Meet Mr. Harish Jagtani who as a young boy of just 22 years in 1995 left the comforts of his home, empty handed but with a vision and determination to face any odds in the world, travelled to a country in Africa despite knowing the challenges of food, culture, safety, health, language barrier, etc. leaving behind his family to fulfil his dreams of making it big. His only support was his Uncle.
Today Harish Jagtani is a multi-billionaire business tycoon having an international business that has contributed a lot in the development of D R Congo. His group of companies provides employment to over 4000 natives and 700-800 Indians or other foreign nationals.
Today he is the biggest Philanthropist in D R Congo region with HJ Hospitals providing healthcare facilities to the natives of Democratic Republic of Congo
HJ Foundations provides sustainable healthcare to all people even to people who do not have the means to pay for it. They also hold a lot of charity camps at villages and small cities.
MTI News – Senior Correspondent got an opportunity to interview Mr. Harish Jagtani the man himself and below is the candid conversation between them :-
Q: You started business in D R Congo 20 years ago, what were you doing before that and let us know how you started your career?
HJ : I came to D R Congo to work for my uncle Mr. Parmanand Daswani in 1995, as a sales executive. My Uncle runs a chain of supermarkets functioning across Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo. This was how I started my actual career on a serious basis. After working for him for a couple of years, I started my own business.
Q: How did you think about D R Congo?
I was not aware of D R Congo but as I came to work for my uncle, he was the one who introduced me to the country and once I came here, I came to believe that this was a land of opportunities.
Q: What were the risks in doing business 20 years ago and how is the situation now? What are the new risks currently and how do you manage them?
When you ask about the risks in business, I do not find much change in the situation. I did not find much risk of business then, nor do I find many now. There are challenges, yes, as are in every place when you want to start something new. The situation has definitely improved, we have much more resources now that are available in ways easier than earlier. Thankfully, we have a strong supply chain management set up that helps us to smooth out the road bumps and things can be managed quite efficiently these days.
Q: What are the challenges you faced in the beginning, like language, culture food habits, crime etc. and how did you overcome them?
I believe you have quite rightly mentioned the challenges in your question. The culture, the language, the food habits were quite different from back in India. But then, what is life without challenges. I believe these challenges were the one that shaped me. It was difficult, but once I had made up my mind that this is the place where I want to be, these challenges made it more attracting. I used to put in extra hours after tiring days at work to get hold of the language and the culture. Today, I speak Lingala which is the most used language amongst the natives here in D R Congo. This helps me to connect with people of all levels and was one of the important stepping stones in this journey.
Q: How did you become so successful in just 20 years?
I would rather say it’s not the timeframe but the mindset that helps a person become successful. As I mentioned, once I came here and realised the potential of the country, I made up my mind that this was the place to be. Finding the right kind of work, building the right network, taking the right decisions and implementing those quickly; these, amongst a few other aspects were what helped me make my way to success. Not only planning but quick and correct implementation I think has what helped me above everything else.
Q: What initiatives do you want to take for people in India, like providing jobs or bringing entrepreneurs to D R Congo and suggesting a business?
I would rather take initiatives for the people here in this land. There is a plethora of unexplored opportunities here and the rich resources of the country belong to the natives. Indians can surely work here in tandem with the local populations and contribute to the growth and development of this country.
Q: How have you contributed to the development of Congo and in which area?
My team here has contributed in more ways than one when it comes to the development of D R Congo. Serve Air Cargo, my flagship company is one of the largest air cargo providers in the country that connects around 28 destinations in the entire D R Congo. Today, with developing roads and travel routes within the country, it is Serve Air Cargo that helps multiple organisations, global NGOs, institutes of the state as well as private businesses transport freight from one location to other. Today we are the pioneers in the field of logistics.
We have stepped into the domain of healthcare in 2016 with HJ Hospitals. Today, after 6 years, HJ Hospital is the epitome of quality healthcare in the entire Central- West African Region. A state of the art diagnostic centre, a 200 bedded, multi-super specialty hospital, HJ Hospital today provides services which were a far-fetched dream for many people till almost 5-7 years back. We have cancer surgeries, total joint replacement surgeries, complex neuro and cardiac surgeries, all being performed under the same roof by experts from across the globe. Expert medical staff from multiple nationalities work alongside natives to bring quality healthcare to the people of D R Congo.
Plus, with the formation of HJ Foundations, my team has made sure that sustainable healthcare can be availed by even people who do not have the means to pay for it. My team at HJ Foundations conducts multiple charity healthcare camps ranging from free malaria testing, free cataract surgeries to free prosthetic limbs campaigns wherein not a single cent is charged from any person who walks in to find support.
Apart from these works, we are also developing real estate and state infrastructure and my team has made sure that we touch lives through all our works and contribute to the best of our potential for the development of this country.
Q: What is the total size of HJ group how many staff ?
My team at the HJ group consists of around 100 expatriate staff and over 3000 native staff members
Q: A few words about your family and how do you divide your time between business and family?
Well, my family stays in India and I do travel at times to meet them. But it does get difficult as I have to be here most of the time with my people, my team members who have contributed immensely to the growth and success that you term as mine. It is the hard work and dedication of my team and they are more than my family and most of my time is usually spent amidst them.
Q: What are your future plans and do you have any plans to diversify into other countries?
My future plans do involve a lot of expansion but only in D R Congo. I do have plans to build better infrastructure and opportunities and services for the people of this country. My immediate plans in the next 5 years include building a few more centres of the HJ Hospitals, expanding the reach of HJ Foundations, Medical College and also building HJ Garment to create 1000’s of employment across major cities in D R Congo.