Pakistan is never short of breathe when it comes to generating pearls who dazzle the world with their sheer talent and skills to master the world. Such a success story was born a few years ago in Pakistan when a young entrepreneur decided to swim against the tide.
It is said in the business world that success is always hiding in a place where no one is looking for it.
Karachi’s Syed Mahir Shehzad had the eye to locate the right place for his business, where no one else was ready to give it a shot. The 36-year-old Pakistani entrepreneur came up with the idea to defy the odds in the context of geopolitical challenges in Afghanistan and reach a country like Kyrgyzstan to do his business.
Let me remind you that Pakistan doesn’t have a direct border with Kyrgyzstan rather Pakistanis have to cross Afghanistan to get to the Central Asian State. If that wasn’t enough, Syed Mahir Shehzad opted for a remote town of Naryn, which is not even celebrated at the Google search engine map. Naryn is a five-hour drive away from the Kyrgyz capital city of Bishkek. It is a remote town whose population is not more than 35,000. Even a small locality in Karachi would have more populace than that.
First of all, let me tell you about what Syed Mahir Shehzad actually does as an entrepreneur or a businessman. The 36-year-young business genius owns ‘Dimensions’ – a brand that manufactures and assembles the ultra modern office furniture. In a short span of time, ‘Dimensions’ has given the leading global brands a good run for their money.
Pakistan doesn’t enjoy very fruitful trade relations with Kyrgyzstan. According to the official figures released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Pakistan’s exports to the Central Asian States (CAS) like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan amounted to 25 million U.S. dollars in 2015. Even a year later, the trade with Kyrgyzstan was about 736,000 U.S. dollars; the figure completely tells the story of how Pakistani business community is missing out.
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Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the five CAS countries have become a massive 339 billion U.S. dollars robust economy which is largely yet to be tapped, especially by the Pakistani businessmen.
Pakistan’s furniture products manufacturing sector is also one of the least invested sectors of the national economy as they account for only 0.003 percent of the country’s total exports. Syed Mahir Shehzad seized the opportunity of exporting the top-notch Pakistani furniture products to Kyrgyzstan. His company ‘Dimensions’ manufactured a whole range of furniture solutions for the recently inaugurated 13,927 square meter campus of the University of Central Asia in the mountainous city of Naryn in Kyrgyzstan.
Speaking to local media recently, Syed Mahir Shehzad revealed the success story. He said the Dimensions sourced some of the material from China, Malaysia, and Indonesia but a major chunk of the products were assembled and manufactured in Pakistan. As Afghanistan has been battling an insurgency for over a decade, Mahir opted to deliver his products to Kyrgyzstan through Pakistan-China border at Sust.
In an interview Shehzad shared:
“It was challenging for us not just in the sense that we had to compete with leading European companies, we—or pretty much any furniture company in Pakistan—had never exported to Kyrgyzstan.”
After delivering the products to the Central Asian University in Naryn, Syed Mahir Shehzad’s next assignment is in Khorog, Tajikistan. He again plans to use the land route to China and then onwards to Tajikistan. This is where the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will come into play for Pakistani businessmen. The CPEC is set to change forever the way businesses are done in Central Asia and South Asia and Pakistani businessmen have a huge advantage to enter the lucrative Central Asian markets through the land route.
Syed Mahir Shehzad is a living success story to inspire the young Pakistani entrepreneurs to pounce on the opportunity provided under China’s ‘Silk Road – One Belt, One Road’ initiative and turn Made-in-Pakistan into one of the leading brands in the world.