Hamdard Pakistan: The legacy continues
Khaleej Times spoke to Fatema Munir Ahmed Sahiba, Managing Director and CEO of Hamdard Pakistan recently. Below are excerpts from the interview:
Fatema Munir Ahmed Sahiba, Managing Director and CEO of Hamdard Pakistan
What is your vision for Hamdard?
My vision for Hamdard is the same as the vision of my grandfather, Shaheed Hakim Mohammed Said, who established Hamdard in Pakistan in 1948. To ensure the promotion of Herbal Medicine, health and education in the society and render services to humanity that will always be the main objectives of Hamdard Pakistan.
To elucidate these objectives, I would like to take you back to the last century when my great grandfather, Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed had established Hamdard, Delhi, in 1906 and set the following high aims and objectives of his legacy despite paucity of resources and gave it the beautiful name of "Hamdard" which means: 'A sympathiser and sharer in pain.'
Hamdard also stands:
To preserve and promote the knowledge application of Herbal Medicines.
To teach the principles of health, hygiene and medical science.
To serve the humanity selflessly.
Shaheed Hakim Mohammed Said gave Hamdard a new dimension by extending its scope even to that extent that when he was martyred in 1998 he was outside his clinic in Karachi to treat his patients, where he would always serve his people free-of-charge.
Hamdard, being the torch-bearer for herbal medicine (Tibb-i-Unani), after Hakim Saheb, took time but managed to rebrand itself about two years ago. The vision of Shaheed Hakim Said was very simple which was to revive and recognise alternative medicine, the medicine of our forefathers and bring it back to the subcontinent. After Hakim Saheb, his daughter Sadia Rashid, chairperson of Hamdard Pakistan, and I wish to see Hamdard achieve its founder's vision. Indeed, it will be a long and difficult journey, but I believe we will succeed with flying colours by the grace and will of the Almighty.
Tell us about your new products.
Team Hamdard has introduced three new products:
Hamdard Instant Joshanda
Hamdard Ispaghol classic
Rooh Afza Go launched in the Holy Month of Ramadan
Instant Joshanda is an herbal formulation for being beneficial for cold, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, flu and influenza. It is a remedy of unani medicine, based on old prescriptions, proved to improve one's health.
The product is 100 per cent herbal, free from artificial elements and can be used as herbal tea. It can also be used to cure a chronic flu and fever. We have received a very positive response from our consumers.
Hamdard Ispaghol classic: The Ispaghol husk (Phylum husk) contains natural, edible fiber which gives many health benefits e.g. relieves constipation, helps to treat diarrhea, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels, aids weight loss and is good for the heart. It is an effective remedy for an upset stomach as it's a prebiotic.
Rooh Afza Go: Hamdard's star launch for this year was 'Rooh Afza Go'. We supplied it in large quantities to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for its in-flight passenger consumption in the Holy Month of Ramadan. Hamdard Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on April 30, 2019, with the PIA at Hamdard Corporate Office at Bahria Town Tower Karachi. The Chairperson Sadia Rashid, distinguished guests, staff, officials, airhostesses of PIA, Hamdard's directors, managers, staff, workers and I attended this ceremony along with our ex-Managing Director.
Expressing his pleasure over the coordination between Hamdard and PIA, Muhammad Amir Memon, General Manager, Brand Management, PIA, said: "Rooh Afza is the national drink and PIA is the national airline and their partnership is but natural. Rooh Afza Go was offered to all passengers domestic and international, at Iftaar and they loved it."
What is your view on the export market for Hamdard. Will the weaker Rupee help increase export?
Depreciation of the local currency always assists exporters as they earn more on same volume of exporting goods. However, it also increases the value of imports which become more expensive. Thus, cost of doing business increases ultimately.
I think, what the government should do is to help exporters explore and highlight new markets. It is done through free trade agreements, mutual agreements on enhancing bilateral trade.
Give us a brief on your presence on PIA flights.
Well, our experience and presence of 'Rooh Afza Go' on PIA flight was excellent and rewarding. The flight passengers not only loved 'Rooh Afza Go', but preferred it to any other drink as traditionally Rooh Afza is used at the time of Iftaar. Some were pleasantly surprised that Hamdard managed to initiate a ready to drink beverage.
'Voice of America' while telecasting a documentary on Ramadan a few years ago, commented: "The shopping of Ramadan of South Asian Muslims living in America is not complete without Rooh Afza". Muslims across the world prefer and love Rooh Afza.
Having been encouraged by this experience, we have increased the production and supply of Rooh Afza Go. Now it is available in every major city of Pakistan, initially it was limited to Karachi. We have received a fantastic response and feedback from consumers especially the new generation.
Please tell our readers about your corporate philanthropy.
Hamdard Pakistan takes its corporate social responsibility (CSR) always very seriously. Our Rooh Afza Heatwave Campaign is one prime example which is spread out over two months of June and July in Lahore and Karachi to rescue the citizens from sun strokes and other heat related ailments. Our services were highly appreciated especially by the over populated areas and by the local governments.
We support the Burns Centre of Dr Ruth Pfau Karachi, specifically their Paediatric ICU. No one should be denied treatment due to lack of funds.
Hamdard also supports Ahsan Trust. Chairperson Sadia Rashid and Dr Imran Usmani, President, Ahsan Trust signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organisations. Ahsan Trust gives 'Qarz-i-husna' to the deserving students of secondary education for their higher education.
Hamdard's permanent philanthropic activities, started right from the time of Shaheed Hakim Mohammed Said and are continuing even after his demise. For e.g. Hamdard Free Mobile Dispensaries are providing health facilities to the poor and the needy at their doorstep in the outskirts of every major city of the country; scholarships to widows, promising students and small schools; distribution of quilts and blankets in the winter season and rations during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Sadia Rashid is a great believer and champion of her father's cause and she has widened the scope of Hamdard's philanthropic activities.
Any other point you wish to highlight.
"If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress." - Barack Obama
Pakistanis abroad and in Pakistan should be proud of their brands and should promote their brands all over the world.
Our founder's life's motto was 'Love Pakistan Build Pakistan' and this was, is and will always be our philosophy at Hamdard. To Build Pakistan we, as a nation, should promote our culture, our brands and our heritage.