Plans training academies in three Pakistani cities

Abhinav Ramnarayan

Chennai, April 7

The Karachi-based Human Resource Solutions International (HRSI) and Chennai-based Ma Foi Consultants will form a joint venture to set up training academies in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Mr Murad Mashooqullah, Partner, HRSI, says, "In Pakistan, HR consultancy is not a formal industry, there are no large players but the economy is booming, like it did in India ten years ago, and we needed to look at an international tie-up to keep pace."

HRSI will look to leverage the expertise of Ma Foi in the field, instead of `reinventing the wheel'.

The company offers recruitment, payroll management and contractual employee management, and has about 40 clients in areas such as pharmaceutical, FMCG, banks, logistics and general manufacturing. Now it will look to expand its services to include the training of graduates to industry specific requirements.

Initially, the joint venture will establish three training academies, but will look to expand further, and also look to implement the franchise model that Ma Foi has in place in the Indian market.

"We are starting with the training academy because that is the need of the moment," said Mr Mashooqullah. "Guidance counselling is practically non-existent in Pakistan except at the elite institutes." But eventually, other services that Ma Foi specialises in will be utilised, such as temporary staffing.

Up to now, trade relations between Pakistan and India have not been great, he said, with severe restrictions on investment from Indian companies. But the present government has taken a lot of initiative to remove those restrictions, and pretty soon the market will be opened up, he said, and as more companies are established in the country, the need for recruitment and temporary staffing will grow.

Subsequently, with takeovers from foreign companies, the need to reorganise the structure of the firm will provide HRSI with more clients, he said, citing the example of the UAE's telecom giant Etisalat's takeover of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. HRSI provided top-level management recruitment services for Etisalat following the takeover.

Mr Pandia Rajan, Managing Director, Ma Foi, said that his company has been interested in Pakistan, and was on the look out for a partner who shares Ma Foi's value system and understands the local economy in Pakistan. He said that the joint venture would serve as an entry point for the company.

"Pakistan as a country has a lot to offer it is a highly liberalised economy, and has a fairly decent human capital, about 15 crore people," he said. It has some advantages over India, such as the Pakistan Chartered Accountant qualification being recognised in the US as opposed to the corresponding Indian qualification. This is something Ma Foi can take advantage of, acting as a bridge between CAs in Pakistan and the company's branch offices in the US.

He shares Mr Mashooqullah's views that there will be a big opening up of trade relations between the two countries, saying that six of Ma Foi's clients have expressed interest in investing in Pakistan.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 8, 2006)
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