Dallas CEO Urges Help for India

Arun Agarwal’s Preston Hollow neighbors donate for Jaipur

The CEO of Dallas-based multimillion-dollar textile business Nextt still has family and friends in Jaipur, India, a 3.1 million-resident city recently devastated by the pandemic.

“Every morning, I would be scared to look at my phone, not knowing what bad news I might be getting,” Preston Hollow resident Arun Agarwal said, thinking back to when COVID-19 first hit his hometown full-force.

A noted philanthropist and supporter of many nonprofits — 2016 winner of the Bert Tonkin Gift of Giving Award — as well as a leading businessman, Agarwal altered his business to supply growing COVID-19 emergency needs.

“We realized 90% of the PPE is fabric-based,” Agarwal noted, “so why can’t we just pivot and change our manufacturing from making sheets to PPE?”

Every morning, I would be scared to look at my phone, not knowing what bad news I might be getting.

Arun Agarwal

Mayor Eric Johnson invited Agarwal to help with the city of Dallas’ Jaipur Initiative relief effort. The partnership to assist Jaipur during a surge of COVID-19 cases includes the Dallas Foundation and the Indian American CEO Council, co-founded and chaired by Agarwal.

“Many of the initial major contributors to the initiative were neighbors and friends from Preston Hollow,” Agarwal said.

The Jaipur Initiative has already raised over $1 million, with Agarwal’s PPE company Nextt Shield donating $500,000 worth of PPE to Jaipur as part of the effort.

“We were very successful in making the quick change, servicing over 100 million units of PPE right from the state of Texas,” Agarwal said. Nextt Shield clients include organizations, hospitals, school districts, and universities across the United States.

He also is using his network to secure more donations for other organizations to provide additional funds to India outside the recently announced relief effort.

“With the mayor’s initiative, not a single dime is being spent from a city budget; it’s all private contributions,” Agarwal said. “The Dallas Foundation partnering became really key in helping us get help from mainstream Dallasites. Small individual contributions really show that the initiative city leaders take can really help. They are really philanthropic.”

Agarwal sees himself as fortunate to have a business that can help.

“It gravitates you more and more to give back and ask, ‘What more we can do with what is happening in the world?’ Today we are helping India, but hopefully, that helps us too by that variant not coming here,” he said. “If that would have happened initially in some of the countries where it was, it would not have become a global pandemic. It’s like the Indian belief of karma — I don’t know if I am paying forward or repaying for something good done to me. Though it’s very personal to me, it’s very fulfilling and gratifying to impart the lessons of a global citizen, for we are all global citizens.”

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