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How This Poor Immigrant Became a Billionaire

Who wants to be a billionaire? Apparently, Horst Paulmann did – and according to Forbes, with a net worth of over $5 billion – his fortune growing continuously – he is one of the richest men in the world. He is also Chile’s second-richest person. Building his empire was not easy and becoming the CEO […]

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Who wants to be a billionaire? Apparently, Horst Paulmann did – and according to Forbes, with a net worth of over $5 billion – his fortune growing continuously – he is one of the richest men in the world. He is also Chile’s second-richest person. Building his empire was not easy and becoming the CEO and chairman of Cencosud had its ups and downs. However, at age 85, he no longer has any financial struggles.

Paulmann’s Early Start

Horst Paulmann was born in Germany in 1935 – but as a result of the Second World War (namely, the struggles that occurred after it ended), he and his family were forced to emigrate from their home country to Chile. They began the journey in 1946, and in 1950, they finally managed to set roots in Osorno, Chile.

Horst dropped out of his secondary education because they were too poor to afford it, and in 1952, they set the foundation for Temuco. Through Temuco, they purchased the Vila of Recreation the Breezes – which, after his father’s death, he decided to turn into a supermarket. At that time, he was helped by one of his seven brothers, Jurgen – and gradually, they managed to expand.

The Industrialization

After getting an idea of how supermarkets work, in 1976 he decided to introduce the concept of big-sized supermarkets. This is precisely how the first Jumbo Supermarket was born. At first, Paulmann was prepared for failure, as this was a new concept; he did not think the people would accept his idea.

However, the idea was a great hit, and soon enough, Paulmann became a big name in Chile’s retail industry. Plus, since he had a high degree of acceptability from the masses, he decided to export. A new Jumbo was created in Argentina – the first shopping center of that kind there.

The Success in Supermarkets

With the industrialization, Jumbo became a big success – and with that, Horst also began to buy smaller supermarket chains in Argentina (e.g. Brisas and Santa Isabel), but he also created new shopping places (The Meadow).

He used Cencosud to operate a chain of supermarkets, malls, entertainment centers, banks, as well as a travel agency. Currently, Cencosud has about 1,000 shopping centers and malls all over the world, increasing Paumann’s fortune every year. Since 2017, his fortune grew by two billion dollars – and all it took was making the right purchases at the right time. It is no wonder that he was given the award in 2005 for being the businessman of the year by ICARE.

At this point, Paulmann and his family are still working on setting up the Costanera Center – a building that is expected to be Santiago’s tallest building.

Final Thoughts

Paulmann was not born rich – but he sure managed to become that way. Throughout his life, he built an entire chain of supermarkets – and all it took was making the right investments at the right time. To this day, he owns nearly a thousand stores and markets – and he has no intention of stopping here.

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