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Born for Business: The Marwari People



Rajasthan state is located in the northwestern part of India and the name means as the ‘land of the kings.’ It is one of the popular travelers’ destinations that fall under Delhi and Taj Mahal tourist circuit. Medieval oligarchs built spectacular palaces and lavish forts, now metamorphosed into luxury hotels and museums. The contemporary village life, beautiful handicrafts, decorated camels and fine arts are also amazing attractions.

Marwar region is in the central and western regions of Rajasthan and is famous throughout India for its residents who are spread across India – the Marwaris, most successful and wealthiest business community in India. This unique, tiny community dominates the country’s economy and has pan India presence like no other ethnic group and occupy a pre-eminent position in Indian business. For instance, the top 10 Marwari companies have 6 percent capitalization of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and constitute a quarter of the Forbes Indian billionaires list.

In Sanskrit, the word Marwar refers to Maruwat, the root maru implies desert. Another meaning for the word Marwar in English is “the region of death” to impute the harsh desert climate that characterizes Rajasthan state. Marwaris are named after Marwar region. Some historians attribute to these harsh desert conditions influencing Marwari migration and prosperity. D. K. Taknet himself a Marwari and who has written on their heritage has mentioned that they are genetically disposed to accumulate wealth despite the desert conditions – to make money out of nothing. Though anthropologists and historians might disagree with the theory of genetic or environmental causal factors, the meme exists in the folklore to illuminate exotic Orient.

Thomas Timberg, a Harvard graduate has studied extensively the Marwaris; in fact, his doctoral dissertation was on this community. According to Timberg, Marwaris ability to adapt to varied circumstances and places, and being flexible are traits that contribute to their extraordinary success. He said at a recent panel discussion “The answer also probably lies in the fact the commercial communities in general, and Marwaris in particular, have successfully implemented attitudes, skills and support systems.” He is of the view that some of the Indian business communities do inculcate ‘Protestant ethic’ of hard work, thrift and rationality.

Even before the word ‘network’ entered the business lexicon, the overwhelming Marwari community’s success is attributed to networking. There is a difference between network-affiliation and network-achievement. The former is defined as a need to associate with a group and have the alacrity to help others in that group. The latter refers to entrepreneurs starting new enterprises. The Marwaris who have migrated to the east and central parts of India and made fortunes had benefited from excellent support network.

Marwaris are orthodox and are mild-mannered, soft-spoken and peaceful. They prefer to live in a joint family; vegetarians who enjoy an assortment of home-cooked dishes; they take vegetarianism seriously. To a certain extent they resemble the Mediterranean and European Jewish trading communities.

Pan India Presence

Despite having poor, hot desert conditions, they are industrious who refused to give in to poverty. Rather, they formed cooperative groups of skilful traders who left their wives and children in their native villages and ventured out to distant places to seek fortune. Fortune does favor the brave; they succeeded and made fortunes.

From an early age, children learn business because they are surrounded by business persons and watch closely their kin and friends, and imbibe survival skills by making and selling products. The elders are supportive to an individual in starting an enterprise. It is said the Marwaris started making earthen or mud pots and bartered these with cereals or money outside of Marwar, Rajasthan, and from then on diversified and never looked back. For hundreds of years the same attitude pervades in them to take risk and strike it on own. Establishing a business earns more respect than an university degree and entrepreneurship is strongly encouraged. Capital is readily available to an honest youth

Until the 12th century, the community depended on agriculture and cattle breeding. The Muslim occupation during this period forced them to shift to trade. From the time of Mughal empire they have emigrated to other Indian regions. The Mughal period was between 16-19th centuries and during the reign of Akbar (1542-1605) they have been employed in eastern Bengal state by Emperor Akbar to oversee food, ammunition and arms supplies. The community has a large presence in Calcutta, the capital of Bengal and expanded their businesses. Since then the Marwari entrepreneurs have been moving out of their home state Rajasthan to various parts of India

By 18th century the British firmly established their presence in Bengal: first, as a company and later as an empire. Calcutta was the major trading post for the British and Marwaris with their business skills made fortunes by becoming agents and brokers to the British. Some of the leading industrial houses founders started small here in Calcutta with major English firms. Most of the young Marwaris stayed community-run basas, or hostels. By late 19th century Marwaris dominated cotton and jute trade. They made huge profits speculating in jute, cotton and hessian during the World War I, which laid the platform for them to enter the many industrial careers.

To sell finished British goods in India, the foreign companies needed agents and offered good brokerage. Marwaris are quick to chase opportunities and take risks-seized the colonial trade, and moved where the action is – into ports as brokers and accumulated fabulous wealth. As the British traders evinced an interest in tea, jute, silver, gold and opium, the migrant traders quickly developed strong insights in these commodities and became indispensible for foreign companies, in turn, making enormous profits for themselves.

Source: Google

Joint Family Values

Each member of the Marwari community supportive of others and the community bonds are very strong. For instance, a businessperson might take an initiative to look after the well-being of unemployed or a needy person in his native village. As such, as a close-knit community they tend to preserve rituals and traditional values in distant lands. They have less ego issues and trained to do business and not to behave like royals.

