Srinagar, Mar 07: Women empowerment now is not a farce anymore, it is happening and women come up with their ideas and execute successfully. They proved their mettle in every field. Nowadays, they are more into entrepreneurship and are the success stories.
Rising Kashmir’s feature writer Saba Khan spoke to some of the entrepreneurs in Kashmir. Their stories will offer you great motivation and inspiration.
This International women’s day we present you stories of the 5 women entrepreneurs who are doing good.
Mehak Suhail is a Principal Architect at Mehak Suhail Architects.
She has done her schooling from Presentation convent, Srinagar Bachelors in Architecture from Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune.
“I started practising Architecture in 2019 and am learning new lessons every day. I have had the privilege to work on residential houses, office spaces, clinics, salons, retail stores, gyms, etc as a Design Lead.”
During her academics, she was always told that Women who study architecture end up teaching in architectural schools or take up jobs because practising might be too demanding.
“For me, Architecture is a manifestation of ideas and I love to see how my ideas come to life. That’s why I decided to take the road less taken.”
In Kashmir, she has worked on more than 70 projects since she came into this field. “I have made mistakes and learnt my lessons the hard way. That has made me tougher and wiser.”
Mehak feels that her business gives her a sense of accomplishment. As a designer, she has the liberty to mould a space into any shape. “I am striving to create a better user experience every day,” she said
Mehak says that the nature of her work is not monotonous and she gets to work on different types of spaces in different styles.
For those women who want to pursue their career as an entrepreneur, she said, “If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, the only way ahead is through, there are no shortcuts, no ladders. Performing isn’t enough, succeeding once isn’t enough, working hard once isn’t enough- Consistency is the key”
“I did not do anything to market my business, I just focussed on delivering excellence.”
Being an architect, I face the same challenges as a man would. Crisis on-site, deadlines, coordinating with vendors, lack of sleep, no or little no time for socialising. I never think of myself as a woman architect, I am an architect and I try to stay true to my job without feeling that being a woman is either an advantage or a disadvantage. Neither have I ever excused myself from a situation nor have I ever stepped back from a responsibility because I am a woman she further said,
Talking about her inspiration, Mehak said, “My inspiration is not tangible. The idea of being able to put your learnings into practice & being able to provide a better working & living environment to others is liberating and inspiring.”
Insha Muzaffar: Beauty Salon and Derma Aesthetic Skin Clinic
Hailing from Srinagar, Baghat, Insha is running a Salon with the name of RK studio and Derma Aesthetics clinic in which she provides advanced beauty treatments.
Despite thinking what people say she took a risk and started the first Derma Aesthetic Clinic of J&K.
Derma Aesthetic Clinic is the first in J&K in which she provides advanced beauty treatments like BOTOX, PRP, Rhinoplasty, plastic surgery, fillers, and hair transplant.
While talking to Insha about her dream she said that she wanted to become a doctor but due to some reasons, she couldn’t pursue it.
“I have done bachelor in tourism and am pursuing my Masters from IGNOU.”
On talking about her journey, she said, “In 2019, I opened R.K studio Beauty Salon and in 2021, I opened another venture with the name of Derma Aesthetic.”
She also said that when she started Derma Aesthetic, her parents didn't allow her. Even monetarily she was advised to not take loans by her parents.
Even other people didn’t give Insha any moral support. But rather than listening to others, she started it and took the risk. “I took a loan to buy the machinery because it was very costly to start this initiative.”
On asking about the team, she has in her clinic, she said, “All those who are at my clinic are well trained and well qualified in their fields, some are gold medallists and also they have done cosmetologist courses.”
What prompted Insha to start this start-up was the skin issues that women face.
Recalling her experience being a fresher she said that when she started R.K studio, she was only 21. Later when her parents saw her doing good, they too started to support her.
Insha has done a course in Cosmetology from ILAMED, Germany.
Insha while revealing the details of her successful business venture, she said that “providing the best environment, patience and good understanding” towards her clients is the ingredient of her success.
