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Inspiring story of young woman entrepreneur from Kashmir who is making a mark

Last Updated on March 10, 2022 at 1:51 pm

Young entrepreneurs across the entire world are fighting all odds to establish themselves and their businesses and it can be rightly said that times are changing for better. Jammu and Kashmir is also witnessing rise in entrepreneurship and one such example comes from South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

A young girl and now a rising woman entrepreneur, 27, Shahzada Akhtar started her business in just Rs.25 is now running a successful dairy farm in Kashmir. Driven by poverty, buried under the pressure of paying debts, she could not see any ray of hope before starting her venture.

 In the year 2015, Shahzada from Mitrigam village came in contact with Neelofar Jan, who had returned from Andhra Pradesh along with local vocational trainers through the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) department.

She was taught to start many easily-established ventures like sewing set-up, goat farming, cattle farming, cow farming and domestic dairy farming, etc. and the trainers motivated and advised local women to start self-help group having 10 members.

With the help of trainers Shahzada came to know about the ‘Umeed’ scheme and she along with nine more women, created a team and opened an account in a local bank and they had to submit Rs.25 every week in this account. Shahzada says with lot of difficulty all the members of the group managed to deposit Rs 25 in the account every week. The consistency had a pay-off beyond their expectations. Today, after seven years, each member has more than 65,000 rupees in her account.

For the first six months, Shahzada didn’t take any money from the group fund. Soon their group got Community Investment Support Fund (CIF) and other incentives from the government. It improved their financial strength and only after that her group members provided Shahzada a loan of Rs 40,000 for establishing her business.

With this money, Shahzada bought a cow and she built a make-shift cowshed outside her house and gradually started earning. With time, she returned the loan money to the group. In 2017, Shahzada purchased three more cows and now she owns 25 cows and has given job to more than 14 people, including her two brothers on regular basis. Her dairy farm on average produces 300-350 liters of milk daily and supplies it to all the four districts of south Kashmir and even to Srinagar city.

Shahzada said that one must be ready to give all and everything in business and keep the place clean for maintaining the health and hygiene of the animals and ensure the quality of milk.

Further she has plans to get cheese-making equipment, in order to diversify her business. Shahzada thinks that dairy is an eco-friendly business and could be commenced in all seasons and thus calls it one of the best employment generation options for youth in Kashmir. Shahzada is now looking after 175 women in 10 groups in the district who are registered with the self-help groups of the department.