A Steady Partnership

Two childhood friends quit their respective jobs to try their luck in advertising. Faisal Shabir Bhat profiles their journey so far

Flex Printing Machine

In late 2012 two friends Peerzada Burhan Bashir and Rafiq Ahmad Manda decided to quit their professions and start a joint business venture. After going through the pros and cons, and deliberations and planning, finally their dream project took off in March 2013 in the shape of Global Advertising Agency.

Both Burhan and Rafiq belong to Veshu Wanigam village of Islamabad district. Burhan’s family shifted to Srinagar in 1989. He completed his education from Srinagar obtaining a Masters degree in commerce from Kashmir University in 2003. After his education he joined his family business of telecom distribution. Rafiq on the other hand completed his diploma in automobile engineering from Kashmir Government Polytechnic, Srinagar and was working as a marketing executive with a telecom company.

The childhood friends were in constant touch with each other and would occasionally meet. During the 2008 agitation when Kashmir valley was virtually shut Burhan’s family business suffered heavy losses. “The turmoil (2008-10) proved to be very bad for my business and it incurred heavy losses. I was thinking to move outside India for a job says,” Burhan. In late 2011 both friends, during a casual chat, discussed an idea of starting an advertising firm as a joint business venture.

“I was in telecom distribution business and Rafiq was doing a marketing job for a telecom company which is mainly involved with advertising, hence we both had a fair idea of advertising business,” says Burhan.  A major constraint in starting an advertising agency of their own was the lack of enough finances on their part. “To start a good business one needs to have enough capital and we both lacked the same,” says Rafiq.  In 2012 they came in contact with the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development institute (EDI) and discussed their business idea there. After receiving the mandatory training for entrepreneurs at the institute they received an amount of 8 lakh rupees under the Seed Capital Fund (SCF) scheme. The initial project cost for their venture was about 26 lakhs and they managed the rest of the money through their own pocket and rest from the finances of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank. The two friends eventually started their business unit Global Advertising in March 2013 at Rambagh Srinagar.

The advertising agency is involved in a variety of activities ranging from designing Acrylic boards, Flex printing, hoardings for different shops and business holdings. The agency has gained contracts with prominent brands like Samsung, Havells India and Lava Mobiles for their advertisement promotions through hoardings and banners in the local market.

The advertising firm has to first approach a particular company for enlisting it as its vendor. Once the firm is registered with the company it gets the license to advertise its goods and services in a particular market. “Our agency provides prompt service at low costs for advertising campaigns of premier multinational companies like Samsung in a local market like Srinagar,” explains Burhan.

Besides advertising promotions for premier companies the agency also deals with outdoor and indoor branding of shops and local business outlets. The advertising firm employs four persons at present. It has also a workshop at Alouchi Bagh, Srinagar, where around 10 persons work on need basis.  The advertising firm has managed to do a decent business since its inception managing a turnover of around Rupees 30 lakh.  The entrepreneur friends believe that Kashmir is an emerging market for advertising business and it is very difficult to find good clients for their agency. “There aren’t enough business houses in Kashmir and thus we don’t get enough contracts from local companies for advertising promotions,” says Rafiq. The advertising agency is mostly dependent on outside companies for its business who advertise their services in the local market through hoardings and banners.

The friends are however hopeful that in the years to come Kashmir will emerge as a good destination for advertising business.

“The two and a half decades of conflict has badly affected the business atmosphere in Kashmir and as a result there has been a minimal growth of industries. However things are improving now. Lately some good business houses have emerged in Kashmir and this is a good sign for advertisers,” says Burhan.

The friends are confident that in the coming years they will be able to expand their business in a substantial way and will emerge as key players in advertising business in Kashmir. “It is very easy to start a venture but the key thing is to survive and grow as a business enterprise,” Burhan adds.

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