Srinagar, June 18: In 2006, RubeenaTabasum, from the Yarikalaan area of Chadoora in Budgam district took the flower business a challenge and named the small venture United Floriculture. Today she is an inspiring face of Kashmiri businesswoman.
She thought of starting a business when she got inspired by the radio program ‘Manzilein Aur Bhi Hain’ and it became a reason for her start-up.
“I got to know about an initiative by J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) and after some interview rounds, I got selected for a training program after which I started my venture named it a business of cut flowers,” she said.
Tabasum said soon after completion of the EDI program, she started with a greenhouse on 3 kanals of land owned by her husband and grew some carnations and lilies. “I then sold them in the flower mandi at Delhi and was surprised getting a positive response,” she said.
United Floritech is one of the leading Manufacturers of Rose Oil, Lavender Oil and more. Currently, she is cultivating lavender on 300 Kunals and rose on 100 Kunals with the production of lavender oil of 150 litres and 1000 litres of rose water besides kgs of rose oil.
Tabasum said initially there was no bank support as most financial institutions were not confident whether her plans will work, so she had to opt for a consumer loan.
Later she won J&K Bank’s Woman Entrepreneur Award in 2007 after which there was no looking back and it gave her more confidence.
“My business started to grow, I used to sell cut flowers in the Delhi flower market but with expansion, I add wholesale dealers in Jammu and locals as well,” she said.
She believes that the trend of cut flowers has increased in Kashmir in the last few years. “We supply cut flowers to hotels, airport authorities, offices and flower shops,” she said.
Many Kashmiri women like her have taken some kind of initiative despite limited resources and are excelling in their work. While the success stories of these entrepreneurs are often chronicled, their hardships and struggles are rarely touched upon.
From getting brickbats from banks to starting her business to winning J&K Bank’s Woman Entrepreneur Award, her initiative has become a source of employment for others. She currently employsaround 20 people.
She got married when she was in 12th grade. Later, she completed her high school at her in-laws' home passed her graduation and is pursuing MBA through IGNOU.
Later she took hundreds of kanals of land on lease at Bugroo Budgam for a new project for essential oils. The Technology Mission of the Floriculture Department provided initial support to this project.
“I intend to grow essential oil flowers through contract farming where I will provide free of cost planting material and technical help to marginalized farmers living in these areas,” she said.
After years of hard work, Tabasum now makes the essential oils including lavender oil, rose oil, rosemary oil, geranium oil, thyme and clary sage oils.
“The essential oils were branded as aroma pure and natural. These oils have a huge demand in domestic as well as international markets as it is used in the fragrance industry, edibles,” she said.
The success story of the entrepreneur in aromatic crops is encouraging to beginners.
“We have a team of highly experienced professionals, and their strong support makes us able to provide the utmost level of satisfaction to our clients. We have garnered a reputed position in this highly competitive industry,” she said.
Notably, Tabasum is also a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Kissan Advisory Board and a member of the extension council of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir.
This year, she received three awards including the Champion Farmer Award given by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, the emerging women entrepreneur award by the Ministry of MSME and MSE Forum and the innovative farmer award by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, commonly known as the Pusa Institute--India's national institute for agricultural research.
While talking about her struggle days, she said that it has been an uphill road for her.
“I come from a village, a small village where people stick to their roots and any change is always objectionable, especially for women,” Tabasum said.
Talking about unemployment in Kashmir she said the youngsters need to stop running after government jobs and start something of their own.
“There are so many untapped resources, so many avenues which can be utilized, that not only can they start their businesses with but can become job generators for others. I believe in empowering others while empowering yourself and that is what still drives me,” she said.