Insha’s message to the upcoming women entrepreneurs is that if you have to take the risk, don’t be scared, take the risk if you are giving your 100% and go ahead.
Insha at her clinic provides free services to acid victims, cancer patients and economically weaker ones.
Mariya Reshi is another women entrepreneur, from the Soura area of Srinagar and is running a business in which she deals with women related things like Phiran’s, shawls, stoles, bags, hosiery, cosmetics and many other things.
She has done bachelor's in technology (B.TECH) from Islamic University and then B.ED from Kashmir University.
In 2020, she started her venture as a women entrepreneur and presently is running her outlet at HMT, Srinagar.
She, from her childhood, had an urge to be an independent woman and to do something of her own. This urge led her to work on an idea and she is now doing it successfully.
Mariya said, “I wish I had started early but none the less God has good plans. The thing I enjoyed most about starting my business is being socially active.”
Advising the women who want to be entrepreneurs, Mariya said that working hard, being honest, consistent and having faith is the key.
“I received good response from the customers and the feedback is good and this thing made me happy” she added,
Hailing from Nanil village of district Anantnag, Farida belongs to an economically weaker family. She runs the bee-keeping business in her village.
Talking to Farida, about her entrepreneurship choice, she said that she wants to provide all the good for my family and that urge made her a to run the business.
Farida said that her husband was the only source of income who is a private school teacher and cannot fulfil the daily expenses of the family.
“I connected with the NRLM programme Scheme “UMEED” and got financial assistance of 30000 rupees to start my business in 2019.”
To market her product, her husband's friend came to help who is already running the bee-keeping business.
Farida set up the business with just 20 colonies and with time, she increased the count to 40 and now to 60 which is providing her with an adequate quantity of honey to sell locally as well as to outside states.
“I have customers from other states as well who are well satisfied with the quality.” Farida now earns around 20000 per month.
Pertinent to mention here, the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), a poverty alleviation project implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India is focusing on promoting self-employment and organization of rural people, especially the poor. The basic idea behind this program is to organize the poor into Self Help Groups (SHGs) and make them capable of self-employment.
In Jammu and Kashmir, this programme is being operated as the Jammu-Kashmir State Rural livelihood Mission (JKSRLM).
“The message I would like to give to the poor rural women who are dependent on others and those who want to do something in their respective fields is to come forward and join JKRLM and it will change your fortunes.”
Believe in yourself and nothing is impossible, ways are always there when you come from your comfort zones, she further added.
21-year-old, Nahida Akhtar hailing from Mandi village of district Poonch, runs a Car Washing Centre in her village with the name of Wajahat Makhdhoomi and Brothers.
Nahida said we also provide repair and spare parts in one place.
In 2017, Nahida with the help of NRLM started working as an entrepreneur.
While talking about which thing inspired you to develop your idea to start a business of car washing and spare parts, she said that when she was affiliated with this group, the NRLM team counsel her to do something.
In the beginning, she had only one 1 worker working, now today she has 4 workers and pays them around 5000 to 6000 per month she earns around 40000 per month.
To her luck, she finds the parents very supportive and is helping her in her business. “I am very thankful to my parents who supported me during my journey and also NRLM who made me believe that I can achieve my path.”
Bag manufacturing, dairy products and Dumper
Koushali hails from the Udhampur district. “I am a housewife and I was not aware that women can do many things I only know about house chores work.” But in 2013 when some people came from Hyderabad and they told her about “NRLM” Mission scheme “Umeed,” she became a part of the group.
Initially, she received 70000 rupees from the scheme Umeed and she ran a business of dairy products. Once the profits staring pouring in of around 70000 rupees per month, it helped her a lot and brought confidence in her.
She did not stop there but tried her entrepreneur skills in the Cutting, Tailoring & bag manufacturing unit and now has a group of 10 members who are working there.
She then took the loans and bought a dumper. She is now earning 50000 per month. “I want more women to come and take advantage of this scheme Umeed.”
Talking about the challenges she faced being a woman, she said, “I couldn’t visit alone initially to make my stuff for selling.”
But her motivation and patience made her go through.