/30/2017 2:13:24 PM
written By : Nithya Subramanian Print

When you meet Rajan Bagaria, Managing Director of Arvee International Pte Ltd, at his office in the central business district of Singapore, you will still see an old world charm. Simplicity and human connection is still alive at a time when many office spaces though swanky and wired seem cold and disconnected.

Bagaria, who has spent almost 36 years in business, credit his staff for his strength, many spending over a decade working for Arvee International. “My staff is like my family and I am aware of the goings-on in their lives,” he said, something that is not often seen in today’s work environment. 

This is perhaps, how the old-timers did business. Coming from the Marwari community, business and trading is in Bagaria’s blood. In fact Marwari traders have historically been migratory in habit. He came to Singapore in 1990 and today runs a very successful trading business.

At present Arvee is one of the largest exporter of pulses, beans, spices and animal feed, while also dealing in textiles, machinery, coal and iron. 

In 2016, Arvee International achieved a new milestone as one of the winners of the Singapore Enterprise Medal of Honour for the first time. “I see the award as a recognition of not just my sacrifices and hard work but also my staff, who hold the same vision and determination to make Arvee International a success,” he said.

Here are excerpts of an exclusive interview with the 69-year-old entrepreneur who believes that it is better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to running a business. “I do not take big risks,” he said.

India Se: Tell us a little about your background and upbringing?

Rajan Bagaria: I grew up in Bihar, as my father was involved in a business related to mining operations there. So I did my schooling at Hazaribagh, and then went on to study engineering at Birla Institute of Technology (BIT) Ranchi. After completing a degree in mechanical engineering, I moved to Calcutta in 1981 and started an export business to Russia (former United Soviet Socialist Republic). I started with Mica, and then moved on to computers and electronics mainly to the erstwhile communist countries. During those years, it was easy to do business with Soviet Union.

We were a big family with six brothers and four sisters. All my brothers are businessmen in India.

India Se: How did you move from Calcutta to Singapore?

Rajan Bagaria: In the early 1990s, the electronics business was growing very fast, and Singapore was the main hub for the region. I had established a business association with International Trading Company (INTRACO), a Singapore government entity. So that one contact acted as a cushion. I started with some consultancy work, and then started moved on to starting my own trading business. So you can say that I started with zero investment as I did advisory work due to my Moscow connection. There were people who wanted to do business with the then USSR and worked on profit-sharing basis.

India Se: When did you set up a full-fledged business here?

Rajan Bagaria: As my business in India was still operational, I was travelling between countries. But in 1991, I started a small trading business here dealing in electronics, computers, tea and coffee from Indonesia. But soon I had to close down the computer business due to competition, and moved full-time into agro commodities. Now we source agro commodities from Canada, Australia, Myanmar and then trade them to India. 

Once my business became steady, my family moved later after two years.

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