Pakistani businessmen should act as ambassadors for positive image of Pakistan (interview by Hamid waleed)

Says nominated Regional Council Chairman Entrepreneur Organisation (EO) S M Imran

S M Imran is a talented Pakistani entrepreneur, who entered his family business in 2005. A bachelor in Finance, he completed his early schooling in Karachi and went to Canada and UAE for higher studies.

He is a son of Mr S M Munir, a renowned business leader in Pakistan. His family is in the business of textile, leather, poultry and many other sectors since decades.

He started off in the family business with textile spinning mill and was in charge of the textile segments including production, sales, marketing and administration. Later, due to consistent and efficient market efforts, he was able 

to add two more units of spinning mills to cater to the rising demand of customers around the globe. Then, he also spearheaded poultry layer farm project in the Group with a capacity of 300,000 birds and launched a brand for the consumers with the brand name of “HEGGS” with focus on healthy eggs.

Q:        You have recently launched two brands of women wear. How did this idea come to your mind?

 

A:        When my nephew S M Nabeel joined family business, the family wanted me to create a new company Din Industries Limited from scratch to assist and launch of a retail brand. We have worked very hard along his side in establishing a strong customer focused retail apparel brand By The Way (BTW) for Pakistani youth. 

After two years of hard struggle, the brand has established itself amongst the leading fashion brands of Pakistan and the Group has also launched another brand focusing the middle-age women with the name of Din Life Style (DLS). In addition to BTW and DLS, the Din Industries Limited is now working on establishing world class family entertainment facilities in Pakistan with a brand name of “WePlay”. The first outlet is set to be opened in Multan, Islamabad and Lahore. Since the reigns of the retail business is under able control of S M Nabeel, I am now focusing on a bigger horizon of real estate development industry with the first project starting in Chiniot. 

Q:        Apart from many other laurels at different forums and institutions, you are an active member of the biggest global entrepreneurial organisation called ‘Entrepreneur Organisation’ (EO) and ready to embark on a new journey as Chairman of the Regional Board EO from July 2017. Tell us something about the EO?

A:        The EO operates in 52 countries with a total membership of 12000+ members. The annual turnover of EO member companies is approximately $565 billion with an employees’ strength crossing over 2.2 million. The EO head quarter is based in Washington’s Columbia district and it operates through 163 Chapters located in different countries. These Chapters function in accordance with the defined SOPs. The Regional Boards have a strong liaison with these Chapters in order to guide them with best practices on how to function effectively and efficiently.

The EO membership is headed by the Chairmen at the global and regional levels and Presidents at the Chapters’ level. Any businessman can be a member of EO at the level of any Chapter subject to qualify the membership conditions. The prequalification conditions for any member include annual revenue of US $1 million and the founder, co-founder or controlling shareholder of his company.

Q:        What qualities one should possess to become EO member?

A:        One should possess five qualities in order to become EO member, which are as follows: thirst for learning, trust and respect, boldly go, make a mark and be cool. These qualities are maintained in true letter and spirit on the EO platform and hence a very few qualify as EO member based on the above-mentioned five qualities.

Q:        What option is available to one who does not qualify a million dollar mark?

A:        A member not qualifying a million dollar mark can join in the EO Accelerated Programme which gets him access to certified trainers and speakers who guide them on how to increase their revenue and achieve the target. Statistically, 50 percent of the participants of this Programme increase their business revenue above the $1 million mark and become member of the EO.

Q:        How the EO members interact with each other?

 

A:        The EO holds its global leadership conference once a year, which is attended by 1200 members worldwide. Last year, this conference held in Bangkok and the next one will be in Frankfurt this year.

The board members, including the presidents, of participating Chapters go through three-day training. They are trained to know their responsibilities and how to perform them effectively. This format enables the EO members to develop international networking. Head of Region holds online conference with the heads of every section once a month. There is also a peculiar mechanism to contact 12000 members worldwide on the EO platform in order to learn from each other on any business issue. In other words, every member is ready to help others under a defined internal mechanism.

