The story of Chandubhai Virani’s life is one of incredible victory over adversity. He was born into a low-income household and had financial hardships even as a young child. Chandubhai and his family relocated to Dhundoraji when he was 15 years old, expecting to make the most of his father’s meagre money and start over.
Meghjibhai and Bhikhubhai, his two brothers, gave Chandubhai each Rs 20,000 to start again. They started a business in Rajkot selling agricultural goods and farm systems, but fate had other ideas. Within a few years, the project failed, putting the relatives’ circle through a similar ordeal.
Chandubhai took on a few odd jobs in an effort to supplement his little income, including working at the Astron Cinema cafeteria, attaching posters, and mending damaged seats for pitiful pay. Due to severe financial difficulty and unpaid rent, they were forced to leave their leased flat. However, Chandubhai was able to pay back the debt in the end.
Despite these difficulties, Chandubhai’s persistence paid off as he and his brothers were awarded a contract for Rs 1,000 per month for their excellent work at the cafeteria.
Chandubhai eventually became aware of the theater’s need for wafers at this period. He saw a business potential and made the decision to try his luck in the wafer business. He set up a temporary shack in his courtyard and started experimenting with chips using just Rs. 10,000.
His homemade chips started to get an overwhelming response outside of the theatre as well as inside. Encouraged by this success, Chandubhai built Gujarat’s largest potato wafer plant in 1989 at Aji GIDC in Rajkot with help from modest sales and a bank loan of about Rs 50 lakh.
Balaji Wafers Private Ltd. was established in 1992 by Chandubhai and his brothers. A little glass statue of Lord Hanuman kept in their chamber served as the source of the company’s name. With four facilities spread across the nation and a daily production capacity of 6.5 million kg of potatoes and 10 million kg of namkeen, Balaji Wafers prospered over the years.
The journey was not without its difficult challenges, but Chandubhai’s resolve and foresight made him a wealthy man in potato wafers. Balaji Wafers’ stated sales as of FY21 were an amazing Rs 4,000 crore. Chandubhai was given a buyout offer of the same amount, but he chose to stick with his convictions and turn it down.
Today, Balaji Wafers employs 5,000 individuals, with an impressive 50% of the workforce being female. Chandubhai’s success story serves as a light of hope, showing us that with perseverance and commitment, it is possible to rise from lowly beginnings to amazing heights of fulfilment.