The Founder 

     Late Muhammedali Esmail Habib 

Ever since the early 18th century, Bombay was India's largest trading city and one of the great ports of the Eastern world. From there, cotton , spices, silks and the raw materials of Indian subcontinent went  out to the world. Naturally, it was a magnet for energetic, hardworking persons having entrepreneurial skills. 

Here in 1841 a trading company by the name of Khoja Mithabhai Nathoo was established. It was family business trading in metals and other commodities which had clients both overseas and in the internal regions of India. 

In 1891, the family business was joined by a teenage boy by the name of Habib Esmail who was to transform the company. 

The business prospered and the family and the firm rapidly acquired a reputation for its fair dealing, honesty and trustworthiness. 

Upcountry traders returning home, began to deposit their surplus cash with the company  for safe keeping. From here to merchant banking was a natural progression as the company began to provide trading finance to its customers. 

The young Habib was so successful that by the age of 18 , he not only became a partner but was the president of 'Tamba Kanta Market' (metal market). His commercial skills, personal reputation and ever growing contacts built the company into a major trading firm. 

When his four sons joined him in business , Habib Esmail established , 'Habib & Sons' in 1921 and changed the name of the family in 'Habib'.

Habib and sons  went on to become the flagship of the family and the parent of Habib Bank Ltd. 

Motivating Force. 

His sons having learnt the quality of head and heart from their much loved father, became the motivating force in the family. Among his sons, Mohammed Ali Habib showed exceptional  quality of leadership and vision and had the uncanny capability of taking out 120 per cent from any person that was associated with him. He was to play a very important role in the Habib family and in its growth and expansion as also in its social and charitable services to fellow Muslims and also in the new country to be formed---Pakistan. 

When the independence movement gathered momentum ,Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah began to promote the cause of a separate state of Pakistan. Habibs were close family friends of Jinnah and soon after the declaration demanding an independent Pakistan at Lahore in 1940, Mohammed Ali Habib with the full support of his brothers, particularly Dawood Habib , upgraded the family's merchant banking practice into a full fledged commercial public limited bank in August 1941. The family called it the Habib Bank Lt'd in the memory of their much adored father-Habib Esmail.

    The Bank was organized from the very beginning  on the British Banking System and it followed the principal of sound conservative approach with emphasis on high liquidity. Habib Bank filled in the vacuum in the banking in Sub continent by opening 34 branches in five year all over India. Its service were to change the very pattern of branch banking in undivided India (when Indian Bank expanded only in the cities and provinces of their incorporation).

    The Habib Bank Limited played a pivotal role in bringing the banking habit to the middle class in general and Muslims in particular .Habib Bank Ltd. in keeping with progressive banking started to issue its own assayed gold medallations.Mohammed Ali Habib ensured these medallions were purer and 1,1000 heavier than assayed stamp showed.

    There were delighted stories of customers who would weigh the medallions to find they got in weight the gold of 1001 medallions. Naturally Habib Gold commanded and was in demand beyond the shore of India as far as China. Even to this day people mainland China to Honk Kong sometimes bring Habib Gold coins with them for exchange or sale .The bank ,however ,had to suspend its gold operation once it became illegal after the Second World war.Habib Bank AG Zurich has since resumed the tradition of issuance of its own gold medallions.

Creation of Pakistan

    The Habibs had transformed the bank's head office to Karachi 1947 just before the creation of Pakistan in the same year. Habib Bank was to play a vital role in providing the basic banking and financial in building the economy of the new country. The bank began setting up almost immediately a network of branches both in east and west Pakistan to help keep the goods and machinery of the industries moving.

    It also took up the first ever issue of government securities in full made by the Government of Pakistan.

    Habib Bank also established a training college for suitable future bank officers. When other Pakistani Commercial Bank began operations in the country ,most of the senior staff were provided by Habib Bank Ltd.

    The trustworthiness and reputation of the Habibs  prompted the Government of Pakistan to undertake the government's treasury functions.Mohammed Ali Habib turned down this lucrative and prestigious offer in the best interest of the country instead whole-heartedly  participated in the formation of State Bank of Pakistan and the National Bank of Pakistan.He also transferred experienced staff from Habib Bank Ltd to run it.

    At the same time ,Habib Bank's own development was proceeding at healthy pace  and the bank was able to create a considerable banking infrastructure throughout Pakistan.

    In 1951 ,Mohammed Ali Habib established Habib Bank (overseas ) Ltd with its branch at Colombo and soon there were over 40 branches and offices spread from Honk Kong to New York and from Mombassa to Manchester.

Mohammedali Habib passed away on March 30, 1959 at the age of 55. This legend of a man during his short life created on of the finest family business empires covering banking, insurance, shipping, trading and numerous industries. 

In Social welfare, his activities were so widespread that hardly any conceivable social activity escaped hi attention. He established numerous  benevolent trusts for education , hospitals, orphanages, mosques , medical relief trusts , trusts for housing  for the poor, trusts for food and clothing etc.

Muhammedali Habib was a loving father, a very courageous man, a builder, a patriot, a philanthropist , motivator of man and a champion of widows and the poor. He was deeply religious and a devout Muslim. He compiled a translation of the Holy Quran with footnotes and other religious literatures which he published under his pen-name M.H. Shakir. 

He had trained the young generation of Habibs in the true Habibian spirit to accept the challenges of the future.  



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