No compromise on credibility
Shazil Imtiaz Rafi is the managing director of Rafi Group, the company which has so far developed 11 high-rise buildings and housing schemes without reporting a single violation.
Keeping in view the growth of Gwadar being a focal point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Rafi Group launched its flagship project Green Palms Housing, which spans over 10,000 kanals to meet the future residential and commercial needs in the wake of the imminent migration towards the developed port city.
The first phase of the project, development of 4,000 kanals, is scheduled to be completed in 2023. Shazil, the younger son of Chairman Imtiaz Rafi, supervised the purchase of all land in Gwadar well before the start of the development work under the CPEC. This young entrepreneur believes that the CPEC and Gwadar are synonyms and key to the economic growth of Pakistan.
The reason behind the brand name-Rafi Group?
A: My grandfather Muhammad Rafi Butt is a hero of our family. Even my father has not seen him. He struggled a lot to discover events relating to Rafi Butt. Now everyone knew about Rafi Butt, his close association with Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the credit goes to my father. He (Imtiaz Rafi) has rightly chosen the name of his father for the company. I have given the name of my grandfather to my only son.
How did Rafi Group manage to avoid a single violation even after doing so many projects?
A: We believe in strictly following the rules and regulations. We adopt all procedures, while procuring land and get the plan approved before the execution of the project. Though it takes time, we are not ready to make a compromise on our credibility.
What was your first business venture?
A: The Defence Mall was my first business venture, which I did after I had completed my A levels. At such a tender age, I got the experience of dealing with the regulators, administration and customers.
What is your greatest fear in life?
A: Continuing the legacy of my father in the real estate business is a big challenge. Honesty, customer care and enabling contractors/partners to get their due share will be the right direction. My father has distributed responsibilities between me and my elder brother Shaharyar Imtiaz, chief executive officer of the Rafi Group. I am looking after land buying, regulations and the commercial division, while my brother is managing the design and development division. We both jointly oversee business development and growth opportunities along with our father.
What is your favourite sport? Have you ever been an athlete yourself?
A: Swimming….But Covid-19 has disturbed the routine. Hopefully, normalcy will return in the days to come.
Do you listen to music?
A: I listen to music only, while travelling.
How many hours do you work in a day?
A: I usually spend around 10 hours in the office and field. I continue to work even from home after office hours. I believe one should be passionate about work.
Which is your favourite holiday destination and why?
A: Dubai for short holidays, as I have a lot of friends over there and can get access to anything, from shopping malls to beaches, within a short distance. Definitely, Europe is for long holidays.
iPhone or Android phones?
A: iPhone due to connectivity with multiple devices like phone, iPad, laptop. But I do not change the mobile model until or unless the existing one starts causing problems.
Which clothing brands do you frequently wear?
A: I am not a brand conscious, and can wear any brand. I usually wear shalwar kameez stitched by my tailor.
What are the challenges for the new entrants?
A: Capital is the main issue in the property business. You need to have enough money for starting a new venture. Selling files and then looking for land is unethical and unprofessional. Then basic knowledge, honesty and care of clients are keys to success.
What is the future outlook of the overall business environment in Pakistan?
A: I am optimistic about the future of the business environment. The law and order situation has improved gradually, which coupled with the government initiatives, have provided a conducive atmosphere for the property business. Hopefully, the trend will continue in the days to come.
Who is your inspiration?
A: My father Imtiaz Rafi is my hero and inspirational role model. A self-made man, he facilitated me in acquiring business knowledge at a tender age. After completing A-Levels from the International School of Choueifat, I spent three years in the office and field before leaving for Canada for higher education. The philosophy behind this was that I should have practical business knowledge before doing BBA from Concordia University, Canada. I learnt business ethics from him. For me, credibility is more important than money.
How important is CPEC for the development of Gwadar and the overall economic progress of Pakistan?
A: Gwadar and CPEC are synonymous and important for uplifting the economy of Pakistan. The Gwadar Smart Port City project is part of the CPEC. Development of port, expressways, airport and powerhouses will increase the importance of Gwadar as a business hub. To contribute to the value chain, we have launched Green Palms Housing to cater to the needs of possible migration of people. The state-of-the-art housing scheme is at a six-kilometre distance from the sea, with one-and-a-half kilometres front on the coastal highway. There are 10 boulevards, each 160-feet wide, in the housing scheme, covering more than 10,000 kanals.
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