Santosh Kumar Tibarewala, a Marwari businessman from Nepal, has set up a successful polymer trading business in Singapore
12/1/2015 7:59:36 PM
|written By : Nithya Subramanian|
When you go for a business meeting and are offered a cup of Masala Chai, you can be sure that you are at a Marwari businessman’s office. For this community is known not just for its entrepreneurial nature but also its ability to carry its traditions and habits wherever it goes in the world.
Santosh Kumar Tibarewala, Managing Director of Polymet SA (S) Pte Ltd is one such entrepreneur whose family was invited by the royal family of Nepal along with some other businessmen to move from Rajasthan and set up business in the Himalayan kingdom. Tibarewala just extended the family footprint by later starting a company here in Singapore. From a turnover of less than US$1 million in 2001, Polymet has become an over US$30 million entity.
In an interview with India Se Tibarewala spoke about his family background, business and the Marwari community here in Singapore. He is President of the Marwari Mitra Mandal and a grassroots leader.
India Se: Could you tell us a little about your background? You are a Marwari from Nepal, which is rather unusual?
Santosh Kr Tibarewala: My family comes from Rajasthan, but they migrated to Nepal in 1851 when the rulers invited a few businessmen there to push trade for the country. So I was born and brought up in Nepal, belonging to the fourth generation. My entire education was there, I am a graduate in commerce from Tribhuvan University.
My family started off as cloth merchants; we also got the title of Battis Kothi Mahajan because 32 of them were identified as ‘mahajans’ or traders. So whenever there was procession or function in the palace, these 32 were made to ride on elephants (four on each elephant). After cloth, we entered oil, construction and other business, but since 1982 we have been concentrating on polymers.
India Se: When did you move to Singapore and settle here?
Santosh Kr Tibarewala: I first came to Singapore in 1978 for our oil business - to buy from Mobil Oil. It was amongst my earliest overseas trips. I had visited Hong Kong in June and later came to Singapore in December. From my very first trip, I liked the country, the law and the multi-racial society. I continued coming and each time I came, I noticed something different. For instance in 1978, we had the Paya Lebar airport, but by 1981 Changi was built. I saw the fast-pace of development and the efficient system suited my system, so I wanted to settle here. In 1982, I started my current polymer business and by 2001 I set up my office here.