KALPOINT.COM (KPDC): Please
tell us briefly about yourself, your education and brought up?
EBRAHIM QASIM (EQ): It
goes without saying that I belong to Memon Family and was born in
Kathiawar. When I was 3 years old, Pakistan came into being and I
migrated with my parents. We were into business before partition but on
account of migration we had to start from a scratch in Pakistan.
Fortunately, I got into the company of very noble people. My peers were
4 or 5 years older than me and I got useful guidance from them. When I
was 8 years old, my father died. My elder brother was 18 years old so
all responsibilities were on his shoulders. In the beginning, I had
aimed to go for medical education when I was in school but later it
changed due to different circumstances and I opted for commerce.
Alhamdulillah I pursued Chartered Accountancy single-mindedly. My
brother had started a small business of clothes with a very little
amount by then on the suggestion of a very kind person. As soon as I
completed my CA, my brother kept on insisting to join the business. I
consulted to a very respected person and he suggested me, "If you
join your family business your education will have no use so exploit
your education while working in different enterprises". After 4
years when I had the opportunity to start a business; I started
distribution business and that advice proved to be very useful for me.
My family experienced two kinds of businesses and it gave me a sense of
great satisfaction. After that there was no looking back and
Alhamdulillah Allah has blessed me a lot.
tell us about the working of Premier Group?
EQ: The parent
company is Premier Distributors, which we started in 1971. The first job
we started was with Peak Freans Biscuits. We started this business in a
different way. Earlier distribution business was considered as the
agency. We took it differently by taking it as responsibility not the
privilege. We wanted to set the trend. Our first objective was, "it
is the right of every retail & wholesale outlet that we reach to
them in the manner, which is suitable to them".
After 20 years of focusing solely on this business,
we went into marketing, the marketing of products on our own. The first
product we marketed was the imported disposable syringes.
Before that glass syringes were used but after the
advent of HIV these glass syringes were abandoned. The syringes were not
considered as brand but as a commodity. We set our target that we would
franchise this product and would sell out these syringes with brand
name. We went to different hospitals and informed the nurses and
paramedics that our syringes were better than the others. They didn't
know that there could be a difference.
There were different impediments in distribution
business and we planned to branch out in to some other businesses as
well. So the first branching out we did, was, in textile. Very recently
we have bought Zaman Textile Mills. In 1998 we setup a pharmaceutical
manufacturing company, Pharmivo of which we did corporate profiling.
Then we bought another company 'Shield' from Daud Group. This company
was comparatively small by its size and now we are developing it.
So right now we have a FMCG on a smaller scale, which
is called Shield Corporation Ltd. where we manufacture personal hygiene
products, a pharmaceutical company Pharmivo, a textile-spinning mill and
the premier distributors is the mother company.
KPDC: If we
compare the chemical products of Pakistan with the products of our
neighboring countries especially India, where will we find ourselves
EQ: We stand
nowhere. I don't think we have got any mentionable chemical industry
except Sitara Chemicals and ICI. India, for its first 2 decades, shut
its doors and developed from within. India is the leading pharmaceutical
raw material manufacturer and they export to Europe and USA. Some of
their companies are also listed in New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
There's a company in South India named Dr. Redi who sold research
patterns to Europe and USA. CIPLA is the No. 1 pharmaceutical company in
India, which is selling more than Glaxo, a Muslim of Aligarh or
Hyderabad owns this company. Another largest exporting pharmaceutical
company of India is called Renbexy owned by Sardarji family. Their total
business is more than 1 billion dollar. In Software and IT business Mr.
Azeem Premji is the 2nd richest person of India.
KPDC: How do
you differentiate between the situation of business in previous years
and in the present era?
EQ: If you
compare the current circumstances with what used to be in early 50's
then the situation is much better. I remember when LC was to open it
took so many days. There were plenty of exchange restrictions. I must
give credit to Mr. Nawaz Sharif's government when many exchange
restrictions were removed. There were telephone line and communication
problems but now there's fiber optics and satellite facility of
communication. In terms of facilities and parameters starting of
business is so much easy but in terms of competition the situation is
different. There are more people now so the competition is very tough.
shed some light on the health situation in Pakistan. Are private
hospitals and companies providing sufficient services and medication to
effective manpower in Pakistan is a blessing of Allah. If intentions of
our people are clean then the sky is the limit of our abilities. The
health system of UK is dependent on Indian and Pakistani doctors. In
Pakistan as far as technical doctors are concerned we have best doctors.
