Crafting own life
Amjad Ali Jawa, a highly qualified pharmacist and teacher, is a self-made man, starting the Wilshire Lab in the lower portion of his house with seed money of Rs2.5 million almost four decades ago. Now it is a multi-billion-rupee enterprise having reasonable local market share, besides exporting medicines to more than 20 countries in Asia and Africa. Having interest in trade politics, Jawa has served as the senior vice president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, provincial president of the Pakistan Pharmacist Association and chairman of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association.
He is satisfied with the career progressions of his four sons and a daughter. Prof Dr Ali Jawa is a known endocrinologist, while Ghazanfar Jawa is a pharmacist, Asad Jawa a chemical engineer, Mohsan Jawa an IT professional and Tasneem Ali is a nutritionist.
The following are the excerpts of a rendezvous with him.
What was your first business venture?
A: I started my career as a teacher at the Punjab University after completing masters in pharmacy with distinction. I went to the US where I served as a pharmacist at a hospital and set up a chemist store Wilshire. After spending around a decade in the United States, I returned back and home to my father and siblings in the paper business. After a couple of years, I set up Wilshire Lab in the lower portion of my house with the seed money of Rs2.5 million. For shifting the unit from the residential area, I took a Rs0.6 million bank loan for purchasing a plot in the Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate. Now a state-of-the-art unit is functional on 12 kanals.
What is your biggest achievement?
A: My children. I am a self-made man and all my children are well-settled. My two sons are managing my business. Prof Ali Jawa is well reputed endocrinologist and fourth son is running his own IT company. My daughter is a well-known nutritionist.
What is your greatest fear in life?
A: I wish this legacy and good name prevails. I have devised a system to minimise the chances of conflict among brothers. My elder son Prof Ali Jawa will be head of the family for taking important decisions.
What is your favourite sport? Have you been an athlete yourself?
A: Cricket… Like most of the people of my generation, I played cricket in streets and school/college grounds.
Do you listen to music?
A: I listen to music only while travelling. At home, I prefer watching current affairs programme.
How many hours do you work in a day?
A: Prior to my children’s involvement in the business, I usually spent around 18 hours on desk and field. Now I just spent two to hours in the factory, while the rest of the time is for friends and walk in the Model Town Park.
Which is your favourite holiday destination and why?
A: I travelled a lot in the past, visited almost all European countries, and stayed in the US for years. Due to love for mountains and nature, my favourite destinations are Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
iPhone or Android phones?
Which clothing brands do you frequently wear?
A: I am not a brand conscious, and can wear any brand and even get clothes stitched from tailors.
What prompted you to join business politics?
A: I desired to make my experience and expertise productive for my community. My politics is aimed at playing the role of a bridge between the policymakers, executers and the business community.
What can make the business environment easy and encouraging for the new entrants?
A: Minimum bureaucratic hurdles and one-window facility for the new entrants, who need to run from one department to the other for getting a go-ahead to start a business.
What is the future outlook of the overall business environment in Pakistan?
A: I am optimistic about the future of the business environment. The industry is growing with gradual increase in exports. Hopefully, the trend will continue in the days to come.
What should the government do to increase exports of medicines?
We are getting access to only Asia and Africa. Entering Europe and the US market is a big challenge. The issue is the exorbitant fee for seeking FDA approval for a drug. India has access to the EU and the US markets, as its products got approval in the past when the fee was not that high. The Export Promotion Bureau should help the pharmaceutical companies in getting FDA approval for their products.
Who is your inspiration?
Uncle Shahid Ali Jawa is my inspirational role model. Though uneducated, he possessed vast knowledge and huge business skills. He took the chemical business of the family to new heights. I learnt business ethics from my late uncle. He was such a caring person that he helped me get a bank loan for purchasing a plot for setting up a factory in the Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate.
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