Business, Finance & Economics

India's hair cutting magnate

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(Image by Flickr user factoryseashell (cc:by-sa))

This story was originally reported by PRI's The World. For more, listen to the audio above.

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India has experienced meteoric economic growth in recent years, and many predict that the economy won't slow down any time soon. The country's nearly 1.2 billion people represent a growing market, and an opportunity for celebrity hair stylist Jawed Habib. He told PRI's The World:

[If] even one percent in this country come to my salon once in his life, I'd be busy always; for next two or three hundred years.

Habib saw an opportunity, not just in the growing wealth in the country, but in the lack of competition in the hair cutting business. "I realized in this country hairdressing is not a very organized, it's not really organized," he said. "So what I did, I'm just trying to make the barber with some system into it."

He decided to open up a chain of hair salons, like Super Cuts for India. As he got started, he realized that there weren't enough trained barbers to serve his customers. So he began opening academies to train hair cutters for his salons. Today, the company operates more than 135 salons and 30 academies throughout the country.

Some day soon, Habib believes his business will grow into the McDonald's of salons. He told The World, "if you go to any salon, anywhere on this earth, you can feel this is a Jawed salon. It's like McDonald's." According to his Facebook page, Habib once worked in a McDonald's in London some 20 years ago. He wrote about the experience in a typical Facebook style:

Their system ws so organized n i ws always used to think that I will follow al this in my business provided thr is passion n discipline.People always believe in criticizing bt ignorance is the best policy Be focused fr d goal is d recipe fr success

To become the McDonald's of Indian hair salons, Habib decided to not to focus on the country's richest people. Instead, the salons cater to a growing class of people with just a little bit of extra money to spend. "So I thought, let’s do something for the masses, something for poor people," he told The World. His salons charge about $2 for a cut-- still out of reach for many of the country's poorest residents. But if India's economy continues to grow at its current pace, there may be many more visiting his salons.

PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston. More "The World."

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