Stories about business

Talking business

I once interviewed a brilliant young man, who started a business with a total investment of Rs800 and achieved the annual turnover of one million rupees in less than three years. He was in his early 20s and had a degree in business studies. But when I asked whether his business paid taxes and was a formally registered entity, he said he had so far managed to steer clear of all government offices. Their registration procedures are tedious, he told me, and he’d rather build his business than waste time standing in queues outside government offices. So what’s the exact number ...

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Takaful: Rules of Islamic insurance

With the recent launch of Takaful rules, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission Pakistan (SECP) has allowed conventional insurance companies to roll out Takaful, or Islamic insurance, products through window operations. Irked by the SECP’s move, existing Takaful operators went to court and got a restraining order over the implementation of the new rules from the Sindh High Court on August 2. Takaful operators say, the decision to allow conventional insurance companies to launch Islamic products will “distort” the segment, as window operators will conduct the Takaful business “in a manner against the principles of Sharia”. Insurance is undervalued in Pakistan. ...

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Facebook: Think before you ‘like’

Back in 2010, when Facebook first introduced a ‘like’ button as a way for people to ‘give positive feedback or to connect with things you care about on Facebook, it forever changed the meaning of the word; or at least, for its 850 million or so active users. Ten years ago, who would have thought regular people like you and I would exist so publicly online? We use our real names on social networks to share our lives with loved ones, openly show political support, voice our opinions without a second thought, upload pictures of the most important occasions of ...

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How to make it big in Pakistan

There are many mysteries surrounding the rich and elite in Pakistan. These mysteries  have haunted us since time immemorial; how do they do it? How did that man make it so big, so fast being, so young? Where does he work? How can he be so rich without a job? These questions haunted me during the day and gave me nightmares at night, and all I could keep thinking to myself was ‘but how?’ I am pleased to tell you all that I have finally cracked the code; I have all the answers now! Reading newspapers, court orders, precedents and online research ...

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The wailing wall of Israel

Perhaps we have all heard the oft repeated joke; when an American tourist came to Israel with the intention of visiting the Kotel (the Wailing Wall) but he forgot what it was called. When he stepped into a taxi, he said to the driver, Can you please take me to the place where all Jews cry? Do you know where this is? The taxi driver answered, Beseder – I’ll take you there. And he drove him straight to the taxation office! When I stepped outside the Easy Jet terminal on Tel Aviv International Airport, I felt chills travelling down my spine. They were partly ...

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The life of a business reporter

“Journalism is writing,” columnist Aakar Patel once told me, saying I should write more to justifiably be called a journalist. I was then a sub-editor on the Op-Ed desk of The News. After spending four years on that job, I knew I had become lazy, self-satisfied and highly opinionated – characteristics of a typical sub-editor. So I decided to become a business reporter after coming back from a one-year break that I took to do a Master’s degree in Journalism. If you think a business reporter’s job is a piece of cake, try having a direct conversation with a businessman. Ask him about his ...

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Food business: Branded versus unbranded

One of the most successful CEOs in Pakistan’s corporate history once remarked that promoting corporate farming brazenly in a country like ours was ‘criminal’ because it was likely to hurt the livelihood of people associated with agriculture, dairy and livestock sectors. Of course, his opinion matters and can’t be dismissed as the rant of a so-called leftie. However, I’m not sure if protecting the source of livelihood of a select few at the expense of the overall market efficiency should be a preferred alternative either. We’re all driven by self-interest, and my interest as a consumer who lives in an ...

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At least I can quote Shakespeare

I am majoring in English literature. The statement in itself does not sound too dramatic, so let me provide some context:  I am a Pakistani immigrant, living in New York, majoring in English literature.  Still, if someone is yet to see what I am trying to explain, let me clarify. Being an English major has led to several distinct issues that I now have to contend with. The first issue is majoring in English while attending a business school. Imagine a well-respected business school. Now, imagine someone who is in that business school and is more interested in Mary Shelley ...

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Video Blog: How to start a business with Rs10,000

This series honours entrepreneurs who use limited resources to survive in competitive markets. Their advice is simple, feasible  and most importantly practical! Their real life wisdom can help improve local economies and guide the common ...

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Political journalism vs Business journalism

Business journalism receives little attention in Pakistan. My observation is that most newspaper readers don’t read the business section the way they read the news, sports or opinion pages. Few newspaper readers have a favourite business writer. Of all the well-known journalists, op-ed writers (opinion and editorial), and analysts in our print media, hardly anyone specialises in business and the economy. Despite readers’ general apathy, the fact remains that business journalism matters more than political journalism. The op-ed pages of Pakistani newspapers are full of opinions and editorialisation. But you’d ask, “Isn’t that what op-ed is supposed to be:opinion and editorial?” Well, ...

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