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JKEDI commences entrepreneurship development programme in Poonch



JKEDI entrepreneurship development programme

Director assures all possible support to unemployed youth

BK News

Poonch, Feb 3: Director Jammu & Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) GM Dar on Wednesday e-inaugurated an Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) for the educated unemployed youth of Poonch at the District Centre.

The EDP is being organized by the institute under Himayat Self Employment Scheme (HSES), in which 51 candidates including 12 females have registered and shall be trained for basic business management over the next 18-days.

Director, JKEDI, GM Dar

According to the JKEDI statement, the director in his welcome address assured the participating candidates all possible support to help them establish fresh business ventures and upscaling of the existing small business units after the completion of training.

He said the youth in Poonch have potential to excel in any field. “I congratulate you all for choosing JKEDI to realize your dreams. Dream big so that you can achieve big. I will personally monitor the progress of this training program and disbursal of your respective files once they are complete in all respects,” the director told the aspiring entrepreneurs.

He assured them that the institute will handhold every single candidate and shall ensure smooth processing of their cases in a time-bound manner. The director urged District Centre, Poonch to provide all facilities available for the trainees and ensure the training is hassle-free for them.

The candidates have chosen varied activities in the sectors like manufacturing, trading, agri-allied and services sector to earn their livelihood in a decent manner.

On the occasion, few aspirants also shared their business ideas with the Director who assured them every possible help to stand on their own.

After the training program, the aspirants will be provided financial linkage under Term Loan scheme of National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) for the establishment of their respective business ventures.

The e-inauguration was attended by Vishal Ray, Faculty at JKEDI, District Nodal Officer Poonch, Ishfaq A Mir, Rajesh Kotwal, Communication Associate at JKEDI and Rashid Mehmood, Office Associate, Poonch. This is the first training program of JKEDI after the COVID-19 restrictions were eased out.

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The lonely journey: Mental health and entrepreneurship in J&K



Mental health and entrepreneurship in J&K

Sarwar Malik

According to a study, about one half (49%) of entrepreneurs suffer from at least one form of mental health condition during their lifetime.

Freeman’s research has shown that startup founders are:

– Twice as likely to suffer from depression

– Six times more likely to suffer from ADHD

– Three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse

– 10 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder

– Twice as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalisation

– Twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts

Becoming an entrepreneur in J&K can be emotionally draining and time-consuming. It can turn into a very stressful situation for youngsters and their families. This problem is exacerbated when family members are unsupportive or resentful of the new business. The family must give you the respect, support, and trust you need to succeed.

The rising unemployment in J&K has put youngsters into deep trouble and a confused state, where they usually have no idea regarding their prospect and the source of their income. They often tend to lose hope and start working somewhere they don’t belong to and usually earn less to stay independent and ask no money from parents. In Kashmir, the widespread sentiment that many college graduates are overqualified for their jobs that do not need their high level of skills and for which they are paid much less than those college graduates who are in jobs that do use their skills.

Small business experts say that significant tensions arise in the household when the family doesn’t share the same expectations as the entrepreneur with regard to the direction of the business. Even more so if the family believes you are indulging a pipe dream and that the business will not succeed. They may tolerate your business in the beginning but grow resentful down the road. If your spouse doesn’t believe your business is a serious venture, there will be conflict in the relationship. Say that you buy equipment for the business; your spouse has to understand this is a necessity and not view it as you are wasting money.

Our society plays a harsh role especially with unemployed youth and that’s why youngsters prefer to stay isolated, which often leads to depression and anxiety. To simplify, the men and women are combined because their stories are virtually the same in relative terms. Consequently, the penalty for being overqualified was largest over a decade because overqualified men and women earned 58 percent less than those in a good-fit job.

Entrepreneurship is important for a number of reasons, from promoting social change to driving innovation. Entrepreneurs are frequently thought of as national assets to be cultivated, motivated, and remunerated to the greatest possible extent. In fact, some of the most developed nations such as the United States are world leaders due to their forward-thinking innovation, research, and entrepreneurial individuals.

Our approach with struggling entrepreneurs should be very soft, supportive and encouraging. In most cases Kashmiri parents want their kids to study hard enough just to acquire government jobs. While looking at the sufferings and miseries of the business fraternity, no parents would want their kids to become entrepreneurs. In certain cases, some parents often show their support towards their kids for setting up a small business but often restrict them from innovations and new startup ideas and they usually end up with simple traditional businesses that too under the supervision of their parents. Such type of entrepreneurship won’t lead to financial freedom rather it tends to create more frustration among youngsters.

In certain cases, many youngsters quit their jobs to begin ventures and many succeeded spectacularly. Even graduating students began to choose entrepreneurship over employment. Financial freedom meant one could choose how to earn their income.

Financial freedom in the mind of a young first-time earner is the joy of not having to ask the parent for money. To have money in the bank to allocate as one desires, and to make all the decisions associated with that earning is financial freedom to savour. Whether that leads to reckless spending and debt, or conservative savings and sacrifice, or a prudent balance of both is a reflection of how a young person learns to deal with newfound financial freedom.

