Mushtaq Khan: Banker and Public Servant

Mushtaq, the banker, philosopher, and thinker .

By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

Mushtaq Khan is one of the pioneers of banking in Guyana. But his repertoire extends to other areas such as education, history, art, and that most famous of games: cricket. Mushtaq was born in Charlestown, in Georgetown, Guyana.

Mushtaq’s mother was Zaitun and his dad was Kamrool Khan. Mushtaq is the eldest of three children. After primary school, he articulated to Central High School where he did exceptionally well. In 1964, he won a scholarship to Queens College. Mushtaq played cricket at Central High School where he became captain of the senior team. He was involved in the Literary and Debating Society and he also wrote for the school’s newspaper.

While at Central High, Rudy Luck, Laurence Mann, Perry Mars, Joel Benjamin, Cammie Ramsaroop, Dr. Omawale, and others, played a big role in shaping Mushtaq’s personality. At Queens College, he was influenced by Ivy Loncke, and Pryor Jonas. A tragedy struck Mushtaq’s family on the eve of the Advanced Level exams in 1966. His dad died suddenly.

Mushtaq Khan as General Manager of the Guyana National Cooperative Bank.

This blow would be a setback to many students, but Mushtaq used it as a learning opportunity. He took his exams and waited for the results. As head of the household, he had a tremendous responsibility to hold the family together. He decided to look for a job and was advised to go to McKenzie, as his chances there might be better.

Mushtaq says, ‘I made a big decision. I left Georgetown and went to McKenzie. At that time, the situation was unpredictable, due to the racial disturbances, but I was not scared. I got along well with the various cultures in Guyana, and this prepared me for McKenzie. Eventually, I was able to get a teaching job, for one term.’ Mushtaq passed his exams with flying colors. He applied for a job with the Royal Bank of Canada and began his banking career as a junior clerk. Guyana was in a period of transition. The banking system was operated from overseas. The objective was to maximize profits. Mushtaq worked for four years with the Royal Bank. Guyana became an independent country and set about to reform the banking sector.

It was decided to found a local Bank that would better serve the needs of Guyanese. This led to the establishment of the Guyana National Cooperative Bank (GNCB). Mushtaq joined the staff of the GNCB in 1970. A year later, he got married to Bibi Khan, who was a distinguished nurse. The marriage has produced three children, Pervez, Imtiez, and Anzalee.

Mushtaq points out that, for first time, members of the Board of Directors of a commercial bank were Guyanese. The management was also Guyanese and there was interaction between the classes. Branches were set up in various parts of the country that made lending easier, through the introduction of character loans. These loans, focused on the ability of the person to repay.

Mushtaq (second from left) with his wife Bibi and their children Anzalee, Pervez and Imtiez.

Mushtaq moved rapidly in the banking system in Guyana. He became the regional manager of the New Amsterdam branch, and also the Essequibo branch, always putting the needs of the customer first. Mushtaq went on a scholarship to the University of Guyana, in 1976, to read for a degree in Management. He was elected President of the Student Society, in the following year, and was awarded the Board of Governor’s Medal, on graduation. In 1978, he led the Guyana student delegation to the Eleventh World Youth Festival, in Cuba, which was a tremendous experience.

In 1997, there were more laurels. Mushtaq was awarded a scholarship to do a Master’s Degree in Banking and Finance, in Milan, Italy. He was impressed with the diversity of the attendees, that reminded him of Guyana. Mushtaq found the course fascinating, as well as the sights of Italy.

Mushtaq spent a total of twenty-six years at GNCB and helped to revolutionize banking in Guyana. He was appointed General Manager of GNCB in 1992 and in 1994 he was elected as Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Indigenous Banks. He is proud that he helped to bring the banking system closer to the people. In 1994, Mushtaq joined his family in New York and was involved in the world of finance as a compliance officer. He is proud of his family. His wife Bibi has blazed the trail in nursing, while the children are professionally qualified, and are doing well. As Mushtaq reflects, there are a number of persons that have left their imprint on him. Apart from his parents, and his family, there is Rudy Luck that opened the doors of freedom of thought. Stephen Backer was an innovative colleague in the Bank, and Oscar Clarke reinforced the principles of tolerance.

Mushtaq advises the youths to pursue their education seriously, and to be respectful to their parents, and teachers. Education, he says, takes you into the university of reality, and you have to apply it to life. His hobby is cricket, and philosophy, and he is currently reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Jailed for Freedom.’ Mushtaq is well-read and well-spoken. He has led a wonderfully exemplary life that is filled with landmark achievements. He has documented his life story in a book ‘Vistas of My Memories.’ We wish Mushtaq and his family all the best in the future.