Desert Apples

They are only four people who operated from a small office outside Leh’s airport. With an active support system within the organisation and the local administration, the EDI has set up 366 units in Ladakh, reports S Khurshid-ul-Islam

Sonam Angmo, Stanzin Minglak

Chinese and Indian armies resorting to stone pelting in a remote belt is rarely known to anybody in Leh. It is, in fact, bigger news in Srinagar than in Leh, where people are busy hosting and serving thousands of tourists that 16 flights bring in daily.

Hotels apart, the massive tourist rush has given a boost to business and this sector is being driven mainly by the J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI). Handicrafts, travel, fruits, vegetables and all the new initiatives, EDI is the main promoter. Its regional office is managed by four staffers-

Dorjay Wangchuk, Jigmet Skitzon, Gulzar Ali and Kunzes Dolma – and they work over time. They function within the targets set for them and the appetite the market exhibits. They have to make a huge balance.

EDI’s work in the region explains its status and standing. When the Leh’s Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) offers the JKEDI only three kanals of land for creating its regional centre, the Deputy Commissioner Prasana Ramaswamy intervenes: “I strongly recommend this case as JKEDI is doing a superb job of training  and financing entrepreneurs. The Manger JKEDI is certain of getting the funds for Regional Center for construction of the regional center. It will definitely do a lot of good to Leh” It gets eight kanals of land finally.

Dr Chultim Dorjay

“It was difficult to convince the politicians and administrators but probably for the work, the institute has done in Ladakh that no one could afford to say us no” Dorjay Wangchuk, the highly enthusiastic executive Manager EDI, said. ““Now I am doing chowkadari of the land as some people had grabbed it that too in the name of religion and refugees which were a difficult proportion, but anyway land is now ours.”

While big money is being invested in the region, all the major small jobs are to the credit of EDI. Operating from a small office in the Industries Complex, EDI has created a single window clearance place for new entrepreneurs. The four member team manages almost everything for the new entrepreneurs.


Apart from implementing the schemes that are being framed in JKEDI’s Pampore Headquarters, its Leh office has slightly more in its basket. It is supporting implementation of the ambitious Loom project. So far, it has been able to involve 150 women from eight villages. Working in a cooperative pattern, the women make handmade pashmina and wool products. The district administration that has given them prime land is helping them market these products as well.

When EDI officials move around in Leh markets, they get literally over busied by responding to the salutations because they have hand-held many people doing good business now. They have a number of success stories to their credit because most of their enterprises are directly linked to a stable tour market.

DechenYangdol a graduate lady established Chenz Décor in 2015 with Rs 12 lakh help that she got under seed capital scheme. She started with a shop on the first floor of a new shopping complex and has now acquired 2016 sq feet space on a yearly rental of Rs 3.50 lakh. Her daily sales are around Rs 10 thousand.

Watching her do better business, the J&K Bank has already extended her CC limit from Rs 6.15 lakhs to Rs 15 lakhs. Yangdol is happy. She gets Rajasthani furniture and it sells like hot cakes.

Motup Namygal is Nubra resident who migrated to Leh after his twelfth class. In Leh’s main market, he runs Digital Printing House, with state of art machinery. Again, he invested Rs 15 lakh, part of which came under one EDI scheme as free money. Within three years of its establishment, his shop is Leh’s No 1 address for digital printing. Managed by three employees, his daily sales are Rs 12,000.

Just opposite the Sonoum Narbu District Hospital is Modern Diagnostic Center. It is the new address for all the major diagnostic tests. It is being run by a doctor couple: Chultim Dorjay and Maneesha Badwal. A gold medalist and former Senior Resident at Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi. Dr Badwal joined her husband after quitting her job with National Rural Health Mission. Their centre in Anjuman Complex is equipped with the latest IT support. His next plan is to get an MRI machine which could be first in Ladakh region.

Lena Ladakh Pashmina, supported by the EDI, is a joint venture between Sonam Angmo, a 28-year-old food technologist, and Stanzin Minglak, an Environmental Sciences post graduate. With an investment of Rs 27 lakhs, they employed seventy women from Zanskar (Kargil) in winters for spinning. Presently eight weavers stand employed for weaving and finishing purposes. The duo is ensuring that the products they dish out are literally handicrafts, hand-made, hand spun, hand woven and naturally dyed. The unit is already an export oriented unit as their products have gone to Australia, Holand, and Thailand.

“We have stories of success and struggle and we are shocked by the people when they make choices which normally they should not make,” an EDI official said. “But they plan better and invest accordingly.”

Kunzes Dolma, Gulzar Ali, Dorjay Wangchuk and Jigmet Skitzon.

Stazin Namgiyal is the son of a shop keeper who did not join Jet Airways where he was offered a job, instead, he set up a health club and gym where the Leh’s moneyed youngsters spend their early mornings and evenings to keep themselves fit. “My son gets up from bed at 4.30 am and he reports back 10.30 pm,” the Namgiyal Sr said. “He is trying hard to establish his business.”

“We have 366 functional units which the EDI supported under various schemes,” Wangchuk said. “Almost 125 new cases are at various stages of approval.”


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