A collaborative research project between New York University Abu Dhabi and Tharawat Family Business Forum



Information last updated on 20 October 2023



Family Name:


Founder’s Name:

Ahmed Dawood

Earliest Documented Business Name:


Founding Year:


Founding Location:

Karachi, Pakistan


Current Operating Status:


Family Business Name:


Headquarters Location:

Karachi, Pakistan.[1]

Key Industries:

Cotton, textiles, paper, consumer goods, oil, logistics, insurance, jute, chemicals, motorbikes, home appliances, electronics and fertilizers industries[2]

Number of Employees:


About the Founder


Ahmed Dawood, was born in Bantva, British India, on March 15, 1905. He hailed from a family of Memons, known for their generational wealth; his father, Yaqoob, was a trader, and his maternal grandfather, Abdul Ghani Haji Noor Muhammad, ran a yarn mill. Ahmed received only three years of formal education, not unusual at the time, after which he moved in with his grandfather, where he learned how to work with cotton, yarn, and grass. Two years later, he moved to Madras for more formal employment. When Ahmed was around 15 years old, his father passed away.[4]


Soon after, Ahmed moved to Bombay, where he started his own business. Under his grandfather’s supervision, he opened his own shop in Tamba Kanta Market.[5] By the age of 19, he wed Ayesha Bai in an arranged marriage, and the couple had three children: Aziz Dawood, Yousuf Dawood, and Khadija. After Ayesha Bai died around 1940, Ahmed entered into another arranged marriage, with Mariam Bai. Together, they had two children: Hussain Dawood (born September 20, 1943) and Amina Bai.[6]

Early Years


As Pakistan emerged as a new state in 1947, it was navigating nascent economic structures. The father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, invited Ahmed Dawood and a couple of other families involved in business to migrate to the country and set up industries.[7] What would eventually become Dawood Group was thus established in Pakistan in 1948. The company launched the Dawood Cotton Mills two years later and Burewala Textile Mills in 1954.[8]

Growth Phase


During the 1960s, growth continued steadily, as the group established multiple subsidiaries, including Lawrencepur Woolen and Textiles, Dawood Petroleum, Dawood Jute Mills, Dawood Shipping Company, Dilon, Karnaphuli Paper, and Karnaphuli Rayon & Chemicals. In 1961, the Dawood Foundation was set up as a family charitable trust, and the Dawood College of Engineering and Technology opened its doors the following year. In a major achievement, the group secured a joint venture with Hercules Chemicals Inc. of the US, the first private sector venture in Pakistan to be co-signed by the World Bank.[9]


A major turning point came in 1971 when East and West Pakistan split into Bangladesh and Pakistan, leading to the group’s loss of the paper mills it had acquired in East Pakistan just one year earlier. Along with the mills, the group lost about 60 percent of the group’s total business. Still more challenges arose when the president of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, nationalized most industries in 1974, with the purported aim of distributing the country’s wealth more equally.[10] This resulted in the group’s loss of Dawood Petroleums. Further tightening his financial grip, Bhutto demanded that the richest families of Pakistan bring all their money to the country. When Ahmed Dawood failed to comply, he was placed under house arrest.[11]


The group began to rebound as the political situation changed and major industries were reprivatized in 1988.[12] A decade later, in 1997, the group began equity investments in Engro. Following Ahmed Dawood’s death in 2002, his son Hussain Dawood was elected chairman of Dawood Hercules Chemicals. Over the next four years, the group acquired a brokerage firm, Elixir Securities, and stakes in Inbox Business Technologies and Asahi Class Company. In the following years, the group moved into chlor-alkali processing and established new subsidiaries such as Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company and Engro Fertilizers. In 2012, it diversified into renewable energy through Dawood Lawrencepur. Over the past decade, the group has been deeply involved with investment, energy, education, and philanthropy.[13]



Today, based in Karachi but operating all over Pakistan, Dawood Group is an industrial giant with business lines ranging from textiles and other consumer goods to fertilizers and electronics, employing over 5,000 people. During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the Dawood Foundation and Engro Foundation donated 1 billion PKR to the cause.[14]


Both the second and third generations are involved in the running of the business. Hussain Dawood, Ahmed Dawood’s son, has headed the group since 2002. After a career spanning 50 years in the group, he currently serves as chair of Dawood Hercules Corporation Limited, Engro Corporation, Karachi School for Business and Leadership, and the Dawood Foundation. From the third generation, Sabrina Dawood serves as chair of the Hussain Dawood Pledge, vice chair of the Dawood Foundation, and a director on the boards of the Engro Corporation, Engro Foundation, Dawood Hercules Corporation Limited, Dawood Lawrencepur Limited, and Cyan Limited.[15] Shehzada Dawood was also actively involved in the group until the Titan submersible implosion in June 2023, which took his life and that of his son.



