Date:25/06/2011 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mp/2011/06/25/stories/2011062550430400.htm
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Finger on the pulse

Ameera Shah, voted ‘The Young Entrepreneur of the Year', on the diagnostic field in the country



RIGHT PRESCRIPTION Ameera Shah

Lanky, a stern visage with a hint of smile exuding a tinge of equanimity that reaches out to the onlookers not only through words but even through eyes, and a multi-crore business empire. It looks like a description of a protagonist from any of Ayn Rand's fictitious books. Young, ambitious, enterprising and dynamic — that's how you'd describe Ameera Shah, who's just been voted ‘The Young Entrepreneur of the Year'. Ameera is also the co-chair, Health Committee, FICCI, and has recently been chosen Secretary of Indian Association of Pathology Labs (IAPL), which is an umbrella organisation advocating standardisation and achieving uniformity in the diagnostic field in India.

So does achieving uniformity mean shunting out the smaller players in the market, the unorganised sector to be more specific, which incidentally make up around 60 per cent of the Indian market?

“Oh, definitely not!” exclaims Ameera. “We are far from that stage where three to four big players will make up the entire market. But once health insurance starts coming into the fray, obviously they don't want to deal with 100,000 small labs, and would rather want only some established names where that insurance can materialise. And, definitely, we are moving towards a stage where health insurance would became a reality in India, like it has in the U.S.,” asserts Ameera cautiously. Standardisation does not mean shunting out other smaller players. “It just means either perform or perish,” she adds.

It is to be seen whether Ameera can script another marvel by forcing the government to agree on her association's demands — the first one being her scripting the turnaround story of her company. When she took over the reins of her organisation Metropolis, it had only one lab and was amongst the many small-scale players in the field. After Ameera took over, it grew in leaps and bounds, with 65 laboratories in different parts of the country, and even establishing itself in South Africa, the SAARC region and U.A.E. Every businessman would wonder how she managed this.

“Well, it all began in 2003. We had only one lab in Mumbai. We went to Lister, who had 200 to 300 patients walking in everyday but had no collection centres. We negotiated with them and took them on board. Gradually, we started acquiring other regional players as well, and now till 2010, we have had 14 partnerships. And the profits started soaring too. In 2003, our annual turnover was around Rs.30 lakh. Now our turnover is 25 crore rupees,” says Amera.

On the uneven distribution density of healthcare labs, with a majority of them concentrated in the southern and western parts of the country, with the North-East suffering due to a scarcity of these disease-detecting labs, Ameera admits that there is a shortage. “But the blame squarely lies with the government. We can set up labs and collection centres, but who will convince trained personnel to work in these far-flung areas? It has to be the government,” Ameera is quick to respond to her own question.

D.M.

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