Pakistani entrepreneur expands popularity of “Made in China” products among increasingly more Pakistanis

(People's Daily Online) 10:49, January 04, 2022

When it comes to buying air conditioners in Pakistan, Haier has always been the first choice for many locals. This is because Haier has built a good reputation for itself in the local market over the past 20 years of developing the local market in an in-depth manner and also because Haier has been a supporter of cricket, a very popular sport in Pakistan, during its toughest times.

Muhammad Javed Afridi(Photo courtesy of the interviewee)

Muhammad Javed Afridi is a Pakistani man who started his professional career as a marketing manager at Haier Pakistan in 2005 and three years later in 2008 he was promoted to become the CEO of Haier Pakistan. Afridi is also the founder and executive chairman of Peshawar Zalmi, one of the most celebrated cricket teams of the Pakistan Super League. Haier Pakistan is a sponsor of Peshawar Zalmi.

In an interview he had with the Global People, Afridi expressed that the passion which the people of Pakistan have for cricket cannot be explained in words, and Haier and cricket share a similarity in that a strong spirit was required to build each of them and with both brands being about the people.

In March 2009, terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan national cricket team who was competing in Pakistan, injuring and killing several people, including Sri Lankan cricket players. After the incident, international cricket events were banned in Pakistan for several years.

But, in many ways, Haier came to the rescue by funding the Pakistan Super League and helping the league resume business as usual. This brought Haier closer to the people of Pakistan.

Afridi initiated a strategy of increasing Haier’s exposure through cricket. The Haier logos had appeared on Peshawar Zalmi team uniforms multiple times during cricket games and Haier commercials had been aired on televisions during cricket games. Moreover, a commercial featuring cricket and Haier had even appeared on more than 100 buses running on streets in London.

Haier entered the Pakistani market in 2001, getting the business started with no prior experience to learn from or no sales channels available. Nowadays, Haier products, including refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, and freezers, have all grabbed the largest shares in the local market of Pakistan for five consecutive years since 2016.

Afridi became a member of Haier Pakistan in 2005 after graduating from London School of Economics. Before that, Haier and Pakistani firm Ruba, which is a family business of Afridi’s and is run by his father, had jointly built the Haier Industrial Park. In 2006, the two companies jointly established the Haier-Ruba Economic Zone, which had been China's first overseas economic and trade cooperation zone approved by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. The Haier Industrial Park is located in the economic zone.

The cooperative partnership has driven Haier to become the most popular foreign-invested home appliance brand in Pakistan. Afridi, who has witnessed and taken part in the efforts, said soon after he joined Haier Pakistan, he found that there were enormous business opportunities for Haier in Pakistan. He also tailored development strategies for the company so that it could fully penetrate the local market.

Haier had developed an air conditioner that had rechargeable batteries inside to make the machine able to efficiently purify indoor air in case of a power outage. The company also worked with the local government to develop a laptop for students.

Afridi is also an Internet celebrity, having more than 2 million followers on Facebook and 1 million followers on Twitter. Through the platforms he often released information about products and services newly released by Haier.

Afridi expressed the hope that Pakistan could further expand cooperation with China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He also hoped that there will be more exchanges between students of the two countries, and more technical talents cultivated through cooperation between the two countries so that they could make greater contributions to boosting the home appliance industry and deepening BRI cooperation.

Afridi was a recipient of the first Silk Road Friendship Ambassador Award, an honor that was bestowed on the man by the China International Cultural Exchange Center in 2020. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


Related Stories