Discussing Investment Philosophy with Zaffar Khan

By Acumen on May 14, 2014

In addition to being on Acumen Pakistan’s Advisory Council and Chair of Acumen Pakistan’s Board, Mr. Khan is also a member of Acumen’s Investment Committee, responsible for approving Acumen’s global investments. Mr. Khan also serves as Board Member of the Pakistan Center for Philanthropy. Previously, he has also served Chairman of PIA, KSE, and PTCL and President of Engro Chemicals Ltd. He sat down with us to discuss his investment philosophy, discussing what he looks for and common challenges he has seen.

1.    What do you look for in potential investments?

First and foremost, the investment should benefit those at the bottom of the pyramid. Secondly, it should be financially viable so that the project can economically sustain itself. To me, innovative ideas have a special appeal.

2.    What is common to all Acumen investments in your opinion?

The common factors that I see are a) the rigor in evaluation of the proposals & b) the promise of bringing prosperity to many who are economically constrained.

3.    What common challenges do you see in new investments?

The most frequently faced challenge is to offer goods and services at prices which are affordable for the target market and at the same time, are high enough to maintain the economic viability of the project. It is often difficult to meet both these considerations which is why considerable ingenuity is required to find viable projects.

4.    What differences have you noticed while reviewing investments from Pakistan and other regions?

A great majority of Acumen’s investments thus far have been in Africa, India and Pakistan. In Africa’s case there seems to be many more opportunities to capitalize on, whereas in India and Pakistan entrepreneurship truly stands out.

5.     What has been your motivation to work with Acumen in an Advisory capacity?

Simply said – the Acumen people and their way of doing “good”. I admire the Acumen team here and globally for their values, caliber, and dedication to making a difference to the world – this is inspiration enough for me.

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