Mohnish Pabrai is the chairman of the Dakshana Foundation and is known for making his fortune in investment capitalism by starting as a standard software engineer. He opened his firm, Transtech Inc which sold for $20 million within merely nine years. Meanwhile, Mohnish Pabrai has established a connection to Warren Buffet and Charly Munger that goes beyond mentorship and can be considered friendship.
But why did Pabrai choose to help the education sector?
Pabrai was a child that grew up in the busy city of Mumbai in India carrying the same dreams as all the others; get an education and score a great job.
Mohnish Pabrai was like an average Gujrati Indian teen, with the same values and similarly brought up, with not even enough money to buy groceries.
Pabrai had very low self-esteem and he did not perform well until grade 9 when he switched to a school with high-performing students. An IQ test conducted there revealed his brilliance when he scored the highest.
However, his grades did not reflect his intelligence until then. From then onwards, his grades started improving every few months till he graduated, ranking 3rd in high school and 1st in college.
He came to the USA in 1983 to study software engineering and after graduating from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Clemson University, Pabrai started working in Tellabs’ research and development department.
His professor advised him to major in investment financing instead of software, foreseeing his gifts. Pabrai himself found business easier than others considering his father was a small businessman.
Pabrai argues that his quality education and exposure to good professors brought him to his destiny.
He believes many young minds in India are not able to achieve such guidance due to a lack of resources.
Until the age of 30, Pabrai had no idea who Warren Buffet was and what investors or venture capitalists did for a living.
Just imagine, an average guy with his coffee and tie, 9-5 job turned into a businessman. That might sound like an achievement many people work their whole lives for.
One day, Pabrai randomly read a book by Warren Buffet which inspired him to clone his business.
In the year 2000, he sold his company for US$20 million establishing Pabrai Investment Fund; thus embarking on his lifelong journey of becoming a successful businessman and investor.
Even with a current net worth of US$100 million, Mohnish Pabrai remembers his humble roots and believes in giving back to society through Dakshana Foundation. Dakshana is a Sanskrit word that means to give back. It aims to help and build better futures for the poverty-ridden areas and people in India.
The organization was founded in 2005 and aims to help abolish poverty through education. They provide IIT and medical entry test preparation in rural villages. Pabrai. This would give students a chance to attend an elite school.
Many brilliant minds are unable to apply themselves because they don’t know how to prepare for a college’s entry test.
Dakshana prepares for high school as well as university-level entry tests.
The Indian JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) high achieving students include hundreds of children from the Dakshana Foundation.
Top business minds and retired personnel are available to tutor and counsel young people to choose definitive paths. Dakshana has invested over 130 crore Indian Rupees in quality education so far.
Pabrai has been able to use his investor experience and ideology in generating funds for the foundation. He calls it “value investing” and believes that he is investing in a better future for the collective society.
In 2007 Pabrai bid US$650,100 with Guy Spier to have a charity lunch with Warren Buffet; the proceedings of which went to Glide Foundation which helps the homeless get back on their feet. Recently Warren Buffet praised Mohnish Prabai and his efforts with the Dakshana foundation.
A chance at education and the right book changed the destiny of Mohnish Pabrai. Whether we call it fate or pure luck, with a little hard work and dedication, everyone has the chance of similar success.
Let’s just hope that following Pabrai, we too, use our success for the betterment of others.