The Roy family has its roots in Araria, Bihar, but was settled in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. Subrata Roy, who was the eldest son, stayed in a rented accommodation in Gorakhpur’s Turkmanpur area, along with his parents and siblings. Roy obtained a diploma in Mechanical Engineering from the Government Technical Institute, Gorakhpur, but before he could take up a job, his father Sudhir Chandra passed away. That put immense pressure on the family’s eldest son to take up odd jobs. Roy sold salted snacks on a Lambretta scooter, and called his venture ‘Jaya Products’.
Subrata Roy set up Sahara in 1978. His para-banking venture in Gorakhpur worked on grassroots level, inviting small investors, such as tea-stall owners and rickshaw-pullers, to invest just Re 1 a day in Sahara India Financial, the group’s flagship firm. And the idea clicked so well with the masses that in 30 years, it grew into India’s largest residuary non-banking company.
A business that started by serving the lower economic strata of the society, grew into an enormous business empire with extensive media network, a commercial airline called Air Sahara, and properties in the global premium hospitality segment (New York’s landmark Plaza Hotel and London’s Grosvenor House Hotel). Roy sold Air Sahara to Jet Airways in 2006 for over $500 million. Sahara also owned an IPL cricket team, Pune Warriors. Lead sponsorship of the Indian cricket team ended in December 2013. Sahara still continues to sponsors the Indian hockey team.