Ameen, once a student of History and Commerce, has moved far ahead of the times when he would vend dress materials cycling through the alleyways of Srinagar. He is a businessman of repute now. His success is a telling tale of struggle, perseverance and humility. Mir Javeed reports
Enter the DRESS NEWS at Alsafa Market in Sarai Bala and one comes across an entire range of iridescent ladies’ dress material. It looks more of a sprawling showroom with an exclusive range of silk, embroidery suits, Lehangas choli and all kinds of fancy dress material.
The fortune of its proprietor Mohammad Ameen Sofi, a soft-spoken gentleman in his mid-forties, was somehow to be linked with the J&K Bank. He couldn’t get the job of a Cashier/Clerk; he applied for, nearly two-decades ago. Today he is one of the numerous success stories in businesses financed by J&K Bank.
Mildly bearded Ameen completed his double M.A in (History and Commerce) in 1987 from the Kashmir University. Till then he used to assist his father, Ghulam Mohammad Sofi, in bread making at their ancestral bakery-shop in Ikhrajpora, Rajbagh.
Nevertheless his father was eager more about the education of Ameen and his brothers. Such a humble yet perseverant background has lent Ameen’s strong and confident person an unpretentious air.
After completing his studies, he had his first job stint with Alson Motors, Sonwar as a marketeer. But he had to leave the job soon. “In the meantime I applied in J&K Bank also but fortunately didn’t succeed, though I felt bad at that time,” said Ameen, a successful businessman now, adding that only Allah knows what is better for us.
He felt quite dejected for some time. Then one of his friends Mushtaq, a tailor by profession, offered him a sales assignment for some of his dress materials, which he completed to the satisfaction of his friend.
“Since then I started buying and selling of suiting and shirting items,” recalls Ameen. I would mount a load-full of dress material upon my bicycle and vend it across the suburbs of Srinagar and Budgam, he added.
Inspired by his father, he believes that honesty backed by hard work always paves the way for God’s grace.
So he would sweat his soul out not only to earn his livelihood but also learn the basics of trade worth his academic background in commerce. Everyday he would mount his bicycle and snake through the lanes of Srinagar and its outskirts selling dress materials that include ladies and gents suits, Pheran-cloth etc. Slowly but steadily he got acquainted with the cloth-trade and understood the needs of the local market.
He opened his account with J&K Bank’s Air Cargo branch in 1991. Till 1991, he had learned the nuances of trade and understood the markets well. But without sufficient capital to cash it, the knowledge seemed of no value to him.
“One day I met the Air Cargo Branch Head and shared some of this business information with him while asking for a loan. To my surprise he not only sanctioned a Cash-Credit limit of 2.5 lacs but also counseled me about the important aspect of finances”, recalled Ameen with a hue of happiness spread across his serious countenance.
For the first time Ameen could dismount his faithful bicycle and own a shop DRESS NEWS at Sarai- Bala, Srinagar. Being a second son with elderly concerns about the family, he involved both his brothers Mohammad Ayoub and Farooq Ahmed in the trade.
Since then there has been no looking back. The business kept on expanding with the enhancement of the bank finances. The average monthly sales are about 20 lacs with overall business turnover around 4 crores. Ameen and his brothers have employed five more persons as salesmen and marketing persons. All of them get a salary of about Rs 5000.
Running a flourishing fabric business Ameen, who presently resides in the posh area of Gogji-bagh, enjoys the facility of C/C limit up to Rs 75 lacs from the J&K Bank’s Hari Singh High Street branch.
All the three brothers reside in their own palatial houses with their children getting A-class education and other facilities.
Ameen still remembers the hard times quite vividly. And he attributes all his achievements so far to the financial support of J&K Bank in times of need and adversity.
He said, “Though people from other banks attracted by my market-image regularly drop in at DRESS NEWS but I know it is J&K Bank that financed my aspirations of achieving a respectable life with decent means of livelihood”.
Looking back upon his own past Ameen felt satisfied with what he has achieved so far. He expressed hope that the younger generation would learn a meaningful lesson from his experiences.
Ameen’s touching tale is enough to provide a glimpse into the role that J&K Bank has been playing in silent but steady transformation of the socio-economic profile of individuals, families and the communities of this nation.