Chief Executive, LEDtronics,
When did you arrive in the United States and why did you come?
I was born in Delhi, India, and migrated to Pakistan. I left my homeland for further education in March 1967. I wanted to be an engineer. There were maximum educational and business opportunities in the United States to further my education as an engineer that were not available in Pakistan. First, I attended Pasadena City College and then Cal State University, Los Angeles. I completed my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and worked in partnership with my brother designing electronic indicators.
Did you intend to return to your native country at the time?
At that time, I was focused on creating a light emitting diode company to help support my wife and children in California. However, I always had plans to give back to my homeland what I took out as a brain drain to help the people there. I knew I could do a lot more for my homeland from my newly adopted home.
Do you return to Pakistan now?
Yes. I lead several, philanthropic programs. One is Pehli Kiran, which translates as First Ray of Light. It funds programs that provide educational and health care opportunities to women, men and children of poverty in Pakistan. Another is the Barefoot Basketball Program, a nation-building initiative through team sports. I am also one of the founding directors of the National Commission for Human Development Fund. In addition, starting in 1998, my Karachi Pakistan assembly facility has provided training and jobs to young men and women in labor-intensive skills.
Why did you start your business in the United States instead of your native country?
I am a third-generation engineer. For professionals like myself, there cannot be a better place than the United States. Starting in 1983 as a small two-person manufacturing organization working out of my garage and kitchen with my wife, Almas, I was able to fulfill my vision of creating an LED lighting company in Torrance. It has grown, with sales approaching $20 million, with manufacturing facilities in Torrance and Karachi. If I had not moved to the United States, I would not have had the opportunity to create LEDtronics.
What was the biggest surprise about starting a business in the United States?
There were many people and established organizations ready to help me obtain the education and information I needed to be a successful entrepreneur. Although I was starting a two-person business, I had a large support network in the local community.
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