Archive for the ‘Amancio Ortega’ Category

Go to many central high streets of the world’s capitals or main cities and one of the names amongst some of the other globally recognized names that you will see is one consisting of a simple four letters, ZARA.


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Zara is now a colossal international giant with a presence all over the world. Though having its clothes worn by many who are, or more importantly would like to be thought of, as sophisticated, glamorous and trendy ironically the founder of this company is in fact to this day quiet a simple, modest person despite being the richest person in Europe, richer than the Queen of England or the King of Spain. Spain is in fact the country where Zara founder, Amancio Ortega was born, grew up in and lives in till this day.

Europe's richest man, Amancio Ortega.

Europe’s richest man, Amancio Ortega.

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Amancio Ortega was born in the north of Spain. Spain is a state consisting of many different regions and also races with their own language and distinct identity such as the fiercely proud Catalans and Basques. Galicia is also another part of Spain where the people speak their own language, Gallego, (similar to Portuguese) and millions of people in Latin America and elsewhere through out the world who are of Spanish ancestry come from that particular region, as did Spain’s ruler for a large part of the twentieth century, general Francisco Franco. However Ortega was not born in Galicia or as a Gallego but in a small village called  Busdongo de Arbás in the Leon region of Spain.

Busdongo in Leon. A mountain features in the background amidst fog, a far cry to the sunny weather of other regions of Spain most are familiar with.

Busdongo in Leon. A mountain features in the background amidst fog, a far cry from the sunny weather of other regions of Spain most are familiar with.

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Ortega grew up in Leon during his childhood and it was in his adolescence that he moved to La Coruna, the second biggest city in Galicia and where he still lives today, next to the Atlantic Ocean.

The port city of  La Coruna on the shores of the Atlantic where Ortega started off his career and where he lives today.

The port city of La Coruna on the shores of the Atlantic where Ortega started off his career and where he lives today.

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Upon moving to Coruna, Ortega ended up getting a job at the age of fourteen for a shirtmaker in that town called Gala. Ortega’s father was a railway worker and had left their native Leon for work reasons. The family had financial problems and Amancio, the youngest got this job to help the family out, little did he know it would be the first step in making him a billionaire and richer than the king of Spain, the successor to the Spanish royal throne that once ruled much of Europe and much of the Americas.

Ortega’s formula

Ortega decided business success lay in identifying what customers wanted and giving that to them as opposed to creating products and then marketing it to make customers want them. All this was to be done with speed. It is this speed which more than anything else characterizes Zara and differentiates it from other fashion retailers. The sheer speed with which new design lines and new products are created and then displayed at shops is not matched by others.

Ortega opened his first Zara shop in Coruna in 1974 and then in the comparatively short time of 6 years he went from having his first shop in his adopted home town to expanding in to a foreign country, Portugal in 1980. Then in the following decades it continued to expand across Europe and overseas including the USA, Asia, Africa and elsewhere.

The company is an integrated operation controlling the whole line of business from design on to production on to distribution and retail selling, unlike other fashion designers or textile companies. So though some companies have hired some ex-Zara designers they have not been able to replicate other aspects of the companies entire operational process which is a comprehensive one from conceptual design to the customer buying from the till.

Ortega is still involved in running Zara and is the head of the parent company, Inditex.

Ortega’s simple lifestyle and charity work.

Many articles and journalists have spoken much of Ortega’s modest lifestyle, which in their eyes is an exception to a norm. Whether that exception is something positive or negative in their view is not totally clear. However, yes Ortega hardly gives interviews to the media. Ortega does not travel abroad that much and yes he has not chosen to live in a lavish mansion somewhere. What these journalists however often omit to mention is his charity work.

Ortega runs the “Fundacion Amancio Ortega” (FAO) or Amancio Ortega Foundation, a charity which runs a number of projects including educational ones.

Students in the FAO's (Fundacion Amancio Ortega) BECAS high school project.

Students in the FAO’s (Fundacion Amancio Ortega) BECAS high school project.

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One of the FAO’s projects is in conjunction with Spain’s Agrónomos Sin Fronteras (Agronomists without frontiers)

Pictures of some of the projects the FAO is involved in.

Pictures of some of the projects the FAO is involved in.

Spain and Galicia in particular seem to be proud of this successful Spaniard who has shown the world that though you can be rich you can continue to live a modest, down to earth life with your close family and among the community that you grew up with.

– Jahan


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I, Jahan Choudhry, am not a millionaire, but I am in fact a billionaire.

Let me elaborate on how I am a billionaire.

According to Forbes there are 1,426 billionaires in the world. Click here to read the article.



1. Carlos Slim

According to this article, Mexico’s Carlos Slim is currently the richest man on earth.

Slim started off his professional life as a trader and went on to become a tycoon in many different fields including construction, food, mining and many other sectors.



2. Bill Gates

Bill Gates is the universally known founder of Microsoft, a company whose operating system is on most computers around the world from California to Canberra.



3. Amancio Ortega.

Third in this list came Spain’s Amancio Ortega, Europe’s richest man. Ortega is a self-made billionaire who started off from humble beginnings in Spain’s Galicia region to develop global fashion giant, Zara.


So am I one of these 1,426 official billionaires and do I hob-knob with the likes of Carlos Slim, Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega and the other thousand or so billionaires in the world? Do I play golf with Carlos Slim and say “Carlos, mi querido amigo Mexicano que tal?” (Carlos, my dear Mexican friend, how’s things) or do I play cards with Bill Gates and say “Yo Billy Boy, howya doing?” or do I have barbecues with Amanico Ortega and say “Amancio, Hey wassup?”. Am I on first name terms with such people.

No I am not.

Nor do I necessarily desire to be, not that there is anything wrong with that and I am share there is much I can learn from them.

So the question is how am I a billionaire?

Wealth is measured in assets

Wealth is measured not just in monetary terms in  the sense of dollars or pounds or any other currency but in what you own. Many people do not even have a million dollars or pounds in terms of money but have a house, business or other properties which are accumulatively worth over a million and are thus considered millionaires. They are thus considered millionaires due to their assets.

I, just like you too, have assets which I regard as worth  more than a billion dollars. These include some loved ones who if I had to chose between a billion dollars and them I would instantly in a heart beat without hesitation chose them. So of course would you. They are more important to me than yachts, private jets, lavish villas or anything else. Thus I am a billionaire.

I, Jahan Choudhry, am a billionaire.

Being aware of this fact and appreciating the true wealth in my life allows me to put things in their proper perspective and allows me to be very grateful for what I have and of course to naturally realize monetary wealth and physical assets are not everything. I am sure Carlos Slim would give up one billion dollars to regain the wife he lost in 1999, Soumaya.

slim wife

Slim’s late wife, Soumaya, before her death.

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I am sure all of us would do the same. A loved on is an asset worth more than a billion dollars and all of us have loved ones whose lives are more precious to us than any replaceable or even irreplacable (e.g. unique pieces or art) physical objects. Thus I am a billionaire with assets, loved ones, worth billions, and so are you.


I am a billionaire.

You too are a billionaire.

Appreciate what you have, cherish it and smile.

Have a great day and thank you for reading.


– Jahan Choudhry, billionaire.

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