Latest medical gadgets and facilities are also available in different
private hospitals but in government hospitals the situation is very
gloomy. They don't have enough budget and almost 90% of their budget
goes in salaries of doctors and staff. The fact is that 50% of Karachi's
poor health care is done by welfare hospitals setup by Memons.
Our friend Mr. Aijaz, is the Managing Trustee of
Memon Hospital Burns Road. Marvelous facilities are being provided there
for poor people. Government has to do something about health conditions
and especially about the government hospitals. The Memon community is
going to establish a Memon Medical institute with the huge amount of
1000 Millions rupees. The planning of this project is under way. This
Medical institute will have world-class facilities with latest medical
equipments. There are many world-class hospitals under Apolo Group in
India where lots of people from Pakistan also go and get cured in much
cheaper rates as compared to hospitals in Europe, UK or US.
I am very optimistic about the future of medical
facilities in Pakistan but how far is the future that we have to decide.
We must try to bring that future closer.
KPDC: How do
you see implementation of WTO in 2005?
EQ: This is
now a reality and we have to accept it. I must confess I don't have much
information about what WTO is but in principle it is going to liberalize
the trade internationally. The whole philosophy is that the world has
now reduced to a very small global satellite driven village. It will
have diverse effect on different industries in Pakistan. There will be
more competition and only those will survive who come up with best
services and products. So we have to be ready for that.
times it happens so that highly qualified professionals are unemployed
and less qualified people are on top positions and some times the
situation is opposite. How do you see such scenario in context to your
experience in business?
EQ: The degree
is only a certificate to enter. It certifies that this person has the
knowledge to apply for the certain position. It doesn't certify that he
can get the best. Allah has created humans with same body parts but by
attitude there's a huge difference. It is Allah's will whom to bless
with whatever He wants. It is also mentioned in Holy Quran "A
person won't be made accountable more than his capacity". So Allah
has blessed people with different qualities. If Allah hadn't bestowed
people with different qualities and capabilities, how would the system
of the world run?
Certainly some examples exist of the less educated
who ruled the world and the highly qualified people who are nowhere. But
what is required from Allah is to work hard and keep struggling for the
best. Try your best and leave the result on Allah; He will bless you
according to your potential.
If one thinks that after acquiring the degree he can
do anything then this is the biggest mistake. He has to struggle hard in
life as it is said "Realm of knowledge knows no bounds and you
should keep on learning from cradle to the grave".
KPDC: What are
the key factors to be successful in business? And what do you think is
more important to be a successful businessman, education or experience?
EQ: In the
last 20 years educated businessmen have done wonders but before that
people like Henry ford, Seth Ahmed Daud and such people were not highly
educated but in the manner they did business is very admirable. Also the
environment of doing business was different in that era. There was no
professionalism, media wasn't so developed and the means of
communication were meager. Lets take the example of Bill Gates who was
amongst the drop out students of the school but now he's the richest
The question is what is the criterion of being
successful, is it only earning money or becoming a good social human? I
think the successful businessman is the one who is a good human being
and who helps the needy wherever and whenever. When you grow in to
corporate situation you owe to the people who are working for you, you
owe to the shareholders if you are a corporate body and then you owe to
the society as such. It is not what I eat and enjoy physically, it is
actually what I achieve in terms of giving to the society and the
would you like to say about your visit to Kalia Group?
EQ: After my
first visit at the inauguration ceremony of KalSoft, this is my second
visit to this Software House. It has grown more rapidly than I could
have perceived. Great work and performance by young Khurram! May Allah
keep him always KHUSH U KHURRAM.
I had heard about KalPoint.com but it is so rightly
said, "Seeing is believing". I am more impressed to see the
portal and its offerings. Please keep up this great work. Aiming for
serving the country and society will automatically help you achieve your
business objectives also. May Allah bless you with great success!
message for the Youth of Pakistan.
EQ: Youth must
focus on the real objective of life. They have every right to get best
in life in terms of dresses, transport and living etc but I think that
should be the lower priority. The main objective should be giving to the
society and the country. As Iqbal says "Mohabbat mujhay un Jawanon
say hai Jo Sitaroon pay daltay hain kumand"
Q1: What is
the current economic situation of Business or industries in Pakistan? Is
it equal to India? Or are we very far away from India? (Mairaj Ul Huda
EQ: I recently
have had the opportunity to visit India. We must admit the fact that
India has progressed enormously and the primary reason of its growth is
their achievements in Information Technology. IT sector has provided
tremendous job opportunities as well as helped in improving their
exchange reserves. Their economic planning has been better in the sense
that since many decades it has been close to China's shut door policies.
