Karachi entrepreneur Saleem Rawjani had lost his thriving business, his investments, his friends and his health. He was on the verge of ending it all – until he heard about a scheme offering Khoja families interest-free small business loans.
Mr Saleem had worked day and night for more than a decade to establish his textile export business. He was living a luxurious life, with a beautiful house, valuable properties around the city, an expanding business and hundreds of employees.
Then disaster struck.
There was the great recession of 2008, political unrest in Pakistan after Benazir Bhutto’s murder and intense competition in the textile market. Mr Saleem’s business foundered. To add to his misery, the stock market collapse wiped out every little investment he had ever made.
“I started investing in property and stock to support myself while the textile industry recovered,” recalls Mr Saleem. “But the losses increased so much that I had to sell all my valuable property and I lost everything so fast that the pain became unbearable for me.”
His voice falters as he adds: “I wasn’t able to work and went into depression. The same people who used to come to me for financial assistance turned their faces away when I needed help.”
Rescue: a loan, advice and understanding
Then he heard about the interest-free small business loans scheme run in Karachi by HBT (the Haydari Benevolent Trust) for Khoja families.
This micro-finance project has already freed Khoja 215 families from the poverty trap and over the next five years aims to do the same for 1,500 more living in the city and earning less than $300 a month. It is so well run that it boasts a 98% payback rate.
“Someone told me about HBT and they helped me immensely. If they had not supported me I would have committed suicide,” says Mr Saleem. “They did not only complete the formality of giving me an interest-free loan; they mentored and advised me.”
HBT provided vital hand-holding as he regained his confidence and set up a new business, Sun Shine Electronics, which he has expanded thanks to multiple loans over the last eight years.
He has moved from a small shared shop to one of his own, and will receive continued help from HBT to further strengthen his business.
Uplifting a community
The revenues he earns are helping him pay off his debt as well as investing in his children’s education – he is therefore building a future for himself and his family, adding to the knowledge, talent pool and skills that can economically uplift a community.
In short, Mr Saleem was extremely fortunate to have found HBT at the tipping point of his life – HBT not only rescued him financially but also saved his life.
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