A Birmingham firm run by an Asian family forced to flee Uganda during the terror reign of Idi Amin terror and then had their shop burnt down in the Handsworth riots has a new lease of life – thanks to a key business initiative.
City-based Jivaji Auto Factors has recovered from the bodyblow of being razed to the ground in 1985 to establish itself as a £900,000 turnover concern with 12 employees across retail and wholesale operations in Lozells Road and Aston.
And the firm is now looking to double profits over the next three years after graduating as part of the first Midlands cohort of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme, in conjunction with Aston University.
The firm was originally founded by Fazal Kapasi in 1973 after he and his wife were forced to flee Uganda when Amin expelled thousands of Asians from the African state.
“My parents moved to Leicester briefly before coming to Birmingham, where they started from scratch in 1973,” said Habil Kapasi. “Then the shop in Lozells Road was burnt down in the Handsworth riots in 1985 and they had to start from scratch again.
It was not until 1990 that the shop was rebuilt. Fazal and Khatija are in their 70s now and are still active in the business, although they are looking to take a back seat. Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the business.”
The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme aims to boost local economic growth and job creation through practical business education and support services. Graduates were due to receive their certificates at a dinner at Aston Business School on April 25.
“The Small Businesses programme has been fantastic. It has given me a much clearer idea of the future of the business and its direction.
"We have been given training about financial aspects, sales and marketing and human resources. We have managed to survive without a business plan, on instinct alone, but now we have got something we can aim at. Now we are targeting a doubling of profits within three years. The programme has taught us a lot we need to work on.”
The firm sells car spares and accessories and has more than 6,000 part numbers in stock, selling and distributing through its retail outlet in Lozells Road and its wholesale business in Aston.
Businesses in the first cohort represented a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, business services, technology, retail and education. They ranged in size from approximately £200,000 in turnover to over £3 million. They were recruited from across the Midlands, including Birmingham, Coventry, Walsall, Solihull and Leicester.
Professor Mark Hart from Aston Business School, a globally recognised expert in entrepreneurship and small business performance, and the academic lead for the Goldman Sachs programme in the Midlands, said: “The West Midlands has a large number of entrepreneurs across a range of business sectors including social enterprises, and we are proud that some of the best are graduating.
“We anticipate they will move forward with their business growth plans and we have high hopes they will deliver much-needed additional wealth and jobs for this area.”
Applications are open for the third cohort of the programme in the Midlands from October to February 2013.