He lost his father at the age of 10. From then on it was a story of sheer struggle for the Class-V student of a government-run Hindi medium school.
Youngest among three brothers and a sister, Laxman Jaiswal completed his graduation in commerce from North City College. He arranged his tuition fees by giving private tuitions and taking up small jobs.
Jaiswal's story is full of improbabilities. He had let go two of his jobs -- one in the police department and the other one as a Hindi teacher in a government school even when poverty was staring hard at him. Reason? His entrepreneurial zeal!
It was the ardour for setting up his own venture that prompted Jaiswal to set up a small electronic goods business with his partner. After a sour experience he moved out of the partnership and started his joint venture in building homes along with the owner of a disputed land in north Kolkata. This partnership worked for Jaiswal and from then on his enterprise Ascon Infrastructure (India) Limited has scaled new heights in the affordable housing sector.
In an exclusive interview with Entrepreneur India, Jaiswal elaborates on his journey which is fraught with challenges.
A Focussed Intent
Belonging to a middle class family, Jaiswal always felt that the biggest problem of the society was accommodation of the lower income group and a section of the middle income group. It egged him on to do something for them.
"I had no proper infrastructure, resources and finance to start developing houses for needy people but I did not lose my patience and started the business with whatever I had. My journey of struggle began two decades ago in the highly competitive real estate business and my strengths were absolute honesty and ability to put in hours of hard work, remain focused and steady determination. From a humble beginning where I had to literally struggle for two square meals a day, my passion and dedication has turned my venture into a 100% complaint free company," he shared.
Affordable Housing Project Future of Indian Realty Sector
According to estimates, around 600 million people are expected to make urban India their home by 2031 marking a whopping 59% growth from 2011. The current housing deficit in India stands at 19 million units, which in the absence of any meaningful intervention, is slated to double to 38 million units by 2030. Over 95% of this deficit is around the EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) and LIG (Low Income Group) segments, which technically puts the figure at a staggering 18 million units in this category (approximately).
According to Jaiswal while this number is huge, there is also a substantial chunk of upper end of LIG band and lower to middle end of MIG band, which comprises 'the emerging middle class', who are also deprived of decent living conditions. "The deficit in this category is approximately 4 lakh units, which, if not addressed, would further aggravate the proliferation of unplanned and unsustainable urbanisation," he clarified.
"Statistics show that more than 80% of this category is staying in congested homes. Decent, affordable housing is fundamental to the well-being of these people and to the smooth functioning of economy. Against the backdrop of impending large scale urbanization in India over the next few decades, it is important to identify, evaluate the needs of, and address the challenges faced by the affordable housing customers," further revealed Jaiswal.
Affordable Housing to Make Footprints in Smaller Townships
"Presently affordable housing is mainly based in Tier I & Tier II cities. However, in the next five years this will spread to more small towns, where scope of income is developing. Affordable housing projects would become a necessity in industrial area where the number of weaker economical group is increasing," he pointed out.
Jaiswal further maintained that the recently announced Housing for All mission is a step in the right direction to transform the affordable housing paradigm in India. "Initiatives like the redefining of EWS/LIG categories, interest subvention schemes and incentives to private players are definitely great first steps taken in addressing the housing deficit challenge facing the nation today," he asserted.
The Straight Talk
Jaiswal considers the feeling of immense happiness and satisfaction in being able to provide shelter for the weaker sections of the society, his biggest reward. "Our country really needs these initiatives. Remaining focussed, never losing patience and years and hours of determination, labour and grit has no substitute in any entrepreneurial journey and so has been my case too," straight talked the accomplished business head.In the coming years Jaiswal plans to diversify into media, entertainment, education and medical services, keeping in mind the need of the society as well as the opportunities in the segments.