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Business Personality of the Year 2021 – Ashok Sewnarain

Ashok Sewnarain is the founder and chairman of International Bank Vaults (IBV), the first and most sophisticated, privately owned safe deposit vaults in South Africa.

Sewnarain was born in Mayville, Durban and his father ran a small, often struggling, estate agency. When Sewnarain took over the family business, he expanded into the hotel and hospitality sectors.

In May 2005, Sewnarain opened the first private vault in Umhlanga’s Gateway Mall. Since then, IBV has grown exponentially and operates branches globally in London, Switzerland, and Dubai.

The vaults are built to international standards and specifications, complete with steel-reinforced concrete and protected by a sophisticated, multitiered security system.

Sewnarain subscribes to the philosophy that says one should persevere and be determined to pursue one’s dreams in whatever business chosen. He says, “Business is full of risk and challenges that we must confront on a daily basis.” He added that over the years, he had experienced many failures in his business career, but all of these had made him more knowledgeable and humbler.

However, Sewnarain says, “You must be bold and have courage to launch business ventures with honesty and respect for staff, customers, suppliers and service providers. Life is about dreaming big. Dream to make a million dollars, rather than a million rand. The most successful people in the world dream big. It’s free. It has no boundaries and borders.”

Sewnarain strives to create a balance between good business and profit through providing community and social support. This balance is achieved by promoting a spirit of social entrepreneurship, which he believes is an important aspect that every business leader should adopt in their own enterprises. He concluded, “The more that you give the more that you get.”


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