By Jola Chudy
Vrinda Gupta explains how a setback at university propelled her to open her own business
When Vrinda Gupta was a youngster she dreamed of running her own business. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and start my own company, but I wanted to work in another company first for a few years after my graduation,” she says.
The 24-year-old Indian studied in the UK, firstly a Business Management undergraduate degree at CAS Business School in London and later a masters, specialising in marketing, at the University of Bath.
And so came her graduation. And then… Nothing.
“When I started applying and looking at companies, I saw that 80 percent of the companies that I was interested in, they did not sponsor international students. And even the ones that did, gave preference to students who had a British passport because, of course, why would they want to pay extra for hiring someone from outside the country?
“In the UK, 40 percent or even more of the students are international students, so I saw people around me struggling with the same, because everyone wanted to have a job in the UK and live there for a while. But it became more and more difficult,” she says.
“I hold an Indian passport, which is a relatively weaker passport, you could say. So I’ve always struggled with applying for a visa when I have to travel; I have to wait for a certain amount of time; and this is the same for anyone who has a relatively weaker passport.”
This channelled Gupta’s entrepreneurial spirit and she began to look into exploiting this gap in the market, travelling the world and researching the necessary steps to be able to live and work in another country, thus propelling her towards her first business venture.
“It was frustrating seeing the preference being given to someone because they had a certain passport. I started researching and I saw how this industry is booming. It’s still not saturated, but it’s an up and coming industry and there is a lot of demand for this kind of product,” she says.
“This is because of geopolitical conditions, conflicts, a lot of things, even Brexit; there are so many reasons. I ultimately identified it as a good business opportunity.”
Gupta’s entrepreneurial spirit runs in the family. Her father, Viraz, is also an entrepreneur, starting off in the real estate industry before founding Vazir Management Consultancy, a human resources provider for companies all over the world, over 10 years ago.
Vazir Group was founded by Gupta and her father under the banner of his existing business, with both operating out of their Business Bay offices in Dubai. She admits that her co-founder can be quite the task master.
She says: “When people look at me and I tell them I’m working for my parents, it looks like it’s very easy, but it’s certainly not easy.
“There are more expectations and, with your own family, I always want to fulfil those expectations and if I go wrong anywhere he’s harder on me. It is difficult. But it’s the kind of experience I wanted through working with someone else, and I think I’m getting.”
Vazir Group, which employs 11 members of staff, is a global immigration boutique service, enabling high net worth individuals (HNWI) and their families to invest and live in another country – providing people with a way to gain second nationalities/permanent residencies.
The group offers residency opportunities in Canada, Malta, Greece, Portugal, USA, Cyprus and throughout the Caribbean.
In Canada, in particular, it is providing access to two programs aimed at encouraging business investment from MENA into Canada, while providing the investor with a secure Canadian permanent residency that allows visa-free travel to 172 countries.
This is in line with Canada’s Multi-Year Immigration Levels Plan set-out by the government that is designed to welcome around 1 million new immigrants between 2018 and 2020. Under the scheme, Canada is expected to accept 330,000 new permanent residents this year.
One thing Gupta has had to learn since the business was launched last year, is the art of patience.
She says: “It’s a slow process. In the beginning we had to be patient because we weren’t expecting that, but now we’ve realised this is how it works. It’s a slow industry.
“We were expecting it to be more like real estate, where people come and make a decision and it’s done. It is a little slower than that.”
She admits that she has been fortunate to strike the right blend when it comes to youth and experience. While dealing with people in such a high stakes environment, at such a young age may have its drawbacks, she has made sure she has plenty ‘old heads’ around her.
“I think my age is a strength because I’ve recently seen all of this happening when I was in university and I’ve used that. I know how important it is for people; I know how important it was for me when I was going through university. If I had another passport it would’ve been a lot easier for me,” she says.
“But of course it has its drawbacks. A lot of people, because of my age, the trust factor is not there. But luckily I have a lot of great people around me. My general manager is from Deyaar, he worked there for 15 years. We have a guy who worked for the Canadian Embassy for 16/17 years. These are the kind of people who are helping me when it comes to experience.
“There are many things that I have not seen or have not learned, you only learn through time and experience and this is where they come in place and they can tell me what to do and how to go about it.”