Rizwan Sajan: An Inspiring Leader Creating a Wave of Change

Rizwan Sajan

Thousands of miles, uncountable hours and infinite determination. These three elements punctuated a young man’s journey from Mumbai in India to the glitz – and the risks – of the Middle East in the 1990s. There was hardship along the way, losses both personal and financial, and even the shadow of war. Passion and grit overcame them all.
The region was booming, with the UAE and Dubai beginning to emerge as the epicenter of a tidal wave of development. Today, the foundation laid by visionary leaders has transformed the region into one of the most prestigious investment destinations anywhere. Zealous entrepreneurs with ideas that will change the world are drawn here by its incredible opportunities and conducive business ecosphere.
This young man from Mumbai now heads a global empire and has played a significant role in creating this world of possibilities. His name is Rizwan Sajan, and he is the Founder and Chairman of Danube Group.
Rizwan heads what is one of the largest building materials companies in the region. His team of over 3,300 people works at branches in the U.A.E., Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and India, in addition to procurement offices in China.
Danube Group started off as a small trading firm and today supplies over 25,000 quality products to its customers. The company takes pride not just in designing and building infrastructure, but also in nurturing long-lasting relationships with its clients.
Rizwan has worked incredibly hard to establish Danube as one of the most prestigious brands in the U.A.E. Abiding by his mantra of dedication and determination; he has always believed that there are no shortcuts to success.
Hard work is the key to success,” he says, ever true to his reputation for being a workaholic, “You did not come this far to only come this far. Keep going!
Danube’s establishment coincided with Dubai’s construction boom. Rizwan gradually built his company into the undisputed market leader for building materials in the Emirates. Never one to be complacent, he is now expanding the company’s footprint to include real estate and home improvement.
He believes that a true leader doesn’t produce followers; a true leader creates more leaders. To achieve this, his strategy is to find the right people to trust, and then empower them to run particular aspects of his business.
It is my people who are my strength and the reason for our roaring success,” he acknowledges.
 An Entrepreneur to the Core
Rizwan is a people’s person who makes quick, informed decisions. He is relentless when it comes to completing projects and following through on the work required to turn an idea into a sellable product.
Without customers, you have no business. At Danube, we make sure all of our pitches, products, and services are focused on actual customer needs. Customer satisfaction is at the center of everything we do,” says Rizwan.
His favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is the opportunity to constantly rediscover him and evolve with every passing day. He feels a great sense of gratitude seeing Danube grow and consequently provide job opportunities to thousands of people.
Rizwan believes that creativity increases curiosity that drives the desire to learn; it opens up the mind to unexplored paths. He encourages creativity by supporting open-mindedness, fostering an inspirational environment, and offering the right rewards to his employees.
He attributes the mindset that has contributed to so much of his success to the generational privilege of coming from a middle-class family where resources were limited – it helped him understand the value of money and hard work.
A positive state of mind is what motivates me in difficult times,” adds Rizwan.
An Inspiring Journey
Rizwan’s life has been one of risks and results. His journey as an entrepreneur started at the young age of 13, when he began selling books and firecrackers in India. This experience gave him the chance to witness first-hand what people in the market desire.
Rizwan learnt business etiquette from his uncle in Kuwait. With the older man’s help and guidance, Rizwan progressed from being a salesman in his mentor’s company to being his right hand man and finally to fully managing all aspects of the business.
Everything came to sudden halt in 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Rizwan returned to India for a few months, then subsequently moved to Dubai and began trading in building materials on a small scale.
It was only after great hardship that he was able to establish Danube Group. The year was 1993; he had very little money and a single employee, his wife.
The journey has definitely been a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs, but we all know success is never achieved by shortcuts; it’s the result of consistent hard work and a dogged determination to succeed,” asserts Rizwan.
When he is asked who influenced him most on his entrepreneurial journey, Rizwan immediately speaks of his late father and his uncle. “My uncle used to say, “A lot of people live rich but very few die rich.” My take from his words was that you need to be careful in any business and realize that if you take one wrong step, you could lose it all,” recalls Rizwan.
With that in mind, Rizwan says, “I think calculated risk-taking is almost synonymous with entrepreneurship.”
The Uniqueness of Danube Group
The Danube Group has always set itself apart by dealing exclusively in quality products but at a competitive price.
For instance, it is the first company in the U.A.E. to launch affordable properties – prices start at just AED 450,000 for a studio apartment entirely fitted with world-class amenities. The associated payment plan allows buyers to deposit a 25 percent down payment and then pay off the remainder at only 1 percent per month, even after handover.
The company operates as three divisions:

  • Danube Building Material – Our advantage is large warehousing capacity. Hence, across segment we give complete solutions under one roof.
  • Danube Properties is a leading property developer in the UAE, which was launched in 2014. Being Rizwan Sajan’s brainchild, Danube Properties came into existence with the launch of affordable housing in Dubai; after extensive research, careful planning with his team, combined with his own entrepreneurial acumen. Danube Properties projects exhibit supreme quality of construction material, equipment, and home interior supplies. Aimed at offering luxury at affordable prices, the firm has particularly garnered interest from mid-income sections, resulting in the most project being ‘Sold-out’.
  • Danube Home, a one- stop retail destination for complete home solution with over 50,000 individual products we created a benchmark by providing complete home improvements products under one roof.
  • Living: Sofas, bedrooms, chandeliers, home decorations, dinner ware, glassware, bedding, fragrances
  • Kitchen: Customized kitchens, electrical and hardware products
  • Sanitary: Mixers, bathroom accessories, massage bathtubs, saunas
  • Tiles: Outdoor tiles, indoor tiles, bathroom tiles, and specialized wall tiles in marble, granite and other materials
  • Garden & Outdoor: Balcony sets, rattan furniture, gazebos, swings, kids’ play range

Advice for the Budding Entrepreneurs
Rizwan is highly inspired by the movie, Manjhi. Directed by Ketan Mehta, the film tells the tale of a man who single-handedly carved a road through a treacherous mountain over 15 years using just a hammer and chisel.
He had to overcome many hurdles as he worked alone on the mammoth project, but his determination and undying spirit helped him to achieve his goal. The movie is based on a true story and serves as the ideal inspiration for entrepreneurs who may be tempted to capitulate in face of adversity.
I am sure that this movie will give entrepreneurs the boost in self-confidence they sometimes need,” says Rizwan.
Future Roadmap
Rizwan focuses on identifying new business to grow and develop as an entrepreneur every day. Danube Group’s future growth plans have been drafted keeping in mind the overall plans of the nation where it is based. They are geared to meet the challenges ahead, keeping the Expo 2020 vision in mind.
The Group aims to achieve 15 to 20% year-on-year growth till 2020.
Rizwan hopes that Danube Home will grow to become one of the top three home improvement retailers, while Danube Properties maintains its pole position in the affordable housing sector market. Milano will grow both vertically and horizontally by adding more product lines and creating more business opportunities.

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