Lord Dolar Popat is a Conservative Peer and Party Whip and was appointed as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda in January 2016. He became a Member of the House of Lords back in July 2010 and is the first Gujarati to represent the Conservative Party in the House of Lords.
From January 2013 to March 2015 Lord Popat served as a Minister of the Crown with responsibilities for the Departments of Business, Innovation and Skills, and Transport, as well as a Lord-in-Waiting and a member of Her Majesty’s Household.
Lord Popat was born on 14 June 1953, in Busolwe and brought up in Tororo, Uganda. Lord Popat arrived in the UK in 1971 at the age of 17, a year before the expulsion of many Indians from Uganda, with only £10 in his pocket. Lord Popat sponsored himself through night school at Kilburn Polytechnic by taking jobs including working as a dishwasher, waiter, and grill chef at a Wimpey Bar on Kilburn High Street. He qualified as an Affiliate Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in 1977.
After completing his studies, Lord Popat held a number of positions, including trainee accountant at Rockware Glass, and UDT Finance (Barclays).
After practising as an accountant in the late 1970s, Lord Popat specialised in business and corporate finance. He remains an Affiliate Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
Lord Popat diversified into the healthcare sector in the late 1980s and the hospitality sector in the late 1990s, and secured a master franchise with the Intercontinental Hotels Group for Express by Holiday Inn in the UK.
Lord Popat is an advocate of community cohesion and the importance of reconciling and uniting different cultures under the UK’s central democratic process.
Lord Popat has been actively involved with the Conservative Party since 1980, serving former Conservative prime ministers – Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron. During that time he has acted as an advisor to help the party’s engagement with the British Indian community.
Lord Popat has advocated that the Conservative Party is a place where enterprise, hard work and social responsibility are respected and encouraged, and that these are values that the British Indian community naturally share. He has worked to bridge the gap between the Conservative Party and the British Indian community and believes that the party and the community will mutually benefit from a deeper and sustained engagement and understanding.
Lord Popat’s party appointments have included:
- Secretary to the Anglo Asian Conservative Association
- Chairman of the One Nation Forum, Barnet branch
- Vice Chairman – subsequently Chairman – of the Strangers Gallery (a Parliamentary Private Club for the business community in Harrow)
- Speaker on behalf of the Conservative Party on the “Next Step” Diversity and Leadership in Britain in the 21st Century
- Member of the Conservative Ethnic Diversity Council
- Chairman of the Stanmore Park Ward
- President of Harrow East Conservative Association
- Chairman of Conservative Friends of India
In 2009 Lord Popat was honoured with an award at the Asian Political and Public Life Awards at the House of Commons by the Conservative Party’s then Chairman, Eric Pickles MP, for promoting the Conservative Party in the community.
On 12 July 2010 Lord Popat was ennobled on the recommendation of the Prime Minister Rt Hon David Cameron MP, for his services to small and medium sized businesses and to the wider community. He took the title of Lord Popat of Harrow as it was there that his parents lived when they moved to Britain.
On 31 March 2011 he made his maiden speech in the Lords, during a debate on economic growth.
Lord Popat’s main interests in the House of Lords are the;
- Commonwealth, in particular Africa and India, and
- Small businesses which prompted Lord Popat to set up a House of Lords cross-party Select Committee on SME Exports to examine what the Government is doing to assist and promote SMEs to export more.
Lord Popat was appointed the Co-Chairman of Conservative Friends of India which was launched in April 2012 by the then Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP. The launch was attended by over 1200 people from the Indian diaspora. Lord Popat stood down as Co-Chairman for Conservative Friends of India in January 2013, after his appointment as a Government Whip.
In September 2012, Lord Popat was appointed to become a Party Whip in the House of Lords.
From January 2013 to May 2015 Lord Popat was a Minister of the Crown and Government Whip in the House of Lords. Lord Popat was also a Lord-in-Waiting receiving a number of Heads of States on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen. During this time, Lord Popat was the Government Spokesperson in the House of Lords for the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation and the Department for Transport.
In February 2013, Lord Popat accompanied the Prime Minister, David Cameron on the British trade delegation to India.
Lord Popat considers himself a “child of Africa” and in January 2016 he was appointed as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda – his home country. Among the fastest growing economies on the continent, they offer remarkable trade and investment opportunities for UK businesses. Lord Popat regularly meets with organisations and entrepreneurs to encourage bilateral trade between the UK and these countries. Emerging markets such as those within the Commonwealth offer great opportunities for the next generation of businesses in the UK.
As UK trade envoy, Lord Popat has led several British delegations to Rwanda and Uganda: one in Rwanda in March 2019 where he led a horticultural business delegation and another in Uganda in June 2019 with a delegation of agritech firms.
Lord Popat is a Hindu. Lord Popat is a devoted and loyal follower of Morari Bapu’s teachings; who he regards as his Guru and mentor in life.
Lord Popat has also been involved with a number of community organisations. He is a founding Director of St Luke’s Hospice, Harrow.
Lord Popat founded and funds a registered charity, the Lord Dolar Popat Foundation, which makes contributions to medical and educational institutions predominately based in the UK. Further information can be found in that section of the website.
Lord Popat married Lady Sandhya Popat on 19 July 1980. Lord and Lady Popat have three sons.
Lord Popat regularly visits India, the Middle-East and East Africa, and is well acquainted with community and business leaders in the US, Canada, South Africa and Europe.
He speaks four languages including Gujarati, Hindi, and Swahili.
Lord Popat is also a long suffering supporter of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.