Westcombe’s founder and chair shares his experience of five decades in business and philanthropy
Every year, the Asian Business Awards offers the opportunity for members of the UK’s Asian business community to come together and celebrate our successes over the last 12 months, honouring a number of standout entrepreneurs and community leaders.
This year’s event was particularly special for the Westcombe Group, as we were honoured with the Family Business of the Year award. Recognition was given to the Group’s commitment to revitalise local communities across the UK by developing listed buildings into modern, affordable homes.
We were also lucky enough to take part in a panel event on how the Westcombe Group was established and how it has grown over the last five decades. We took the opportunity to reflect on our family’s journey to the UK in 1968, when I started buying and selling cars in order to save for our first property in Westcombe Hill.
I discussed the significance of humility, resilience and determination in the foundations of the Westcombe Group, and how these core principles are still guiding tenets for the company today, acting as our moral compass.
I described how our desire to give back to those who are most in need was a driving motivation for me in the early years of the Group. In what was a deeply personal moment for me, I reflected on my formative experience of poverty, remembering my father still giving back to society despite not having much for himself. These memories have stuck with me throughout my career, and I have always made a conscious effort to pass down that same burning desire to create positive change to my sons, Kamal and Sunil.
This deep desire to give back led me to create the Westcombe Foundation in 2008. Since then, the Pankhanias have invested into educational, healthcare, religious and charitable endeavours across the UK, Kenya, India, and Nepal.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, we felt a responsibility to play our part in the national effort to protect the most vulnerable and those who care for them. As such, we opened up our properties across London and housed a number of NHS staff and other key workers.
In recent months, the cost-of-living crisis has become a concern for millions of people across the country. We understand that not all people live in a place they can call home and we believe that all people experiencing homelessness should be entitled to support and assistance. That’s why, in 2023, we are doubling down our efforts to help people off the streets and into their own homes as quickly as possible. We look forward to updating you all on our plans in the new year.
The Westcombe Group is immensely proud to have played a part in this year’s Asian Business Awards. We are looking forward celebrating the contribution of the Asian business community again next year, at the 25th anniversary of the awards.