For Marwari men and women’s lives revolve around the family. The harsh desert climate and absence of opportunities compelled enterprising young men to journey to other parts of the country. When they left, there was solid support of their fathers, uncles, and brothers back at home. Even if one failed, the security of joint family would cushion compared if only an individual was involved on stand-alone basis. Community as a support system is more visible among Marwaris and the strong social support that propels them towards entrepreneurship.

While the joint family infrastructure laid good foundations for taking risks, the community as whole quickly adapted to new cities and villages. In general, a Marwari shop or enterprise will accommodate young men by their established friends and relatives in the region before they are ready to strike on their own. It is the strong family ties that enable these businesses that binds and gives the freedom to take risks. For Marwaris family in ‘family-based business’ is important and sacrosanct. This is evident by the reverence the elders receive. It is not uncommon for a powerful CEO or industrialist to touch an elder relative’s feet as a sign of respect, even in the midst of a board meeting.

When a Marwari travelled on business, his wife and children were cared for in a joint family at home. Wherever he went in search of trade, he found shelter and good Marwari food in a basa, a sort of collective hostel run on a co-operative basis or as philanthropy by local Marwari merchants. Most of them do business and lend money within themselves. In case a Marwari needed money, he takes loan from another Marwari trader on the premise that it is payable on demand, even at midnight. The latter too reciprocate with a loan if requested. They tally and settle the interest at the end of the year. Community banks insure the goods in transit and traders collect dues on goods arrival. Nephews and son intern with other traders, where they earn wages through profit sharing, learn valuable business skills, and accrue capital to start their own enterprises after gaining necessary experience. Another feature that is attributed to their success of their enterprises and keeping their social identity is being able to blend well with the host culture they migrate to.

According to David McCelland, a social theorist observed that, the conservative, traditional communities have pivoted the production of industrial entrepreneurs. The core argument for this belief is that values and institutions that have roots in the joint family systems encouraged rather being barriers to fulfill the aspirations of the family members, even those with limited vision. The strong foundations of traditional values ingrained in the Marwari joint family system helped them become successful entrepreneurs.

Marwaris prefer to marry within their community as they are conservative and being a business community there are several factors that deter inter-caste marriages. However, in recent years the community is open to inter-caste marriages and choosing partners from outside the community. Some of the factors that are against inter-caste marriages are that the Marwaris follow a number of rituals which differ from others and there are compatibility issues as their culture is very different from other groups and castes. Due to their entrepreneurial spirit and being wealthy, the lack of equation can bring in difficulties. Thus, they might mingle with other groups but when at marriage they look within the community.

Certainly a unique community that over generations due favorable political and social conditions have prospered – seems by birth they have magic touch to make wealth!


About the Author

This article was written by Francis Eddu. contact.


“When Adam Draper does Crypto Standup, Singapore listens”



I live and work in Singapore and Santa Monica. Yes, I am blessed. However, my life has been by design, I think of what I want and so I make my life choices and make them happen in my life. Hence the bi-continent living and that comes with bi-continent and now global community living, being and ecosystems building. So I am now never surprised when one part of my world meets another.

I went to Wavemaker Partners venture capital event this evening, keen to meet Adam Draper, who is one of the many great presenters at Crypto Invest Summit, April 30- May 2 in Los Angeles.

Since I actively support leaders who are building scalable, sustainable businesses and movements for the betterment of many; of course I am learning about Blockchain and Cryptocurrency. I had been keen to report on the Crypto Invest Summit as I would be back in May to LA for my PhD programme. I was in communications with the organizers. However, I am being awarded an award at the Women Economic Forum in Delhi that same week and could not be physically present.

Still I wanted to report on the event, somehow.

I wanted to listen to the speakers and support some of the speakers who are already friends and experts I rely on for greater insights on cryptocurrency. I like learning and sharing with the greater audience, I have in Asia what I am learning from the US and vice versa. So I feel I had my chance tonight to do a bit of that.

I could not help but smile as Adam Draper shed light into his world of investing in more than 85 crypto related products because he was such a breath of fresh air to the last few Blockchain and Financial conferences I have been reporting on; especially here in Asia.

He just says it like it is.

He kept stopping the audience when they said Blockchain and he said, “You know you really mean cryptocurrency.”  He hit the nail on the head because I have seen so clearly how this phrase had been said in Singapore time and again – “I am not into cryptocurrency but I believe in Blockchain.”

When he said how there was an incongruity as he sat across bankers who personally invested in cryptocurrency and when faced with an inbound of requests from their clients on the same investment; are tied by regulations and are unable to respond.

Here’s some of his best lines. If you don’t laugh or “ah-ha” the way I did, you probably just had to be there. The truth is funny because it calls out for something we all see but sometimes just do not want to admit.

There is a growing understanding of the underlying thematics that the cryptocurrency world has been experiencing as the interface between centralize; de-centralize and personal autonomy becomes more and more apparent and lines get drawn.

Adam Says:

1) The newest phenomenon is that some of the ICO founders are now just so rich from their ICOs that they really don’t need to work on the project they asked for money for.

2) For the crypto-world, money doesn’t matter anymore!
They need talent

It’s so founder friendly now.

