MOULDED BY RESPONSIBILITIES
When Nepal Government brought forward the concept of ‘Big Merger’ during the Fiscal Year 2076/77 BS (2019), the first to do so were Janata Bank and Global IME Bank. The brain behind this initiation, Chandra Prasad Dhakal, also takes pride in being the pioneer in carrying out Nepal Rastra Bank’s directives of merging cross-holding financial institutions when IME Finance and Global Bank were merged. Confident, but not arrogant, he is hardworking and dedicated. Currently the Chairman of Global IME Bank and also the Vice President of FNCCI, Dhakal is one of the very few humble and hardworking people we have come across in recent years. TNM, in conversation with Dhakal, explores his journey as he broadens his horizon one financial institution at a time.
RISING FROM NECESSITY
Dhakal was not born into a family with business background. He was the eldest son of a simple family in a village in Baglung, where he completed his schooling. “Back in the days, it used to be a difficult step for people like us to come to Kathmandu to pursue further studies, however I managed to do so and enrolled at People’s Campus, Pakanajoj,” says Dhakal. “But I didn’t have enough money to meet the basic needs, so I started working as well,” he adds.
Dhakal defines himself as a hardworking person, which he credits as one of his noteworthy qualities that helped him become who he is today. Now in his mid-50s, Dhakal is one of the most successful business persons in the nation. Humble in heart but aggressive in business, his realisation of responsibilities towards his family guided him to work hard and grow. “I lost my father when I was 17 years old. The untimely demise of my father instilled a sense of responsibility to look after my mother and younger siblings,” he reflects. “The person I am today is the result of me making every effort to ensure my family’s comfort and happiness.”
THE IDEA BEHIND IME
The idea of establishing IME seems to have sprung from necessity rather than an ambition. “I had some experience in the banking sector as I worked in Rastriya Banijya Bank from 2045 to 2050 BS (1988-1993). Similarly, I myself had experienced difficulties while sending money home when I spent a year in Japan. This made me aware about the problems that a lot of Nepalis working abroad, especially in Malaysia, were facing while sending their hard-earned money home.”
Back then, the only official channel to bring in remittance were banks, however, according to Dhakal, they were not easily accessible as the process was time consuming and other hindrances like mismatch of account numbers and name of the account holder made the process extra longer. This is when he felt the necessity for a formal channel and hence conceived the idea of establishing IME Remit.
However, he hardly makes decisions under the influence of emotions, and adds, “Before venturing into any business, I always weigh in three things: Does it provide service to the general public? Does it benefit the government? And, can the business make profit and be sustained? I did the same back then and saw a prospect in the field of remittance, and here we are today.”
VENTURING INTO COMMERCIAL BANK
“After some years of operation, we found it challenging to compete with other banks. So, as a solution, we established IME finance,” shares Dhakal. “Despite that, we still couldn’t handle foreign currencies from a finance company so later we established Global Bank,” he adds.
Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) on October 7, 2007 issued a circular to merge cross-holding commercial institutions and adhering to the circular, Dhakal and his team merged Global Bank with IME Finance, giving birth to Global IME Bank.
“At present, after the merger with Janata Bank, Global IME Bank is the confluence of 18 different financial institutions which include banks and finance companies having 19 billion paid-up capital and 24 billion reserve capital as well as more than 300 branches across 77 districts,” exclaims Dhakal.
But is he satisfied with what he has achieved so far? “Theoritically speaking, I should be. But I believe that there is still so much I can do and achieve,” he answers.
MOVING FORWARD WITH A VISION
When asked to share the most joyous moment of his journey so far, he contemplates briefly and says, “I cannot say this or that, but there have been many such moments. I especially feel content when a project I have been working on rigorously turns out to be successful one. The latest has to be when the merger of Janata Bank and IME Global got materialised.”
Talking about his future plans, he further says, “At present, the only thing I can say is I must work hard and focus on the projects we are currently involved in. I don’t have any dreams I want to pursue as such but I want to keep on working in the field of tourism and education.”
So, did he start IME remit two decades ago without an aim? “No business is started without a certain dream or a goal, however obscure they may be. But what I have realised throughout these years is that dreams are formed and gradually grow along with the business,” he says. “When I lost my father, for example, I really had nothing on my mind except fulfilling the basic needs of my family. But with the gradual progress, my responsibility also evolved. My concern at present is how to consolidate everything and ensure the smooth running of the company, how to ensure the better dividends for the shareholders, how to provide better benefits to the staff members, et cetera,” he explains.
MANTRA TO GAIN MOMENTUM
Dhakal puts an emphasis on the importance of maintaining equilibrium at all times. He is also a firm believer in taking right decision at the right time. “A business loses its track if one cannot learn to maintain equilibrium accordingly. But that doesn’t mean you are allowed to be egoistic,” he explains. “So, I think one must be flexible enough to maintain equilibrium and managing your character,” he adds.
When asked about what role his teammates play in his success story, he says, “You can go nowhere in the absence of a qualified team. I am thankful that I have honest and hardworking people by my side.”
They say that the more you grow in business, the more challenges come along your way. At one point of time, IME Group was the centre of controversies over construction of Chandragiri Hills Resort. They were accused of intruding public land and made headlines for days. When asked about his take on these issues, he says, “Yes, we were pulled into controversies over Chandragiri land. It was natural for the local public to raise this issue as the land where Chandragiri Hills Resort is constructed is a public property. However, it is now sorted out and we are running smoothly by providing ample services to the visitors.” Along the line, he also adds, “Everything that we did in and around Chandragiri, we did it with hard work and fervour. Our main aim was to provide convenience to people who wanted to visit a historic landmark and I think we have succeeded in doing so.”