Wed, 09 August 2023
Vijay Boloor is a serial entrepreneur, having spent more than 40 years in Bahrain. As a board member of the Bahrain India Society, he was recently elected as its Treasurer. He spoke to Bahrain This Month about his career and the BIS’ ability to open doors for budding businessmen.
Could you give us a summary of your four decades in Bahrain?
I came to the Gulf in 1977 and I started my career in Dubai working for the British Bank of the Middle East, which is now HSBC, until 1984. I originally came with another bank but quickly moved to another company, and since then I have been the Director of Gajria Holdings. My wife was born in Bahrain and I myself have been a Bahraini citizen for 20 years now.
When did you know that you were an entrepreneur?
I’ve always been interested in business. My father was involved in Bollywood with the legendary Mehboob Khan and I almost followed him into the industry as a script writer and director! However, that wasn’t my path and I knew my heart was set on entrepreneurship.
What are your thoughts on doing business in Bahrain both as an expatriate and now as a Bahraini?
Originally as an expatriate, businesses were restricted in terms of the percentage of business you could hold or even enter at all. Gradually, the Kingdom, thanks to the wise decisions of His Majesty King Hamad, have made it much easier; very few businesses are restricted no matter where you are from. This is a great thing in order to create jobs and opportunities in this wonderful country, and now expatriates can own businesses completely. They have the full confidence to put their money into the Kingdom.
What advantage do companies have by operating in Bahrain compared to elsewhere in the GCC?
Whilst we are aiming to open the GCC market to investors in Bahrain, or at least the opportunity to expand, Bahrain is much less expensive to establish a company thanks to its extremely business-friendly nature and it’s a great option to live here comfortably.
You were recently elected as the Treasurer of the Bahrain India Society (BIS). What achievements have you accomplished so far?
It’s my sixth year on the board and I am proud to have been elected as its Treasurer! We have a membership of 120 which includes both prominent members and company representatives. We have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the BIS and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the main objective of which is to promote industrial and business relationships and facilitate investors on both sides.
What is the main advantage of being a member of the BIS?
The biggest advantage is networking. We host frequent talks with business leaders, government officials and ministers, giving people the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the business environment. You can expand your business through contacts, and there’s no other way to hold talks with a hundred CEOs at formal and informal dinners!
Do you have any advice for expatriates who wish to set up a business in Bahrain?
At the moment, what I like to call ‘new age’ businesses are booming. Financial and digital technology businesses are more likely to succeed as they don’t involve too much inventory or human resources. Of course, the passion and determination to work hard is just as important as the idea itself.