Stories about business

The taboo against ambition

When I was eight-years-old my greatest pleasure in life was spending Saturday afternoons in my father’s office. I would be allowed to sit at his massive oak desk with mountains of papers and neaten up while he looked at files or took phone calls. I was mesmerized by the sheer amount of papers he could read, the fact that he had a computer at his desk and a secretary outside his office. As my mary-janed feet dangled from his swivel chair I would think “Daddy must be smart”. The measures by which my eight-year-old self had determined that my father was successful were ...

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IBA vs LUMS: The ultimate business school face-off

In an age of no scarcity in rivalries, new borders are being drawn. This time students of Pakistan’s two premier business schools are trading jabs at each other, vying for the enviable title of the country’s best educational institution. Competition may not always be healthy but for the neutral observer it is always highly amusing. And so, as an unbiased observer who graced the halls of neither IBA nor LUMS, I would like to present a collection of arguments (based on impeccable logic and verified facts) presented by either side as to why one has always trumped the other. Enter ...

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What you need to know about RGST

The Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) Bill has become the latest ground for political games. While the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) calls it a necessity, almost all parties are in strong opposition. Amidst the political rhetoric, economic experts are siding with the proposed taxation system and the public is flinching at the thought of yet another price hike. What is the RGST? Why is it suddenly so important? Is it really as evil as they say? Here are a few answers. What is the RGST? The RGST is actually plain old Value Added Tax (VAT) with a new name. Since the VAT has ...

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Private airlines: A show of poor customer care

What’s worse than having a flight repeatedly delayed? Is it that you might be delayed by up to twenty four hours? No. Is it the annoyance at the added wait with a dash of inconvenience at having to locate the next possible flight? No, not even close. Perhaps its the irritation you feel at having to hold the line, while the delayed airlines’ operators finish laughing at your misery. No. Close. The worst thing about a delayed flight is customer service. There is nothing worse than when you’ve been clutching the phone receiver to your ear, breathlessly waiting for a voice on the other end to shine a ...

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Pakistan needs to take entrepreneurs seriously

Our governing mentality has mostly been about ‘providing’ jobs and not ‘creating’ them. There is a very big difference between the two approaches that also reflect different governing philosophies. When you hear stories about inefficiency and corruption in government run institutions (like the Pakistan Railways), it is due to the first approach. Governments find it expedient to hand out jobs to people to improve employment figures even when state owned companies do not need any more people. Jobs are also given to party workers to find a way to keep them satisfied. Alas, our political culture is as such! This ...

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China: too large to mess with

After a long time I actually felt my politics and economics degree was worth something when I heard that the infamous Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, actually went to the airport to receive – with full military honours – his Chinese counterpart President Hu Jintao, who arrived in Paris on for a ‘state visit’ on Thursday. Even the controversial Sarkozy had to stoop to saying: “China should not be seen as a risk but an opportunity,” ahead of Hu’s arrival. Of course this angered human rights activists, who accuse the Chinese government for a whole bunch of violations in the ...

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Why our business grads are unprepared for the real world

It came as a shock to me when I read somewhere that Tokyo city alone had over 200 universities. If we check the list of the most populous cities in the world, Karachi is included in the top five, while Tokyo is not even in the top 10. Considering the huge difference in the population and education facilities, no wonder we have so many fake graduates ruling us. When deciding to apply for graduate and post graduate programs, the youth find themselves facing extremely limited choices. If we consider business schools only, the top business school in Karachi doesn’t really ...

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Islamic banking, blazing new trails in the Persian Gulf

The last few months have seen a sudden upsurge in the Islamic loans market in the Persian Gulf countries. Investors sold sukuk bonds (Shariah-compliant bonds) with lower debt ratings, in order to raise funds for issuing new, state-backed sukuk bonds. Islamic finance has spread widely. Due to the huge returns from investing in Islamic bonds, or sukuk, more and more people are investing and utilising the proceeds to pay off debt relief services. The sale of Islamic bonds by banks in the Persian Gulf may rise up to $1.5 billion in the month of October; that will be highest ever ...

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The real entrepreneurs of Pakistan

Shakeel operates a DVD rental shop in the building across the street from where I live. It’s nothing too fancy, just a couple of shelves in a six-by-four feet space, in a market dominated by tailors and kapra walas. He comes in at about 4 pm every day, and takes the 10 pm bus back home. All day, he rents out pirated copies of the latest Hollywood and Bollywood flicks to clients at his little shop. Shakeel’s a young guy, maybe 24, with glasses that look remarkably similar to mine. His mother doesn’t let him go to his shop if ...

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IT woes: Pakistan’s software houses need to share

Despite their strength in numbers, many local industries have lost their competitive edge in core product offerings. Let us examine one such industry: Pakistan’s IT sector. The two biggest industry associations, PASHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association) and PSEB (Pakistan Software Export Board) represent a total of 1,800 members (400 and 1400 respectively). But these numbers do not translate into dollars when compared to other regional players. Despite the large number of PSEB members, the total size of software and IT services export from Pakistan is only slightly over a billion dollars – that is 50 times less than India’s. Although Pakistan’s IT Industry ...

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