In dossier this month, we profile for our readers a few personalities, who have largely remained in the sidelines of diaspora news. Though each of them have made their mark in their own domains and are known in their communities for the work they have afforded during the course of their lifetimes so far, they have mostly remained out of the public eye. NRI Achievers profiles them for our readers.
Calm and full of compassion, Kantilal Vallabhdas is a resident of Lisbon, Portugal, who seems to have attained that ‘perfect’ coordination of beibng that belongs to a genius and the serenity of mind sought by so many but achieved by so few. Born in Mozambique on the 9th of June 1948, Kantilal had completed his primary education in the Mozambique, after which he was sent to Gujarat to complete his education.
Harking from a business family, Kantilal, soon after his education, was swept into the business world. He reached Portugal, where he established a company called ‘Brinde Ltda’ – mainly dealing in watches, electronics, lighters, promotional and gift items, etc.
His firm also specialises today in all types of pens, stocking a whole array of the world’s best known brands. In addition, they market clocks, key-chains, purses and wallets, briefcases, card holders, beach accessories, umbrellas, backpacks, school bags, caps, beachwear and numerous gift items. The core business of his company is not wholesale, but import. He has also built up an excellent distribution network to market his merchandise. Yet another activity is to export goods to Angola and other Portugese speaking territories.
Operating from his own premises of over 8000 square meters, all operations of the enterprise are under one roof for the sake of consolidation and convenience. Office space, showrooms, display units, storage and warehousing all reside in one building. This has proven to be a great advantage for logistics reasons. A close-knit family of five brothers – Kantilal, Mahender, Hamsukhlal, sesikante and Subash – they handle all day-to-day operations, and coordination has proven to be their key to success.
Apart from this imports and distribution business, Kantilal is involved in realty as well. His group owns a farmhouse in the suburbs of Lisbon, which is today converted into a seniors’ house with independent units let-out on rent.
The key strengths of this business is family management. Recently, along with the five brothers managing the show, two scions of the newer generation have joined hands torun the operations. Now with fresh blood getting infused, the group plans to expand business activities to neighbouring Spain as well. In the not-too-distant future, they plan to open an import-cum-distribution centre in Madrid.
Kantilal is a devotee of Shiva, and his lifetime ambition has been to establish a Shiva temple in Portugal, having toiled with the idea for 18 long years now. He has now realised his desires, with the Portugese government allotting him and his group a large tract of land in the central Lisbon area free of cost. So far Kantilal has succeeded in erecting the main hall of the temple, which can accommodate about a 1000 devotees. There is stgill the need to build other facilities and give the mandir a proper shape. Devotees meet here regularly on Sundays to offer prayers, Shiv dhuni and aarti. On auspicious occassions, large gatherings are the norm here for attending ceremonies and rites. Most religious leaders, Sadhus and Swamis who come to Portugal visit this Shiv Mandir.
A keen social worker as well, Kantilal is always in the forefront for any worthwhile cause of the community. As the president of the Shiv mandir Committee, he is fully involved, directing his efforts and energy toward keeping tabs on running the temple on a sound footing. He is also organising classes for children, even offering computer courses to the young gratis. His avowed mission is to serve the Shiv mandir in every possible manner and make it the proud possession of the hindu community in Portugal. With his undying faith in Lord Shiva, his hard work and good-wishes from all, it is quite foreseeable that in the not-too-distant future, his dream will indeed be fulfilled.