By Patrick Jonas
He hails from a community that is known for its business acumen.
That said, education is close to his heart and Mr Chandra Prakash Kabra, a Marwari, has not moved far away from both in making his mark in Singapore.
The Bhilwara-born Kabra moved to Mumbai in 1983 after getting his commerce degree to pursue his ambition of becoming a chartered accountant.
He excelled in his exams in his very first attempt which, according to him, only four out of 10,000 achieve and he went on to acquire a company secretary degree.
Most people at this stage would have decided to either run a successful accountancy practice or join a big business house.
Not Mr Kabra.
Having worked as an industrial trainee with Cadbury while doing his accountancy studies, he opted to work with a firm making detergents.
Three years later, he became the executive director of Sreeji Industries, a company based near the Gujarat-Rajasthan border that dealt in importing machines for cutting and polishing stones.
But the businessman in him was always looking out for opportunities and it came his way in 1994.
"Being an entrepreneur, I have always looked forward to opportunities and I saw potential in Singapore at that point in time. Since it was a call from the heart and mind together, I came to Singapore and ventured into granite and marble export-import as I could see good potential in this sector," said Mr Kabra, a permanent resident here, of how he came to set up his business in Woodlands.
That business, named Indian Granite and Marbles, is now flourishing.
The company counts around 200 distributors in Singapore and some of the marble and granite supplied by the company adorn several MRT stations and condominiums here.
As the years passed, Mr Kabra sensed another business opportunity. He noticed that many Indian professionals were moving to Singapore thanks to the Government and businesses here embracing IT in a big way.
Most of these professionals in the IT industry were employed for short- to medium-term stints.
He was confident that if he were to get an accredited and established brand name in the field of education, he could satisfy the needs of these professionals who were looking for a school for their children.
"As an entrepreneur, you need little time to appreciate the requirement of schooling. And fortunately the idea was welcomed by the Economic Development Board," said Mr Kabra on how DPS International School (DPSIS) was set up. He added that he got the fullest support from all the government agencies, saying "this can happen only in Singapore".
The school started in 2004 with 157 students in the premises of two former local schools (Charlton and Aroozoo primary) off Upper Serangoon Road.
DPSIS proved to be a big success and now has a problem of space.
There are 1,700 students on the school's rolls and, requiring more room, it has sought permission to open another campus with CBSE and IB curriculum.
The aim is to cater to parents who want their children to follow these two curriculums, especially since most students who attend DPS schools in India follow the CBSE system.
Mr Kabra said the school has also applied to build its own campus in Singapore, like how United World College has done in Tampines.
He does not think that the tightening of the labour market will affect the school, saying it may have an impact in the short term.