In recognition of the achievements of Vijay Patel
Vijay Patel, a former student at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, is to receive an honorary degree in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the world of pharmacy.
Patel started life in poverty in the town of Eldoret, in the western highlands of Kenya, and is now one of the wealthiest men in Britain who dedicates time, and money, to expanding his Waymade pharmaceuticals business and also to helping some of the world’s poorest people.
Patel graduated from De Montfort’s School of Pharmacy in 1973 and received his honorary degree at a special ceremony in De Montfort Hall, Leicester, on Thursday 22 July.
Vijay Patel receives an honorary degree from De Montfort University in recognition of his services to pharmacy
‘I have been fortunate in my business career to have received a number of awards, but there is no greater honour than to be recognised by one’s Alma Mater,’ he said.
Patel opened his first pharmacy in Leigh-on-Sea, in 1975, at the age of 24. By the time he was 30 he owned six shops and sales had doubled. In 1982 his brother Bhikhu joined Patel and together they founded Waymade Healthcare.
In 2000 the brothers sold all but three of their pharmacies and turned their focus to the supply of high-quality, affordable medicines for those who need it most, particularly the elderly and the NHS.
A new division, Amdipharm, was formed to spearhead the international growth of the company. It develops and markets drugs that are too small to interest Big Pharma.
By 2009, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, Vijay and Bhiku Patel were worth £370m, with more than 1,000 licences for prescription medicines, selling to 110 countries. Patel is said to be the most financially successful pharmacy graduate from De Montfort.
Patel says his business model has been guided by two things: his mother, Shantaben, who instilled in him honesty, integrity, and, later in life, humility; and the boss of a clothing shop he worked in before moving to the UK.
His boss would tell him: ‘We are very fortunate that our customer has walked into this shop. There are 30 other businesses he could choose from.
‘We are lucky to have him.
‘Make sure his shop is a pleasurable experience and, if he wants an elephant, he shall have an elephant.
‘Then the next time he needs your services he will make a bee line for you.’
Good customer service is something Patel continues to instil in his organisation today.
He has also built a reputation as a philanthropist, dedicating hundreds of thousands of pounds to health and education.
In 1997 he and his brother paid for a new school in their Eldoret, just half a mile from where they were educated.
‘It is a debt we wanted to repay,’ Patel said. ‘If just one of the children makes it like me I will have succeeded.’
Each year the brothers also run a medical camp in India, offering surgery and setting up water wells.
‘When you tell a family an operation has been a complete success and you see the joy in their eyes – it is incredible. Making a serious difference to people’s lives – that is what I am most proud of,’ said Patel.