AN entrepreneurial spirit, combined with a burning determination to achieve and the financial clout of an extended family has laid the foundations for success for many a business run by members of South Yorkshire’s Asian community.
Among them is Abdul Khayum, managing director of the Redlands Business Centre.
Abdul Khayum’s father swapped a shop in his native Pakistan to come to Attercliffe and work as a labourer, doing jobs which a lot of Sheffield people shunned.
Although his father could not read and write in his own language, let alone in English, Abdul Khayum describes him as the driving force behind his family’s success.
“He put a lot of emphasis on education and the need to strive for a better life,” says Abdul Khayum.
“He was a shopkeeper in the village back home. He taught us a lot about business and honest dealings. He taught us to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, but not to be shy of taking risks.
“He taught us how to do ‘safe business’ so that if everything falls apart, you still have a roof over your head.”
In Abdul Khayum’s case, those lessons have taken him from being one of the first managers of the Pakistan Muslim Centre to running a company owning a number of residential properties and, now, a multi-million pound business centre.
His brother and business partner, Dr Amir Afzal, is a respected Sheffield GP and both men’s own children have completed university educations, with Abdul Khayum’s eldest son becoming a corporate barrister.
Being able to call on the backing of the extended family for funding and other support can prove crucial when it comes to mitigating risks.
“Sometimes you have to take a step in the dark,” says Abdul Khayum. “You have got to have a bit of courage.
“There’s always an element of risk, but the extended family gives you the assurance that if it all fails, you will still have a roof over your head and you won’t have to worry about feeding your family. We also look around and, if we see success, we want to replicate it in our own lives; it acts as a form of encouragement.
“It was a friend that advised me about how to buy a house and rent it out and the business grew from there. In the background, my brother was supporting me financially, the whole family got behind the business and it slowly built up over the years.”
Abdul Khayum also pays tribute to his elder brother’s business acumen.
“He has a knack for working out the way the market is going. He gives me an idea, I pick it up and run with it,” he says.
“He foresaw that the (domestic rental) market was going to overheat. It was one of the best decisions we made in business. We got rid of properties at the top of the market and moved to this investment here.”