Photo Credit: Ahmed Dawood. Image credit: The Dawood Foundation. Source: Flickr


[1] “THE DAWOOD GROUP (Karachi, Pakistan) – Contact Phone, Address.” Pakistan Business Directory, https://www.businesslist.pk/company/187062/the-dawood-group. Accessed 25 July 2023.

[2] Sehgal, Ikram. “Family business in Pakistan The ghost of Mahbub-ul-Haq | By Ikram Sehgal.” Pakistan Observer, 9 September 2022, https://pakobserver.net/family-business-in-pakistan-the-ghost-of-mahbub-ul-haq-by-ikram-sehgal/. Accessed 25 July 2023.

[3] LinkedIn, Zoominfo and 6sense.

[4] For Dawood’s birth date see Karim, Amin H. “Seth Ahmed Dawood.” Good Old Karachi, 1 June 2019, https://goodoldkarachi.com/2019/06/01/seth-ahmed-dawood/. Accessed 25 July 2023.

See Zia, Afiya S., and Arifa Noor. “Seth Ahmad Dawood passes away – Newspaper – DAWN.COM.” Dawn, 3 January 2002, https://www.dawn.com/news/13222. Accessed 25 July 2023.

See Batliwala, Usman Umar. احمد داؤد – ایک پیکرِ اوصاف (Ahmad Dawood – a figure of merit). Karachi, Faran Publications, 1995.

[5] Batliwala, Usman Umar. احمد داؤد – ایک پیکرِ اوصاف (Ahmad Dawood – a figure of merit).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Zia, Afiya S., and Arifa Noor. “Seth Ahmad Dawood passes away – Newspaper – DAWN.COM.” Dawn.

[8] “Our Journey.” Dawood Investments, https://dawoodinvestments.com/#journey. Accessed 25 July 2023.

[9] Ibid.

[10] For Pakistan’s split see G, Alex. “Dynamics of Pakistan’s Disintegration: The Case of East Pakistan 1947-1971.” JSTOR, 30 August 2022, https://www.jstor.org/stable/45072741. Accessed 25 July 2023.

See Alam, Kazim. “Bhutto’s economic policies were disastrous for Pakistan.” The Express Tribune, 30 June 2016, https://tribune.com.pk/article/35970/bhuttos-economic-policies-were-disastrous-for-pakistan. Accessed 25 July 2023.

See “A Critical Assessment of Z.A Bhutto’s Policies (1973–1977).” Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, https://hrmars.com/papers_submitted/3354/A_CRITICAL_ASSESSMENT_OF_Z._A_._BHUTTO%E2%80%99S_POLICIES_(1973%E2%80%931977)_.pdf. Accessed 25 July 2023.

[11] Eriksson, Petra. “2 of the Richest Men In Pakistan Are Put Under House Arrest (Published 1972).” The New York Times, 2 January 1972, https://www.nytimes.com/1972/01/02/archives/2-of-the-richest-men-in-pakistan-are-put-under-house-arrest.html. Accessed 25 July 2023.

[12] Farazmand, Ali, editor. Public Enterprise Management: International Case Studies. Bloomsbury Academic, 1996. Accessed 25 July 2023.

[13] “Our Journey.” Dawood Investments.

[14] Ibid.

[15] “About – Dawood Investments.” Dawood Investments, https://dawoodinvestments.com/about/. Accessed 25 July 2023.

“Sabrina Dawood – engro corporation.” Engro Corporation, https://www.engro.com/leadership/sabrina-dawood/. Accessed 25 July 2023.

To cite this article please use:

“Dawood” Family Business Histories Research Project, New York University Abu Dhabi and Tharawat Family Business Forum, 29 Jan. 2024, familybusinesshistories.org/spotlights/dawood