From a door to door salesman selling Kashmiri handicrafts in West Bengal to a self made businessman with multi-crore turnover, Fayaz Ahmad’s story is inspiring. Riyaz Ul Khaliq and Saima Rashid narrate his rags to riches journey
“Faith has given me what I am today,” this is how young and dynamic Fayaz Ahmad describes his success.
Sitting in his modest office at posh Zero Bridge, Fayaz welcomes his guests and customers with smiling face.
Completing his matriculation way back in 2000, financial hiccups and domestic problems back home forced him to look for some work.
Studying at a local Islamic school from his native village Soibugh, Fayaz has been an obedient and caring son.
“Problems were galore,” he says, but satisfied for what he is today.
Hailing from central Kashmir’s Budgam district, Fayaz had an insight into handicrafts. As his contemporaries would move outside Kashmir for outsourcing of Shawls and alike, Fayaz too wanted to help his family.
“I went to West Bengal in winters for marketing of Shawls and other handicrafts items,” while giving insight into his past, Fayaz informs as he arranges tea for his guests.
The trip to Bengal was going to change his life forever. Fayaz, who had no formal training in marketing, and who had never been outside Kashmir till then, came across many challenges. With meagre resources in hand, it wasn’t all rosy for Fayaz. But, as it is said: providence is all! Same happened with him.
“Roaming and wandering in streets of Bengal for want of customer and livelihood pinched deep inside my heart and since then, I made it my goal to help myself grow both financially and humanly,” he asserts.
While he was earning miles away for his little family that included his ailing mother, Fayaz’s tryst with his studies did not end at matriculation. “I wanted to study further but couldn’t. However, when I was in Bengal, I was studying, partly, and completed my 12th in 2003.”
In 2004, Fayaz finally came back and left his studies completely. “Problems were surging. I had no way but to work. And every menial work meant a lot for me,” Fayaz says while suggesting his colleagues to move fast than time.
Come 2005, his second ladder to success was waiting for him. He joined a franchise of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) as a marketing executive housing its office in city outskirts at Pantha Chowk. “I still remember my first salary. It was rupees 2500,” he says.
At BPCL, he marketed horticulture and motor lubricants. Slowly, he was gaining ground in the field though his West Bengal stint was all his resume´ had.
“My employee reposed faith in me because of my hard work, dedication and honesty. But it is all due to the grace of Almighty Allah that my employer entrusted me with big things,” Fayaz says while exclaiming thanks to God!
As days passed, his know-how of the trade grew, but in 2006 his ailing mother bid him adieu. “This is the biggest shock of my life,” Fayaz silently stops. Moist fills his eyes and a pin drop silence follows. “But the courage and advice my mother always blessed me with helped me emotionally as well as physically.”
After his mother’s death, someone needed to look after his home. But it took three years and in 2009 he got married. The year came with huge bunch of success for him.
“I applied for distribution of lubricants for Budgam district and I succeeded because of my profile,” he happily explains.
Fayaz would take leave from his employer for two-three months to look after his private venture.
“For my private venture I used to work during horticulture season only. For rest of the year I would join my employer back,” he says.
In 2004, Fayaz bought a second hand scooter to help him do his work faster. But as he achieved success at every step of his life, he bought a car in 2009 that worked as his office, shop, go-down and everything he needed. “I didn’t sleep for days together when I bought scooter as I had very meagre resources and to sustain I had to work hard,” Fayaz recalls.
So, in a way, 2009 proved to be his successful year. A good wife, distribution for a district, a car and then he didn’t see back. “To be frank enough, I haven’t spent sufficient time with my wife since I got distribution for Budgam in 2009.”
Fayaz then started employing people. He arranged some shops in his native village on rent. “While my work showed positive results, things started changing and I went on engaging more human resource,” Fayaz says.
With changing business dealings, the account of Fayaz started bulging. He then started paying people. His hard work started paying off. “It was surprising that within no time I was talking of turnover and huge amounts,” his smile expresses it all.
Come 2012, Fayaz bid adieu to his employer with all gratitude. “He and the management of the BPCL franchise played a crucial role in my growth.”
Fayaz’s Bengal exposure came to his help. He went to India’s North Western state of Gujarat. Here he talked to ACTION (KD kitchenware Action private limited) and he was assigned South Kashmir’s distribution.
“I introduced the products of Action in Kashmir and soon I was given full Kashmir region and then there was no looking back. Today, I supply these products to Ladakh region as well and God willing, we will be supplying to Jammu in next few months,” Fayaz maintained.
He runs his business through IMPERIAL (Marketing and sales authorized stockiest for Kashmir valley and Ladakh region) head quartered at Old Zero bridge near Radio Kashmir in Srinagar.
Fayaz is a busy man now. He has a dozen employees who take care of his business. Besides he has to keep a tab of distributors across Kashmir and Ladakh regions. The annual turnover of Fayaz’s venture that started as a way to survive now runs into a couple of crores.
In his office, against his laptop hangs a fibre board suggesting his visitors the rules of a successful life. Indeed, the rules have been followed by him!