3) What Bitcoin made us ask is “What is money?”

The next question is “What is government and governance?”

He highlighted if an entrepreneur is looking for a problem to solve., then the entrepreneur is always looking for horrible industries with poor services and high costs. So yes – Governments are those horrible industries and they need to be disrupted.

4)  Any company who comes to an investor and leads with how much ICO has raised; is a red flag. Leave immediately and go read a Harry Potter book instead.
If they are leading with value and not the problem they are solving. Beware. (read more here

5) If you are going to invest in where the brains are. It’s in crypto.

6) Philosophically, Coinbase is against ethos of what Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency movement is trying to do. However to do such a move from fiat to digital currency, there would need a way to do that. So Coinbase acts like a browser does for internet. One day there will be no need to cash in or out as everyone is already there on digital. Cryptocurrency is the exchange of value. His advice and we know his bias as he is invested in  Coinhako; is to hold onto an exchange for 3-5 years since onboarding of all users to the new digital currency will take some time.

Adam met with many banks and government bodies on his trip to Singapore – I hope they got his truths.

I ended the night by thanking Adam for making me laugh. He reminded me of how much I miss LA.

Want more of this?

If you are in LA on April 30 – May 2.



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Callum Connects

Adrian Reid, Founder of Enlightened Stock Trading



Adrian Reid escaped the rat race and became a knowledgeable trader. He now shares his trading knowledge and empowers others to take control of their stocks.

What’s your story?
After working 12-16 hour days in the corporate world for many years I had a moment of realisation on the 1 hour bus ride to work. It was here at this moment in time, I realised that I felt trapped, desperate and isolated. Trapped in a job I hated, and a life I had not designed. I had long been interested in investing, but I made the decision at that point to become the best trader I could possibly be and escape the rat race.
My dream was to be free; free of the 9 to 5, the commute, the stress and the exhaustion. I threw myself into my stock trading research and study and emerged 3 months later with the trading rules that would ultimately buy me my freedom. I am now retired from the corporate world, I trade full time and share my knowledge with other aspiring traders through my online education program which puts them in control and empowers them to take control and accountability for their trading results.

What excites you most about your industry?
So many people are trapped in jobs they don’t like or are feeling immense financial pressure in their life. Trading education is typically done extremely badly today because of the conflicts of interest in the industry. Fund managers want to hold onto your money forever; brokers want you to trade more frequently; forex brokers want you to use more leverage. Why? Because that is how they make their money.
By teaching traders how to develop and test their own stock trading systems I am able to empower them to find trading rules which fit their own personality, objectives and lifestyle. This is the only way for new traders to be successful. This process transforms people’s financial future, their relationship with money and wealth and gives them hope. I love that!

What’s your connection to Asia?
I recently spent 3 years living in Singapore which I absolutely loved. This put me in a good position to observe the other Asian markets. As a stock trader I am interested in many markets and economies around the world, however the Asian markets have some of the best potential for trading profits. I have traded stocks in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo and I have developed trading systems that work in many other Asian markets as well.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My favourite city is Singapore. After living in Singapore for 3 years my family fell in love with the city. Life is great in Singapore for the whole family and the pro-business and investing policies of the government make it a wonderful place to build your financial future as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
On a personal front: Find something you love, throw all your energy and passion into it.
On the wealth front: Spend less than you earn and invest the difference. Take control of your finances and always accept 100% responsibility for your investment decisions.

Who inspires you?
My wife Stephanie inspires me. Her commitment to everything she does, her compassion, her insights into people and her ability to uplift those around her, make me want to be a better person.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
No matter what we think we know, there will always be a different perspective that can change our opinion. In my own trading, I continually find that the truths I cling to are not absolute and they can be misleading if held onto dogmatically. Striking a balance between taking a stance and knowing when to change that stance based on new information is critical in all areas of life.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more action earlier on. My fear of mistakes (which still limits me on occasions, like most people) has always proven to be baseless. Playing small to avoid the embarrassment or pain of mistakes is very limiting and I would have taken more action earlier, if I had my time again.

How do you unwind?
To unwind I like to read, meditate, run and ride my mountain bike in the forest.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I just love the small island resort at Batu Batu. It is beautiful, isolated, quiet and surrounded by clean water, full of sealife. After a week at the resort I felt like a different person.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto. This book teaches the art of clear and structured communication. My time working as a business strategy consultant gave me a great appreciation for the importance of communication in business. Clear and effective communication can solve a myriad of challenges in your business and professional life, and as a strong communicator your employment prospects, business relationships, team performance and family life are all dramatically improved.

Shameless plug for your business:
Enlightened Stock Trading ( is the only stock market trading education business that empowers you, as an individual trader. It shows you how to design and test your own unique stock trading system that fits YOUR Personality, Objectives and Lifestyle. We have no conflicts of interest and we are focused on teaching you how to trade stocks profitably in a way that fits your life.
After working through the Enlightened Stock Trader Certification Program you will find yourself confident and empowered with your own battle tested trading system and trading plan to guide you through the markets.

How can people connect with you?
Email me directly at [email protected] or through my Facebook Page (

Twitter handle?

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here:

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