Life was full of remorse for young Tashi of Leh who first became tourist guide and then a computer centre operator to flip fortunes. But nothing helped until one day he availed finance from the government initiative which saw him rising above disappointments. Bilal Handoo profiles the promising entrepreneur from Leh
He is having a typical Ladakhi face wearing a relentless smile and expressive eyes. But Tashi Phuntsog, 29, wasn’t feeling for a smile two years ago betraying his own personality. And the reason: his unending struggle against his extended bad patch in life. To flip his fortunes, he did it all: from being a tourist guide to computer centre operator, but nothing helped. Until one fine day, he met his moment which eventually helped him to start his electronics shop in Leh where today he is smiling like anything by witnessing bloom in his trade.
But four years ago, Tashi was uncertain about life. And the main source behind his brewed feelings was the financial hiccups at home. Already he had seen how his two elder brothers left home to join army for improving the financial graph of their family. But somehow the income couldn’t fulfil the family expectations and requirements.
All this was making a class 12th student and the youngest son of Phuntsog family restless. It was 2009 and Leh was abuzz with adventure tourists. He sensed his opportunity and volunteered himself as a trekking guide. It was a special feeling for the young Tashi to earn some handy bucks after putting up hard efforts. He kept doing the same until the then Leh’s limited tourist season (spanning over just four months) disillusioned him.
With some spare earnings (made as tourist guide), he started a computer centre with the help of his partner. He had then completely parted his ways with studies. There was no motivation left in him to study beyond class 12th. The computer centre fetched him some handy income, but deep inside Tashi was growing restless. He was perhaps eyeing a big break.
Till the summer of 2012, he kept exploring his eureka moment. And then he heard about EDI’s SKEWPY scheme. Tashi grabbed the opportunity and pitched for Rs 28 lakh project venture involving setting up an electronics shop. It took him Rs 1 lakh to rent out a shop that further cost his Rs 2 lakh for renovation. With rest of the sum, he brought modern day electronic gadgets and appliances to woo the customers. In the beginning of 2013, when he opened his shop, he managed to gather many customers. As more and more customers poured by the end of the first month, he had pooled a margin of above Rs 20,000. “The sale was quite satisfactory to begin with and it did encourage me to pack my shop with more electronic stuffs,” says Tashi in not-so-fluent Urdu.
One and a half year later, his sales are reluctant to dip down. His margins have increased manifold. “It [margin] is anything near or above Rs 40,000 a month now,” he says. Apart from his improved margin, his manpower at shop has also strengthened. He has employed four electricians and one worker. Now to tick the sales counter even more, he is now eyeing on government supplies, which he think are: sustainable, bulky and profitable.
Ever since he has started his unit with the support of EDI, he feels liberated and wants to give back to his society in a big way. “My dream is to take my unit to greater level so that I could employ many of my people,” he says.
But before he could do that he immediate challenge, he says, is to end the monopoly of a Jammu based Kunal Electronics over Leh electronics market. Though Tashi has managed to penetrate the local market but he is yet to match the level of the old Jammu based electronics player. “I am confident enough to leave him behind very soon,” Tashi says with a throw of confidence in his voice.
Soon after gaining the top slot of electronic supplier in his town, Tashi says, he would then think to diversify his business. It seems his unit packed with electronic goods is motivating him to dream at a lightning speed. Indeed, his electronic setup has spread an unmatched brilliance on his face.