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A ‘can-do’ city where he grabbed the opportunity,explored,did

Some outsiders might suspect that there is something in the humid sea air that makes Mumbai’s taxi drivers,its tired commuters,the quaint dabbawallahs and the quintessential entrepreneurs to keep reaffirming that the show must go on despite the frequent crises and tragedies the financial capital witnesses.

Written by Swarup Chakraborty | Mumbai | January 6, 2009 12:10:16 am

Some outsiders might suspect that there is something in the humid sea air that makes Mumbai’s taxi drivers,its tired commuters,the quaint dabbawallahs and the quintessential entrepreneurs to keep reaffirming that the show must go on despite the frequent crises and tragedies the financial capital witnesses. But when it comes from Rashesh Shah,it needs to be taken much more seriously.

As someone who rose from the ranks to reach the top notches of the financial services industry,Shah attributes it to the “can-do” spirit of the megapolis.

“These things will never bring Mumbai down,” says the Chairman and Managing Director of Edelweiss Capital,referring to the terrorist carnage of 26/11. “People face hard times,they struggle but the entrepreneurial spirit never ceases,this city defines you and if you have a dream you can achieve it here.”

He should know. Shah realised his dream of heading a financial services firm — which has a market value of over

Rs 2,100 crore— after starting out as an employee of ICICI like thousands others. “In the financial services arena,Mumbai is undoubtedly the number one city. No other city provides you the opportunity to explore and get what you want to like in Mumbai. Though cities like Delhi are fast catching up,Mumbai is still far ahead,” he says.

As someone who started off as a professional,the entrepreneur in Shah was intelligent enough to understand and bank on the opportunities that a liberalised economy offered. In spite of coming from a family that sold school notebooks,Shah never wanted to join his father’s business and instead pursued higher education. After an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad,he worked for ICICI and subsequently with Prime Securities as head of research. It was in April 1995 that Shah decided to form Edelweiss with three employees.

“Initially it was tough for us as by the end of 1995,the state of the economy was looking bleak. The first three years were very bad but we continued to look at opportunities and things began to look up a bit in 1998-2000 and by 2001,Edelweiss had grown to 11 employees,” says Shah. Today with 1,800 employees and 60 offices in 25 cities,the company,listed on the stock exchanges,is an example of the entrepreneurial spirit Mumbai allows to be nurtured and the opportunities Shah used by being at the right place at the right time. Edelweiss’ businesses include investment banking,institutional equities,private client broking,asset management,wealth management,mutual funds,wholesale financing and financial products distribution.

“Three traits that differentiate Mumbai from any other city are enterprise,the hustle and the get-it-done attitude of people. Indeed it is a very harsh city and people have to struggle a lot but the returns that the city offers in terms of new opportunities is also tremendous,” says Shah. He is undeterred by the terror attacks and says the spirit of Mumbai cannot be broken.

On the present state of the economy,he says that this too,shall pass. “There is an economic slowdown and we have seen situations like these in the past. We have seen bad times during 1986-88,1995-98 and 2001-2003,however,I must say that whatever comes down must go up. In a year or two things should get back to normal,” says Shah. Like the flower edelweiss which grows in rocky places,he hopes Mumbai and the financial world will also overcome the rocky terrain and hold on to its resilience.

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