By Ram Khatry, Sydney
27 May 2017
The only Nepalese couple to appear consecutively in the BRW Rich 200 List over the past eight years is mere $353 million shy of joining the billionaires club.
Use of the adjective “mere” to describe the $353 difference is well-justified given their convincing track record of creating wealth. Since 2012 alone, Shesh and Jamuna Ghale have added a whopping $392 million to their net worth. That is, in six years time.
“To be honest not anytime soon, we may have created something of a value but it is a process-work and independent valuation-driven and this value is dependent upon many factors some are within your reach while others are beyond your control. Wealth runs on roller-coaster too,” Mr Ghale responded when asked when Nepalese people can expect to have their second billionaire (the first one being Kathmandu-based industrialist Binod Chaudhary).
In 2012, BRW reported their fortune at $255 million as opposed to $647 million this year. At this rate, they aren’t far from hitting the billion dollar mark but the couple known for their down to earth lifestyle aren’t racing. As seasoned business persons, Mr and Mrs Ghale have their feet on the ground because they very well know that “wealth runs on roller-coaster”.
BRW Rich List 2017 has ranked them 101st among the 200 richest Australians, a satisfactory improvement over last year’s 105th position. To put it simply, this year they are $61 million richer than in 2016. A noticeable fact about the most recognised couple of the Nepalese diaspora is that their fortune has gone only one direction – upward, since they debuted in the BRW Rich List in 2009.
All this achievement despite the fact that over the past four and half years they have diverted a great deal of their time and resources to philanthropy as they continually strive to give back to their country of origin. Their leadership in the reconstruction of post-earthquake Nepal has in particular been well-appreciated both at home and abroad.
Mr Ghale, as the president of the global Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), has lately spent more time in his tent than in the boardroom of Argus Building, the headquarters of MIT Group. Since 2015, the Ghales have traded the comfort of their Melbourne home for the harsh environment of Laprak Village, not far from the ground zero of the devastating Nepal earthquake. There, they are leading the Nepalese diaspora’s bid to build a model village of 573 homes that will eventually be handed over to the victims of the 7.8 magnitude temblor.
Despite the philanthropic deviation, Mr Ghale has no regret. “When you lose focus and are not on the ground, lots of things and opportunities you miss but no regrets at all,” he said when asked if their philanthropy has impacted the operations of MIT Group.
He further said that since he took over the diaspora movement, he has constantly been learning and is still learning, “Definitely since April 2015 both of us spent majority of time in Nepal. Although our relief work was impeccable, reconstruction efforts have not yet produced desired outcomes but we are trying our best.”
His time in building the Laprak Model Village has been “a great trade off and a steep learning curve on philanthropic endeavours under Nepalese circumstances”.
“You try to give but found out GIVING IS NOT EASY,” the founder of Melbourne Institute of Technology reflected.
When asked if he is concerned about the future of the ongoing construction project of Laprak Model Village after his tenure ends later in the year, Mr Ghale expressed confidence it would sail smoothly. “It is a project of NRNA. Many NRNs as well as other members of the community trusted in me and put their heart and soul into the project. So I am absolutely confident that NRNA and its future leaders will successfully complete the project,” he mentioned.
Nearly 30 percent of the Laprak project is now complete. If not for some unexpected challenges, the entire project would have been completed by his tenure which ends in October this year, he clarified.
Mr Ghale’s MIT Group is also cleared to build a twin tower in the heart of Melbourne City. The proposed apartments and a hotel, once completed, will look over the iconic Flagstaff Gardens and Queen Victoria Market.
According to the education entrepreneur, he is currently caught with a downturn in the apartments market. “However, reworking towards high-end apartment market as opposed to economy which was our initial plan. Anchored hotel project is a definite one. We will also integrate retail complex in the mix,” Mr Ghale told southasia.com.au.
Mr Ghale was born in Nayu, an idyllic village some four hours drive from the headquarters of Lamjung district in Western Nepal. He arrived in Australia in the early 1990s as international student.