From a daily wager extracting sand to a successful entrepreneur who yearns to complete his studies Farooq Ahmad Shah’s journey is inspiring. Safwat Zargar meets the youngster whose hard work helped him get out of poverty
A look at the Maawar stream passing through Shanoo Village of Batagund Handwara sends 27-year-old Farooq Ahmad Shah down the memory lanes. A memory, Shah says, that hurts him; but loves to share.
In 2011 Shah was just like any college student pursuing higher studies to become a government employee. After returning from the college, owing to his family’s tight financial condition, he would work as a labourer with sand-extractors on the banks of Maawar stream for an amount of 200-300 rupees, daily.
“It was really hard. What I earned would melt soon on the household expenses, same day,” Shah says, while recalling his “tough days”. A bachelor’s student of Arts at Government Degree College Handwara, Shah “wanted to have something of his own.” Digging sand under scorching sun with sweat dripping from Shah’s body would yield him two meals a day; but no savings.
“Savings are important,” he says, “they enable you to better your lives by investing in productive avenues.”
One day, a visit to a neighbour who served a high-position at the state government’s Self Employment department, advised Shah to visit Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) at Pampore. “When I visited EDI, I didn’t believe their schemes,” he says, chuckling. The visit proved a “blessing” for Shah, who after several interactions with the consultants and experts at EDI could sense that his callused hands can now turn his dream into a reality.
He opted for EDI’s seed capital scheme whereby a desiring entrepreneur on the basis of his educational qualification is given a capital amount to start a venture. Shah had many options, he chose poultry. For 28 days, he underwent a rigorous training about poultry farming; its techniques, methods, instructions and safety measures.
Shah had realized that this was his opportunity. He decided to rent a room in Srinagar for four weeks, so that he didn’t miss “even a single hour of the training.”
During training, with the help of EDI staff, Shah drafted a proposal of 8.5 lakh rupees for his own poultry farm. Twelve days after finishing the training, a phone call informed Shah that his proposal has been accepted.
“I was overwhelmed with joy. Even if I hadn’t built anything or earned anything, I thought myself as a success,” Shah recalls. EDI sanctioned three lakh rupees as seed capital in favour of Shah and acted as a guarantor for Shah at Jammu and Kashmir Bank for the remaining five lakh rupees at easy interest rates.
As soon as the money was credited to Shah’s bank account, he began searching for land where he could build his poultry farm. It was near the same Maawar stream where Shah had toiled hard few months back, he bought 1.5 kanals of dry land for 2,80,000 rupees.
A month later, in September 2011, Shah was on his way to Baramullah after the completion of construction of his 65x35 feet poultry farm, to buy his first hatch. It was 2000 chicks which he bought for 2,40,000 rupees.
“I was very nervous but I left it on Allah. Allah had given me an opportunity through EDI, I said Bismillah and left for a poultry dealer at Baramullah,” he says.