Faces of Pro Poor Growth: Driving the engines of shoe-last manufacturing in Pakistan

Kaliq Shah intra systek

Khaliq Shah – Maintenance Supervisor, Intra-Systek

Lahore, Pakistan — The future seemed dismal for Khaliq Shah, a mechanic working in a bread factory when an accident resulted in a hand injury. Much to his disappointment, he did not receive any compensation from the factory, said goodbye to mechanical work and started work as a driver in a garment factory. In a serendipitous turn of events, he joined Intra-Systek, a manufacturing company, in 2007 as the driver for the CEO, and now he is working as a Maintenance Supervisor at the facility.

Mechanical work was always a passion for Khaliq Shah and something with which he always showed talent. During his years working as a driver never imagined he could work again with his passion for machinery mechanics. and the transformation into this new role was not sudden—but hard earned.

Working as a driver was difficult—the pay was low and it was difficult to make ends meet. During his time as a driver at Intra-Systek he began showing interest in routine tasks at the plant and when Intra-Systek imported its new shoe last machinery from India in 2014 to set up Pakistan’s first shoe-last manufacturing facility, Khaliq Shah played an indispensable role in the set-up and running of the machinery.

Khaliq Shah takes great pride in his work. “I received the machinery in very poor condition from India. I opened it, fixed it, oiled it, and reassembled it,” he recalled. “I have worked late nights, in winters, in fog. But I also feel rewarded for my loyalty,” he added.

Given his aptitude and dedication Khaliq Shah was appointed the Maintenance Supervisor of the new shoe last facility. He now liaises with the various production supervisors at the plant and helps them in setting up the machines for production runs. He currently has one assistant but he wants to add more assistants when the facility starts producing more shoe-lasts.

Everyone who has worked with Khaliq Shah is impressed by his skill and passion. The Italian consultant who came to install the machinery was impressed by him, as were the Indian engineers from the firm which sold this equipment to Intra-Systek. His attention to detail makes him a valuable asset for the company. Most days he is seen running around the factory floor with much enthusiasm.

“He is a diamond in the rough, we didn’t know about his hidden talents until recently,” said Abid Hafeez, the CEO of Intra Systek about Khaliq Shah.

Life has also improved for Khaliq Shah’s family. “I have now bought my own house and no longer need to live in a rented house,” he said happily. “Three of my kids are in school while the eldest one is pursuing a diploma in mechanical work,” he said..

MDF, supported by the Australian Government, entered into a partnership with Intra-Systek to start domestic production of shoe-lasts—the foundation of any shoe—traditionally imported into the country from China, India and Italy. The local availability of this key component in the footwear industry will enable footwear manufacturers to cut response time on orders—securing and fulfilling more orders in the export market.

While 30 new jobs will be created at the Intra-Systek facility, hundreds of new jobs should be created at the footwear factories as they expand production.