That is as far as general economic condition of India is concerned but
if you look at the poverty level then probably it is worse than
Pakistan. The general prosperity of India that you feel is better than
Pakistan. Pakistan had different opportunity on account of 9/11 incident
when the capital started coming back to Pakistan. As far as the
Pakistan's economy is concerned we have the parameters and fundamentals
but in my views the real takeoff opportunity is still to come.
Q2: Could you
please inform us about the investment opportunities in Pakistan
particularly in Karachi? And what is the scope of FMCGs in Pakistan? (Sameul
EQ: All sort
of investments premises required for foreign investment are here now. As
far as theoretical prospects are concerned there are tremendous
opportunities. Karachi has very well set industrial areas like Port
Qasim Industrial area, SITE and Korangi. There's a very large industrial
zone at Port Qasim where new industries especially the ones that require
huge land space can set up their plants. FMCGs have always been
successful here in Pakistan because of the increasing upper middle &
middle class. Lots of international food franchises have been opened
here and are doing terrific business. These international franchises
have challenged Pakistani enterprises to come up with best products and
survive in the market offering international standard products. Brand
franchising is a very difficult task and it's a long process. If we look
at Pakistan there are many homegrown brands in food line especially. For
instance Tapal Tea is doing excellent business and is a tough challenge
to the giant Lipton. Habib Ghee and Hamdard products are also the
example of great runner. Peak Freans Biscuits is a small player
internationally but is a leading brand in Pakistan even against other
international brands like LU and Nabisco.
Pakistani entrepreneurs have now realized that the
quality and consistency is essential in order to survive in the market.
So the investment opportunities are various here in Pakistan equipped
with supportive environment and possibilities.
Q3: As a
president of Memon Professional Forum, What achievements are on your
credit? (Umair Baig — Hyderabad)
EQ: It is for
people and observers to evaluate. However, if I look back I do got some
satisfaction that professional culture was brought in all programmes
more particularly in CPE.
qualities should a person possess to be called leader? And can any
person be a leader or they are leaders by birth? (Shumaila — Quetta)
EQ: There are
some people born leaders whereas others can improve themselves to become
leaders in their fields. Indeed at this time, there are leadership
schools as well but it depends upon individual's own efforts and
Q5: How do you
envision Iqbal's poetry for the wakefulness of youth and especially in
the context of current circumstances? (Abdul Hadi — Islamabad)
Iqbal's work has inspiration not for youth but for all ages. However, as
youth possess physical energy more than others and also longer span of
life they can benefit the most. In fact, Allama Iqbal's work must be
sufficiently taught to boys and girls from primary level to build
foundation. In the present age, when generally Muslim Ummah is under
huge pressure, it is true that awakening is necessary and Iqbal who took
inspiration and lead from Al Quran and life of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),
a true leader of the mankind, his works will awaken the sleeping Ummah.
Q6: Are you
satisfied with performance of the WORLD MEMON ORGANIZATION (WMO), so
far? How much are you hopeful regarding its future? (Rehan — Karachi)
EQ: WMO is
doing great work in Pakistan; major focus at this time is rehabilitation
project for which target funding of more than Rs. 100 million is
pursued. Indeed more details can be obtained from WMO official in
Pakistan, Dubai and USA.
Q7: I want to
ask a question to Mr. Ebrahim Qasim that what views do you keep
regarding the uniform of President Pervez Musharraf.? Many people are
saying it is against the constitution and many are in favor. What's
right and what's wrong? What do you have so say sir? (Shayan —
business point of view, the businessman believes in continuity but
unfortunately in Pakistan the longest eras of continuity after
celebrating the decades of development and everything, it all crumbled
down like house of cards. I strongly believe that the democracy is the
key word and if you look at the developed countries of Europe and USA,
they keep the democracy value absolutely sure and on the top of the
priority list in their countries but when it comes to other countries
where they want to battle around, then their principles are not
different. Their principles are like what Churchill once said,
"we've got no permanent friends; we've got permanent
The secret of their development is democracy and it
is the hard way and trial in error process. Failure of pure
democratically elected government can't be construed to the failure of
democracy. The present Government must lay strong political foundation
for future political institutions.
you very much for sparing your time here and giving us this very
informative and interesting interview. C U On Net.
EQ: Thanks and
C U On Net 2.
Mr. Yasir Zaheer, Mrs. Fatima Ali, Mr. Shakeel Mansuri, Mr. Hassan Tahir,
Dr. Saira Bano, Mr. Hammad Karim, Ms. Uzma Aziz, Ms. Alifiah Mushtaq.