Rashid Ali describes growing up in a very poor household where his father struggled to support the family. Even though he was a good student, Mr. Ali decided at a young age to drop out of school and help his father, sacrificing his own chance at an education so that his younger siblings could stay in school instead. He began working at a local power loom in Pakistan’s vast textile industry, starting work at 8 in the morning and pulling frequent double shifts to keep up with demand.
Mr. Ali’s hard work paid off, and within a short time he was factory foreman. Then in 1996, his eyesight began to fail. Doctors attributed the condition to overwork, but said there was nothing they could do. And shortly, Mr. Ali became legally blind. Saying he did not want his handicap to tarnish the reputation as an excellent worker that he had been building for so long, Mr. Ali resigned from the factory to focus on his medical care. For the next six years, he and his family struggled to adjust to the new reality of his blindness. He worked odd jobs but his family members, concerned for his health and safety, always intervened. Mr. Ali describes those years as a period of deepening faith as he prayed intensely for guidance and courage.
Then he found out about a plant in his neighborhood that manufactured special wire brushes used in the construction trade. The owner of the factory agreed to hire Mr. Ali despite his blindness, and with a little extra training, Mr. Ali was able to do the job. Even though he only earned 50 rupees his first day at the brush factory, Mr. Ali describes the job as something that gave him a sense of hope. Eventually the owner laid Mr. Ali off; he needed to give Mr. Ali’s job to a family member. But by then, Mr. Ali’s confidence had grown to the point that he realized he could have his own brush factory.
With the help of Kashf Microfinance Bank Ltd. (now FINCA Microfinance Bank Ltd), Mr. Ali has steadily expanded his business, acquiring more machines, hiring workers, and selling more product. He has created three jobs so far, along with supporting his own family, and has plans to keep growing.