All about Nepal’s own billionaire

Binod Chaudhary wears his billionaire status very lightly

Binod Chaudhary, 69, is an unusual man. He wears his ‘Nepal’s first billionaire’ status very lightly. The man who took Wai Wai Noodles to the world, and came in the Forbes billionaires list in 2013, is a fitness enthusiast, avid trekker, writer and filmmaker, with 122 companies in five countries and 76 brands in the global market.

We reconnected recently at a retreat in Gangtok and, soon after, on his home turf—Kathmandu. The one quality that jumped out during our interactions? His focused interest in everything and everyone around him. He gave me his book, Making it Big: The Inspiring Story of Nepal’s First Billionaire, a chatty, highly readable account of his incredible life. It is a huge bestseller in Nepal and sells briskly in India, too. It starts with an earthquake in Chile (2010) and ends with the devastating earthquake in Nepal (2015). Sandwiched in between is his own story, engagingly written by him in Nepali and later translated into English and several other languages. He is working on his second book, which recounts the Wai Wai success story, detailing the strategy that propelled the brand to unimaginable heights. “A battle cannot be won with compassion,” he states, confessing candidly, “My aggression has overshadowed my good qualities.’’ This is a rare admission for a man who is mega successful and unabashedly proud of his achievements. As the chairperson of the Chaudhary Group, Binod has left the day-to-day running of his vast empire to his three sons—Nirvana, Rahul and Varun.

Binod Chaudhary | Binod Chaudhary |

I remember attending Rahul and Surabhi’s grand wedding in Jaipur. Surabhi, Binod’s beautiful and capable daughter-in-law, is a Mumbai girl, while Nirvana’s wife, Ashrayata, is from Nepal. The close-knit family works seamlessly and efficiently within the assigned roles.

The Chaudhary men are on the move non-stop, what with their vast and varied business interests—from banking, real estate, hospitality, telecom, housing, finance, hospitals and education. Aware of their family lineage, Binod says, “I belong to a community with a proud history… Marwaris have never received the respect they deserve.’’ Binod’s grandfather, originally from Shekhawati in Rajasthan, came to Nepal as a young man of 20 and put down roots. “Marwaris have a wonderful support system, which is why they succeed wherever they go,” declares Binod, as he looks back on his extraordinary life, crammed with personal and professional adventures.

As a seasoned politician and member of parliament from the Nepali Congress party, Binod cites his friendship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while pointing out that India could have done much more for its smaller neighbour, in terms of building Nepal’s infrastructure. Well, the airport at Kathmandu could do with a major facelift, given the tourist traffic from India and the rest of the world.

Binod, who was introduced to Modi by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is keenly watching elections 2024 in India, and won’t be surprised if an unexpected twist upsets the best calculations. His own country is going through a period of turbulence and, at the moment, his political party is on shaky grounds as the demands for a return to monarchy, reinstating the king and declaring Nepal as the world’s only Hindu kingdom, get more strident. Binod is too shrewd and powerful to allow any of this to deter his personal growth vision. His position in Nepal looks unshakeable, despite attempts to dig up old cases and vilify the family.

“I want everything from life,” Binod flatly states, as he rushes off for yet another meeting, a linen jacket casually slung over his arm. The brotherhood of billionaires ensures a certain comfort to the man who has survived earthquakes and more, never once losing sight of his goals. The ground beneath his feet is rock steady, as he confidently takes the Chaudhary Group to the next level.

@DeShobhaa @shobhaade