After earning incentives and prized posts in private sector, a young professional from South Kashmir decided to invest his time and efforts to set up his venture. By 2010 as lady luck smiled at him, Bricks and Tiles manufacturing unit of the young man was up and running, reports Suhail A Shah
Earning incentives at a company, known for it, is a feat. However, 31-year-old Mudassir Shafi Dar wasn’t satisfied with accomplishing the feat almost every month.
Mudassir wanted to invest his energies into something he could call his own and that’s exactly what he did. The stairway towards his goals was the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) of Kashmir.
He runs a cement hollow block manufacturing unit at Wanpoh area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
After graduating from Government Degree College (GDC) Islamabad in 2005, Mudassir did some odd jobs for a bit before getting a decent position at a telecommunication company.
“I did exceptionally well at the company,” he said. “The company has a reputation of being very tough on incentives essentially meaning that the monthly targets are tougher. But I did manage to walk away with some incentives every month.”
The performance at the telecommunication company was a major boost to Mudassir’s career and soon he was sitting pretty at a mobile handset making company and was earning well.
“Here as well, my performance won me accolades but with each passing day, I was growing dissatisfied with the work I did. The reason was, I kept thinking, what wonders I could do with a venture of my own where I could put my energies and abilities to a greater use for myself,” he said.
Finally taking a call Mudassir left his job at the private company and started to seriously ponder over opportunities of entrepreneurship in the valley.
Coming from a lower middle-class family of Foodah village of Mirbazar, Mudassir did not have the much-needed exposure to venture into the field of entrepreneurship. Some of his friends recommended the EDI and Mudassir applied in 2010.
It took about two years with the registrations, training and other formalities and finally in 2012, Mudassir’s Bricks and Tiles manufacturing unit was up and running.
EDI provided Mudassir Rs 15 lakh to set up the unit with a seed capital of Rs 3 lakh.
Starting September 2012, Mudassir’s unit MS Enterprises produced about 10,000 cement hollow blocks a month.
“A hollow block back then cost around Rs 26 making my monthly turnover a decent Rs 260,000 on an average,” he said.
When Mudassir started his unit there was one more hollow block manufacturing unit in the area; however during the last three years the number of such units in a 2 km radius has swelled up to 15.
“EDI stopped funding these brick manufacturing units however the mushrooming was already substantial enough,” he said.
Interestingly despite mushrooming of such units the work has kept growing for Mudassir.
From 10,000 bricks a month, Mudassir’s orders kept swelling and as of now, he manufactures between 25,000 and 30,000 bricks a month.
Even with a price drop of two rupees per brick since Mudassir started working, his monthly turnover has reached a commendable Rs 720,000.
Mudassir’s younger brother Muzaffar Shafi has also joined him in the venture. The brothers are now thinking of expanding it.
Besides his brother and himself, Mudassir has a workforce of about 8 people, all of them Kashmiris. “I believe I owe something to the society as well and instead of getting the workforce from outside I have hired locals and I train them,” he said. “I believe Kashmiris are good at everything and the people who work for me prove me right.”
There, however, are some areas of worry for Mudassir like the ever-increasing cost of raw material.
“The competition is cutthroat and at such a time even a slight increase in the raw material can bear a substantial impact at the market rates,” Mudassir said. “The most expensive item in the list of raw materials, needed to manufacture the blocks, is cement.”
Besides labourers are getting expensive with each passing day. The devastation caused by recent floods has left hundreds of structures damaged across Kashmir and the rebuilding process is a mammoth one, requiring more manpower than ever. “If we don’t pay them well they will move elsewhere. Labourers have never been in such demand in the valley,” he said.
Barring a few hiccups, Mudassir seems to be a satisfied man with whatever he is doing with plans of expanding his venture. “I make a net profit of around Rs 50,000 per month. I’m glad I made a choice for it would have taken me more than 15 years to reach such a salary at a private company,” Mudassir said, adding that the best part of the whole thing is that it’s just the beginning.