December 2017 News

How Young Kashmiri Women Are Scripting Success Stories

10 December 2017
NDTV
Sheikh Zaffar Iqbal

Srinagar: 26-year-old Anam Siraj quit a lucrative job in a multi-national company two years ago to start her own fashion brand in Srinagar. After getting a Master's degree in commerce from Kashmir University and a diploma in textile designing, she says she started her venture with just a Facebook page but in two years she has a full-fledged designer clothes outlet 'The Closet Cloud By Anam' in upscale Rajbagh neighbourhood. Raising funds and fighting taboos was a problem but the 2016 unrest that shut down Kashmir for months a huge setback. But even that did not deter Anam to single-mindedly pursue her dreams. 'It was a bit difficult. In the beginning my parents were really reluctant. They were not sure whether I will be able to do it because there are so many things other than doing business in Kashmir. It is a lot different than rest of the country. I believe that there has been this constant convincing (needed) on my part,' said Anam Siraj. Anam is not alone. Many young Kashmiri girls are breaking the barriers and diving into uncharted territories with confidence. Omaira and Beenish are working to revive the dying crochet art in Kashmir and convert it into a lucrative business. After post-graduate degree, both abandoned the idea of a government job or private employment and turned entrepreneurs by reviving the traditional art form. Their idea is to give a modern flavour to the crochet handicrafts and market it internationally through social media. 'Craft World Kashmir', which produces crochet suits, accessories and bridal packages, received an overwhelming response with innovative ideas like floral jewellery becoming an instant hit, the said. The two have roped in many more educated women to expand the mission. 'We have fewer opportunities of job here. I thought why not to do something on our own and remain independent which is what can be beneficial for us,' said Beenish. 'Our chain is growing. We were two first, now six more members have joined us. We are training them and at the same time employing them. We want to set up a unit and create a revolution in Kashmir,' said Omaira. The central and the state governments are also reaching out to young Kashmiri startups by providing training and loans. The focus is to encourage creativity and make young Kashmiri men and women self-sustaining. 'There are various tax concessions that we are providing. We are also financing (ventures) through MUDRA and through Stand Up India (scheme). Obviously, the India Aspirational Fund which is intended to strengthen the venture capital in this country is providing significant financial equity to startups,' said Jayant Sinha, Union Minister for Civil Aviation. 'We are providing them venture finance and bank finance at moderate rates plus providing some marketing support and network. There are a lot of institutions working towards this including the handicraft development corporation and others. We need to increase the efficiency of those and their access of these women entrepreneurs,' said Haseeb Drabu, Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister.

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