My own struggle of setting up an FMCG factory at Lassipora Industrial Estate was full of challenges and hurdles, I felt like quitting most of the times but I never gave up, and above all, the social and mental pressure from the family added up to the miseries. I was often made to feel regret for my bank loan and instead of showing their support, I was put down to fight my own struggle alone. But yes, definitely things would’ve been different and better if I had been encouraged instead of demoralising. Family plays an important role during the development phase of any entrepreneur, it acts like a painkiller and a ray of hope, it motivates an entrepreneur to conquer more heights. At the beginning of any business, an entrepreneur requires some tiny amount of seed capital for market-related surveys and other developments, and as per my opinion, it becomes the responsibility of family members to support them for such cause.

At last, I feel like I have won the battle by self-motivation and fighting instead of taking a flight to run away from my problems. Today everyone may be proud of me but I know how hard it was and I know how hard it is going to be in future for those who are running their enterprises during such a sensitive period when Kashmir is going through lockdown after lockdown.

Great entrepreneurs have the ability to change the way we live and work, on local and national bases. If successful, their innovations may improve standards of living, and in addition to creating wealth with entrepreneurial ventures, they also create jobs and contribute to a growing economy. The importance of entrepreneurship is not to be understated.

For the government, I advise setting up special counselling cells for aspiring entrepreneurs and guide them through government-related schemes so that they can have a better future. There should be face-to-face interactions with existing entrepreneurs and at the same time, the government must come forward to help those sick unitholders who shut their units post-August 5, 2019 and support them in the form of soft loans or capital infusion.

The author is CEO of Huckleberry Industries and MD at Proactive Premium Water and also general secretary at Consortium 0f Young Industrialists representing young industrialists at various economic platforms

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Never-ending struggle of J&K’s young entrepreneurs



Struggle of J&K's young entrepreneurs

Sarwar Malik

For over a decade, J&K witnessed a sharp rise in entrepreneurship. A good number of youngsters chose to leave their well-paying jobs to become entrepreneurs and job creators. Youngsters, who were settled outside, came back to invest in Kashmir and contribute their bit towards its development.

While dealing with conflicting social attitudes and other youth-related issues, these youngsters too have to face all those pressures faced by any other businessperson. Entrepreneurship is seen as a channel for the talents of many highly educated young people to explore their potential and cash their business acumen. Lack of jobs and the rise in unemployment is also seen as the main reason for growing entrepreneurship here.

At 16.2%, Jammu and Kashmir has the second-worst unemployment rate among states/union territories in the country as educated youth struggle with neglect and lack of job-creation policy. Evidence shows that the unemployed are unhappier, more likely to experience a range of health issues, for young people the effects of unemployment may be particularly scarring, evidence suggests that a spell of youth unemployment increases the likelihood of poorer wages and unemployment in later life. As per the Economic Survey Report of 2016, the employment rate in Jammu and Kashmir is higher than the average national employment rate. Nearly a quarter of its population in the age group of 18 to 29 years is unemployed, which is far more than the national rate of 13.2%.

Adding to it, the financial crisis post-2014 Floods and turmoil in 2016, youngsters find themselves hanging in between the continued geopolitical issues. However, the government came up with certain startup policies through JKEDI, PMEGP, PMMY, JKREGP, Standup India which somehow came like a hope for those who wanted to start their own enterprise. But this was not the end of their struggle, because most of the times the amount sanctioned through these schemes required to have either mortgage or guarantors by the financial institutions. It has also been witnessed that most of the projects sanctioned are either under-financed or poorly financed. Even maximum of the times banks don’t appreciate credit guarantee CGTMSE cover where govt promise up to Rs 2 crore without any guarantee or mortgage.

It’s also required to have your own place of work either owned or leased, which also becomes a reason for aspirants to give up because it’s not easy for everyone to have their own business place and at the same time it’s not easy to acquire leased place and above all, there is no land available in any industrial area throughout J&K. While discussing the latest J&K industrial land allotment policy 2021-30, there is no special quota for youngsters especially women entrepreneurs and there is no relaxation of land premium as well, which means that anyone be it a well-established businessman or aspiring entrepreneur or any new startup, the procedure of land allotment remains same, and that is the reason we see most of the industrial estates are dominated by either businessmen or second-generation entrepreneurs.

While going through our industrial policy and the latest Central Industrial Development Scheme of Rs 28,400 crore announced by the Lt Governor, it’s again a ray of hope for youngsters but how is this possible when there is lack of ease of doing business or poor management in any implementing department.  In 2020 the union territory has obtained 21st rank in ease of doing business which may be better than 29th rank in 2018 but on a broader perspective, J&K doesn’t even contribute 1% to the average national income.

Promoting youth entrepreneurship will not only help in reducing unemployment but more importantly showing young people that they have alternatives to create their own destiny by starting their own companies and just not waiting to find a job. A lot of constraints and perceived barriers to youth entrepreneurship have been identified as lack of capital, poor infrastructure, strict and cumbersome Government regulations, lack of guidance and awareness etc. J&K is facing slow growth of entrepreneurship due to least developed infrastructural facilities like communication, transport, power, and economic information etc.

