Rita Sharma set up travel agency Worldwide Journeys in 1986 selling transatlantic business flights from a windowless London office “the size of a broom cupboard”, which merely consisted of “two desks and some phones”. In addition to its humble beginnings, the business did not necessarily have an easy journey to success, either [excuse the pun!] When the stock market crashed in the late 1980s, “people were no longer spending ridiculous amounts of money travelling First or Club class”. Clearly a natural entrepreneur, however Ms Sharma responded to the situation by adapting her business to one that sold bespoke holiday packages instead. In 1992 her husband Rahul abandoned his accountancy career in order to take charge of the finances of Worldwide Journeys.
British “by definition” but “Asian too, by DNA”, Ms Sharma partly attributes her tenacity and ultimate success to her principled upbringing: “a very strong foundation of right and wrong and a real sense of personal responsibility”.
Today the business is worth an estimated £44m, and Rita Sharma is known as the UK’s richest Asian female entrepreneur. She proudly states, “We are not in the business of selling a bit of this, a bit of that, flights and hotels. We sell the entire dream, a bespoke tailor-made holiday, from the flights to the hotel to the transfers and the tour – the whole thing. And we sell very high-end, luxury travel.”