The Nepalese noodle seller who became a billionaire

The Nepalese noodle seller who became a billionaire

KATHMANDU - Run by Maoist revolutionaries and plagued by poverty, Nepal is not the most obvious place to make big bucks.

But Binod Chaudhary, the country's first billionaire, sees no reason why his breakthrough shouldn't inspire other success stories.

"I am proof to the younger generation that you can accomplish things here," Chaudhary told AFP as he surveyed a smog-choked Kathmandu from his penthouse, which is decorated with classical Nepalese art and wood carvings.

"Nepal has the potential to make a quantum leap within a very short period of time," said the entrepreneur, who took over the family's import-export business and turned it into a global conglomerate.

The 57-year-old industrialist heads the family-run Chaudhary Group. It has diverse holdings spread across several countries including Singapore-based Cinnovation, which has interests in hospitality, real estate, finance and cement.

He is best known for his flagship brand Wai Wai noodles, which he launched in Nepal in the mid-1980s. Manufacturing expanded to India in 2005 and they are now sold in 30 Asian countries.

Earlier this month, the married father of three sons became the first Nepalese to be named in Forbes magazine's billionaire rich list - a recognition he likened to winning a Nobel.

"Today's economy is one of ideas, and there's no monopoly on ideas in rich countries, they can come from Nepal too," said the fan of Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who he cites as a role model.

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