Auto-driver to IIM case study: Pyare Khan’s journey on uncharted highway
Vivek Deshpande has beautifully captured the story of Pyare Khan’s hard work, determination and his growth as well as opportunities which a developing country like India throws to its ordinary citizens.
Pyare Khan’s journey starts from riding an autorickshaw in the by lanes of Nagpur. His desire of making big led him to take a loan for his first truck in 2004. He never looked back since then and his company is now a Rs 400-cr-turnover company that owns a fleet of 125 trucks and hires a fleet of over 3,000 trucks a day to ferry steel and power infrastructure across the country, and even abroad. He won the top prize in a contest for young transport entrepreneurs, a programme organised jointly by IIM-Ahmedabad and Mahindra Truck & Bus as he presented his case in Hindi and without any laptop.
“In 2004, when 26-year-old autorickshaw driver Pyare Khan approached the Nagpur branch of ING Vysya Bank for a loan to buy a truck, branch manager Bhushan Bais wasn’t impressed since Khan had little by way of collateral. Yet, after Khan’s relentless pursuit, Bais finally sanctioned a loan of Rs 11 lakh. Khan bought his truck and repaid the loan within two years, at least two years ahead of the deadline. On June 20 this year, when UAE-based investment bank Imperial Capital L.L.C. offered a loan of Rs 80 crore to Khan’s transport company, Ashmi Road Transport, leading the charge on Khan’s behalf was Bais as the company’s Head of Finance, a position he took up after he quit ING Vysya in 2016.
Between the story of these two loans lies the story of how Khan, now 41, scripted one of the most heartwarming entrepreneurial success stories. Registered in 2013, Khan’s Ashmi Road Transport Pvt Ltd is now a Rs 400-cr-turnover company that owns a fleet of 125 trucks and hires a fleet of over 3,000 trucks a day to ferry steel and power infrastructure across the country, and even abroad. The company has 10 branch offices across the country, with about 500 employees. Talking of his days of struggle, Khan says, “My mother Raisa Khatun did odd jobs to feed the four of us — my two brothers, a sister and me. We chipped in by selling oranges at the Nagpur railway station. As soon as I got a driving licence, I joined a courier company as driver but left the job after an accident in Odisha when I was 18. In the late nineties, I bought an auto-rickshaw and ran it for a while,” says Khan, adding that in those days, he played the keyboard and was part of Nagpur’s Melody Makers group. “I thought I should buy a bus to ferry our group to programme venues. So I bought one by selling some of my instruments and other valuables,” he says. That venture, however, soon went bust and in 2004, he decided to buy a truck. There has been no looking back since then. By 2007, Khan had a fleet of eight trucks and in 2013, he registered his company. Khan now undertakes deliveries for companies such as KEC International, JSW Steel, Tata and SAIL…..
Says Bais, “Though I had my reservations about granting him the loan in 2004, I had a gut feeling that he was perhaps an honest man. He proved me right. In 2016, after hearing of his impeccable credentials as a businessman, I accepted his offer to join him.” Khan’s moment of glory came in 2018, when he won the top prize in a contest for young transport entrepreneurs, a programme organised jointly by IIM-Ahmedabad and Mahindra Truck & Bus. Unlike 18 other contestants, two of them from the US, who were equipped with laptops and PowerPoint presentations, Khan simply stood up and presented his case, in Hindi.
“When the organisers of the contest asked me to take part, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t even know what IIM was. So I went there reluctantly, without knowing what to say,” says Khan. But when he was declared winner and he received the award, tears rolled down his cheeks, Khan says. For now, Khan is focussed on expanding his business. Ashmi Road Transport Private Limited will soon shift to a Rs 7-crore corporate office on three acres close to Nagpur city. “I intend to expand my business in a couple of years and generate more jobs, which is what our country needs the most,” says Khan.