Seth Ahmed Dawood
Seth Ahmad Dawood, one of the pioneering industrialists of Pakistan
He led a long eventful life and saw many ups and downs in his business. Yusuf Shirazi, a well-known entrepreneur with business interest in diverse fields, call Mr Ahmad Dawood “a visionary rather than a business manager.” He recalls Mr Ahmad Dawood telling him that his job was “to conceive and set up the project.” The running and management of the projects was the job that was left to his brothers and his sons. “He had the knack of conceiving high-tech and capital-intensive projects and all profitable,” Mr Shirazi said.
Mr Ahmad, son of Dawood, was born in Bantva, a small sleepy town in Kathiawar. His father was a trader. Mr Ahmad found Bantva too small for his business acumen and migrated to Bombay. Just before Independence, Mr Ahmad Dawood had established a trading house dealing in commodities, textiles, jute and yarn, with branches in many cities and towns in pre-partition India.
“He was commanded by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah to migrate to Pakistan and set up an industry,” Meher Alavi, a former President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said.
With Adamjees and Valikas, Dawoods played the pioneering role in late forties and early fifties to create a business culture in what was then West Pakistan. Dawood Cotton Mills, an integrated textile project in 1951, must have been a dream in 1947. Karnaphuli Paper Mills was set up in East Pakistan by the EPIDC but acquired by Dawood who transformed it into a vibrant industrial unit. It met the newsprint requirements of the country before separation of the East Pakistan in 1971.
Separation of East Pakistan in 1971, massive nationalization in 1972 which took away life insurance and petroleum business and finally a split in the family, gave one after other setbacks to the business of Mr Ahmad Dawood.
Dawoods played a leading role in the public welfare. Dawood Foundation was set up in 1961 with a capital of Rs25 million. Dawood Engineering College was set up in sixties which was later nationalized. It is still a leading institution of technical education.