A bright future awaits Pakistan as an SME, with exports growing rapidly

LAHORE: The government has taken several measures that have helped Pakistan in improving its ranking in Ease of Doing Business. Large-scale manufacturing has improved as exports have surged, but nothing has been done for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and cottage industries, said Nasir Hameed Khan, chief executive officer of the Dawn Group of Companies.

He added that practical measures needed to be taken to boost SMEs and cottage industries.

The government should ensure minimal bureaucratic hurdles and one-window facilities for the new entrants who have to rush from pillar to pillar to get the green light to start their business. For existing players, it should instruct departments to engage minimally and take measures to minimize double taxation, he added.

Also a former Vice President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Khan is a successful entrepreneur who has taken family businesses to new heights in just 27 years. The family inherited Dawn Motors, which is now one of seven companies operating under the Dawn Group of Companies banner.

He is involved in a variety of businesses including importing vehicles and auto parts, real estate, manufacturing and trading in pharmaceuticals and lubricants.

Keenly interested in trade policy, he has served as Chairman of the Association of Pakistan Automobile Spare Parts Importers and Dealers and Vice President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He currently holds the senior vice president portfolio of LCCI.

The following are excerpts from a brief conversation with him.

What was your first business venture?

Me and my siblings inherited Dawn Motors which was founded in 1978 by my late father. As the youngest, I joined the family business after completing my training in 1994. I focused on growing my family business. Now we run the business of seven companies.

What is your greatest achievement?

I started new ventures and gradually expanded my family business. Although I was the youngest among the siblings, I took initiatives and now the Dawn Group of Companies is a large business empire worth around Rs 1 billion. We export rubber parts to Sri Lanka, Middle East and Afghanistan.

What’s your biggest fear in life?

It is my wish that this legacy and this good name continue. I want my children to stay in Pakistan and take care of my business. I had the opportunity to settle in Canada but preferred to stay in Pakistan. I want my children to do the same and earn a living in my beloved homeland.

What is your favorite sport? Were you a player/athlete yourself?

Cricket. Like most people of my generation, I played cricket on the street and on the school/college field.

your favorite athlete?

Jehangir Khan due to his resilience and fitness that allowed him to stay at the top for so many years. The great Muhammad Ali is also my favorite. When he visited Pakistan I was a child. I had the honor of giving him a bouquet of flowers at the founding ceremony of a housing association.

Anything to do with music?

Before I got into the business, I listened to music for hours. Now I only listen to music when I travel. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Pathaney Khan are my favorites.

How many hours do you work in a day?

I typically spend six hours at my desk and in the field. I spend two to three hours at LCCI meeting friends and colleagues and the rest of the time is with family.

What is your favorite holiday destination and why?

I have traveled a lot in the past, visited almost every country in Europe and America. Due to my love for the Holy Prophet (PBUH), Madina is my favorite destination. I love to visit Saudi Arabia again and again to perform Umrah.

Iphone or Android phones?

Iphone, for me it is easy to use. But I only switch phones when the existing one starts to cause problems.

What clothing brands do you wear often?

I am not brand aware. As I am quality conscious, I can wear any brand and even have clothes sewn by tailors.

What made you decide to get into economic policy?

I wanted to make my experience and expertise productive for my community. Making policy aims to play the role of a bridge between policy makers/executors and the business world.

What are the future prospects of the overall business environment in Pakistan?

I am optimistic about the future of the business environment. The industry is growing with gradually increasing exports. Hopefully the trend will continue in the coming days. We need to focus on SMEs and home businesses. Our 60 percent of the population are talented youth who just need proper guidance.

Who is your role model?

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is my inspirational role model. He (PBUH) taught how to do business.

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