Ufaq Fatima

Breaking Stereotypes: Meet the inspiring businesswomen in Kashmir

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Srinagar, July 31: Women entrepreneurship, which is a new-sprung development in Kashmir, is growing fast from last few years with many women here not only founding different business ventures but also flourishing by fighting all odds that come their way.

Saba Altaf, 24, has co-founded ‘Kanavez’, a women fashion wear venture, she is also a designer and creative handler of the same.

“Me and my friends always wanted to start a business together and soon after completing our degrees we started to work on our ideas. We started our venture by just investing 1500 rupees, but after receiving a good response from people we started to invest more of our money and time in it,” says Saba, who has a Masters degree in tourism adding that Kanavez is just one year old venture but with our ‘unique Kashmir plus western designs’ we have already created a niche in the Kashmir market.”

For Saba, the difficulties in running the business not only include the frequent shutdowns and curfews, but also the rampant stereotyping with regard to women entrepreneurs in Kashmir. “Running a business enterprise is not so easy here, particularly when you are a woman, but here we are fighting against all odds to make this brand grow with time,” she adds.

Saba along with her two partners Mehvish and Faizan who have done MBA are now working to take this brand to new heights t by collaborating with online shopping stores like Myntra and Amazon.

Nadiya Mushtaq, an artist, is another name in women entrepreneurship in Kashmir who has set an example of how to turn her passion into entrepreneurship. “Being an artist is an asset to me. I am someone who is making judicious use of technology by not only promoting my talent but also generating income,” says Nadiya.

“I took advantage of social media to make my business grow by uploading my artwork on my Facebook and Instagram accounts where I instantaneously attracted the buyers. I started to receive orders, some of them being highly customized,” she adds.

Nadiya is an Islamic calligrapher which is very rare and unique in Kashmir. “The kind of business that I am associated with is a tricky one. You have to target the right buyers. A slight deviance makes people think that it is my hobby and not the enterprise,” says Nadiya, who sells her artwork both at national and international level.

Another women entrepreneur namely Tabish Habib has promoted some out of the box business ideas in Kashmir. Her first business venture, Prism Creationz, that she founded in 2013 was first ever incursion by a woman in the field of designing, printing, and publishing. Later in 2016, she launched another venture named ThinkPod, first co-working space in Jammu and Kashmir.

“ThinkPod is a next generation of blending a café and technology into a co-working office space where people from different backgrounds come and discuss their ideas. The idea to start ThinkPod was to break the traditional concept of working in Kashmir,” says Tabish adding that her business also aims to boost the economy of the state by generating the employment through her ventures.

The journey of Tabish of being an entrepreneur has not been a cake walk. Like other women entrepreneurs, Tabish too has faced many hurdles in keeping her business going.

“My both business ventures were hit due to the unrest. To work in such an uncertain political environment like that of Kashmir has the tendency to discourage everyone and above all the entrepreneurship in Kashmir is male dominated, so you we to fight this patriarchy too,” says Tabish.

Talking about the aspiring women entrepreneurs of Kashmir, Tabish says that women in Kashmir are fighting all odds by bringing more and more innovative business ideas in the Valley.

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