Hamza Abdul Rauf is a passionate entrepreneur with degree in Business Administration from the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi.
Hamza's fields of interests are Marketing, Retail & Brand building. He is a staunch believer in the phrase "co-operation over competition". Hamza Abdul Rauf won the award for "Young Digital Entrepreneur" at Pakistan's 1st Digital Awards "Pakistan Digi Awards 2017". He has also recently won an international award for CEO of the year (2018) by CEO World Awards and SVUS Awards which made him one of the youngest Pakistanis to achieve that feat on an international platform.
The Alumni Affairs Department interviewed Mr. Hamza Abdul Rauf for this quarter's exclusive feature
What is your favorite memory of the IBA?
There are many memories associated with the IBA but the one that stands out the most is my participation in the IBA Dramatics' Society's event 'Fringe', where IBA students participate in theatrical plays. In that I wrote, directed and acted out in a play; and that play won 4 awards. So, the effort that was put in and the amount of coordination done, was acknowledged when we were announced as winners for 4 awards: for best play, best director, best actor and Fringe champions. That is one of the most memorable events of my life at IBA.
What gaps do you feel are left untended in what is taught at the IBA and what's in practice?
The gap I feel, what's being implemented globally but not locally, is the association the linkage between the academia and the industrial sectors is weak, as compared to international universities where the level of interaction is high with the industry and employers. Similarly, projects offered are linked to the industries present over there and furthermore, the faculty involved too are experienced and seasoned industry experts, and I'm a supporter of these practices. Theoretical studies are important, they should be there but to understand them in local Pakistani environment, it is necessary to call in people from different industries. We should support local case studies too, since we usually cross-examine contemplate international case studies in our classes, it's better to have local examples too for relevant experience and learning.
IBA's role in establishing your business, was it helpful in getting you to make the right decisions?
Initially I didn't seek out much help from the IBA and alumni; but in terms of marketing my business venture IBA helped with that by circulating emails to alumni and students. IBA was gracious enough to let me set-up two activations on the campuses for free, as I was a student at that time. So, IBA has been a big supporter and I made sure to give back in a way, by installing charging stations at both campuses.
The IBA boasts about its strong alumni and student community, have they been your strength as well?
Absolutely, I would say that most of the student's success is mostly associated with the alumni network since this gives an edge to the IBA students over other students. Whenever I'm in a bind and need to contact any company, I use the alumni platforms such WhatsApp groups and other social platforms and I see such a prompt response and alumni are always eager to form alliances. The network has never failed me and it's a strength for entrepreneurs.
Understanding the market dynamics, where is e-commerce headed in Pakistan?
There's potential in the e-commerce sector of Pakistan, that's because e-commerce is less than 1% of the total retail economy of Pakistan right now. So, there's a lot of untapped market, a lot of space to grow in the next 5 to 10 years. With the implementation of digital and e-commerce policy and e-commerce policy by the government, 4G implementation, wide spread internet connectivity and such, these things affect e-commerce positively. Similarly, digital payment options have paved way as well. One good thing that's happening now is that foreign investors and venture capitalists are investing in Pakistani e-commerce business and are looking at the industry in a positive light.
Entrepreneurial development in Pakistan, what motivates the youth to step up and start their own business? What motivated you?
Motivation is subjective, what might be motivating for someone will not be relevant to another. As for me, I became an entrepreneur by circumstances as some events occurred in our family, the company where my father was the CEO got hijacked and we got a reality check after that. So, my brother and I stepped in to assist our father, to take over and build something of our own. This was our motivation and the reason we started Telemart.
As a young entrepreneur, what challenges do you feel are inevitable when establishing one's business?
It depends upon the kind of business you're setting up and you would face different challenges for businesses. General challenges include lack of support from society or other businesses, which I feel is mitigated to an extent through mentoring such as mentoring through incubation centers.
What is Telemart for you? It is just a business or a sustainable organization, built to last?
Telemart for me is a movement to redefine and revolutionize the retailing landscape of Pakistan, this is our main vision. We see that 99% of transactions that take place in Pakistan are offline, taking place at conventional stores. At Telemart, we have come up with a perfect blend which is the omni-channel which allows us to cater to customers online and offline.
Pakistan has a suitable environment for young entrepreneurs, yes or no? What would you like to have changed?
Yes, Pakistan has a suitable environment for young entrepreneurs. Challenges, risks, obstacles are faced in every walk of life, so be it any business they would have them. Pakistan's market size is significantly large and since we're not one of the developed economies, many young entrepreneurs have successfully implemented localized international models. One thing that I suggest should be done is that the government should introduce policies and regulations through frequent awareness sessions. There should be educational platforms where entrepreneurs are able to obtain information and get clarity.