The EO provides a network for business development of its members. An entrepreneur cannot learn business strategies from a common man. This is a point where the role of EO starts, which provides a mechanism leading to constitution of a group of seven to eight members where no member can be a direct relation or a competitor of any other member of the group. This group meets once a month and no one is allowed to share discussion outside the group members. This principle of secrecy lets everybody speak freely and share his problems and experiences with members of the group. No one is allowed to lend advice to any member in a group in addition to it. Everyone is trained to simply share his experience with his fellow members on a particular business preposition being faced by a particular member in group discussion. He can point out what he did in a situation similar what is under discussion in the group. He cannot impose his opinion on others or force them to follow his path to deal with a certain business preposition. EO’s internal surveys have revealed that the group members get 70 percent value from group discussions.

Q:        What are prime pillars of EO?

A:        Every Forum of EO is based upon three pillars, which includes confidentially, gestalt language protocol (i.e. only experience sharing) and personal responsibility.

Q:        What is number of EO members in Pakistan?

A:        The number of EO members in Pakistan is 150 in total. Half of them are from Karachi and rest of the half from Lahore. We have a plan to set up Chapters in other cities as well subject to the availability of passionate entrepreneurs as members.

Q:        What is Global Student Entrepreneurship Award (GSEA) programme?

A:        The EO is running a Global Student Entrepreneurship Award (GSEA) programme. Under this programme, we recognize business models of the undergraduate students. The EO conducts an international competition every year. We have launched this programme in Pakistan as well and got an opportunity to meet the innovative talent in the country. We found huge potential to grow in their business models and are of a concerted opinion that they can beat us easily once they are in business. The winner of last year came up with software relating to correction of bowling action in cricket. There are only two to three companies world over providing this type of facility but he has developed an app much cheaper to what international firms are charging for. The winner this year has developed a Parkinson detector at a very early stage. This is the first one device of its nature in the world.

Q:        How do you dig out young entrepreneurial talent?

A:        The EO approaches to universities and invite talent to compete annually. We faced problem when started contacting people but it has become an easy job now. The Punjab Information Technology Board has initiated a similar programme under the title of Plan9. We have signed MoU with them to promote Pakistani talent. We also invite international trainers of EO and let local talent interact with them. These trainers apprise the students of innovations taking place internationally. He said every under graduate student is eligible to participate in the GSEA competition. He said the EO Pakistan is working for promotion of education and bring forward Pakistani talent internationally.

Q:        You have recently attended a GSEA competition in Germany and joined the judges to select the best business idea. What are details of this event?

A:        A Pakistani student entrepreneur has secured third position in a global business idea competition that was organised by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) in Frankfurt, Germany where I was among the judges for competition. A National University of Science & Technology (NUST) student Muhammad Asad Raza has got the distinction in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) against his business idea of developing cost effective prosthetics to bring it within the reach of a common man. It is for the second time that a young talented entrepreneur from Pakistan has attended the EO’s GSEA. As many as 56 students from more than 56 countries appeared in the competition. It was an amazing global competition that brought together the world’s brightest and best entrepreneurs, who were also all balancing the demands of their University studies.

Q:        You have organised an international conference of EO in Pakistan. What was your approach behind this activity?

A:        S M Imran had also organised an international conference of EO with the name of MAJLIS some two years back. He was President of Lahore Chapter at that time. He recalled that attack on the Army Public School students was yet a fresh incident when he decided to hold MAJLIS in Lahore. It was not an easy task to pursue our international members to visit Lahore, he said. As many as 60 members from more than 16 different countries landed in Pakistan to attend and every participant was vying for another visit once he travelled back to his country. Every Pakistani had extended utmost respect to them during their stay in Pakistan.

The international media has projected a negative picture of Pakistan and the Pakistani businessmen should act as the ambassadors to rebuild a positive image of Pakistan. With EO, the Pakistani entrepreneurs get a global opportunity to project Pakistan world over as a positive destination.

Q:        What are your plans after taking charge as Regional Chairman EO?

A:        I would take charge of his office as Regional Chairman EO from July this year. This region consists of 18 countries, including UAE, Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, in the Middle East and Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa in Africa are part of it.

I have named my theme “Building Bridges” after assuming my office that would bring Pakistan to other countries in the region. Being the Regional Chair of the EO, I would make sure that our business leaders from all countries build stronger network amongst each other for strengthening their personal, business and community bonds.

The EO community of MEPA region is an effective component of society that can bring people from diversified cultures closer to learn from each other and grow themselves collectively and individually.

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