Entrepreneurs create jobs, increase innovation, raise competition and are responsive to changing economic opportunities and trends. Entrepreneurship offers other positive externalities. A young person setting up a new business may provide ‘demonstration’ or learning externalities in that they may act as a role model for other young people. This may be particularly advantageous in deprived communities because setting up a new business especially if it goes on to be successful may signal that entrepreneurship is a mechanism for helping disadvantaged people break out of social exclusion. Indeed, one of the reasons why youth entrepreneurship is so attractive is that it offers an indigenous solution to economic disadvantage.

In spite of the increasing recognition of entrepreneurship as a source of job creation, regional development, and economic dynamism in a rapidly globalising world, there has been no systematic attempt to look at it from a youth angle. Youth entrepreneurship is picking up fast not only in developed states but also in developing states/UTs like J&K. Yet the overall poor rate of entrepreneurship may be attributed to several different factors like lack of venture capital, lack of infrastructure and political instability. While the state government has provided a host of incentives for industrial development, the rate of youth entrepreneurship remains low. Educated, skilled and unskilled youth need to consider entrepreneurship.

Post lockdown August 5, 2019, in continuation with the emergency lockdown of Covid19, came like a dent to already struggling economy. Entrepreneurs were still paying the losses of the turmoil of 2016 through the bank restructuring scheme which was supposed to end in December 2019. This instability caused huge sufferings to young entrepreneurs and ultimately lost all their savings and working capitals. As per the study held by the Youth Co:Lab (Asia Pacific) 86% of young entrepreneurs reported that coronavirus has negatively impacted their business. Among these, 1 in 3 report a major slowdown, and 1 in 4 have stopped entirely. Of the young entrepreneurs who report that coronavirus has negatively impacted their business, 88% have experienced reduced customer demand, 34% have experienced supply chain disruptions, 26% cannot progress government business, and 25% have experienced distribution disruption.

The special economic package which was announced by the Finance Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman on 13 May 2020. The name of the Scheme is ‘Distressed Assets Fund – Subordinate Debt for Stressed MSMEs but it came in the form of another loan and ultimately increased the liabilities of struggling entrepreneurs. As per another survey held by local body CYIK only 9.5% of young entrepreneurs reported that their business has received a tax break, loan, grant, subsidy, or another form of support.

Despite these negative impacts, the youth-led enterprises across J&K are innovating to support their communities to combat coronavirus and build back better. Youth-led enterprises are fighting misinformation, mobilising community action to protect the vulnerable, and developing innovative new products and services.

The author is CEO of Huckleberry Industries and MD at Proactive Premium Water and also general secretary at Consortium Of Young Industrialists representing young industrialists at various economic platforms

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Being a first generation entrepreneur in Kashmir



First Generation Entrepreneurs in Kashmir

Bottlenecks FGEs face

Sameer Malik

Word ‘Entrepreneur’ is very common in Kashmir. Enough to evoke a yawn! Or a cliché to talk about when talking with colleagues and friends. Does it feel like emancipation when you are alone and not talking about it? Don’t worry, it‘s not your fault. For 20 years, ‘entrepreneurs’ and ‘startups’ are two keywords that doubled in Google Search. It has become rant and many times, we too think about starting a small business of our own. Let’s first try to understand ‘First Generation Entrepreneurs of Kashmir’. Are they different from regular Kashmiri entrepreneurs? They are so busy in their lives that they find it hard to remember the names and addresses of all their acquaintances. Specifically, a first-generation industrialist in Kashmir spends more time with banks, in interface with government departments, transport agencies, suppliers, than with family or at the factory for that matter.

Who are first-generation entrepreneurs (FGE)?

They are actually the wealth creators and fresh leaders. The major difference is that a First Generation Entrepreneur can invest a small amount with the risk of losing it all while an established one is ‘Risk-Safe’ or probably with a portfolio. The fear of investment is attached with both and both need dedication and must be industrious workers. For every businessperson all days are not the same; consistency is the most important. First Generation Entrepreneurs are the fellows who repetitively ask themselves ‘How to stay motivated throughout the day, month, and year? How to overtake/surpass the competitors? How to be more productive?’

Even today FGE is not a symbol of business prestige here in Kashmir. The regulatory entities, banks and other elements of the external business environment in Kashmir take time to show confidence in First Generation Entrepreneurs of Kashmir.

How are the First Generation Entrepreneurs of Kashmir doing?

FGE has a strong ideology to win the long road race. With the advent of the modern marketing concept and innovative business plan, FGE can easily create demand and find buyers to fulfil their needs. Specifically, First Generation Industrialists have competed ferociously with traditional businesses of Kashmir. Since half a decade First Generation Industrialists are negotiating credits with banks, waiting for seasons, waiting for favourable business policies by regulatory agencies, expecting favourable environment.

Where are First Generation Entrepreneurs in Kashmir?

They are everywhere. Some will start a cooking startup, others will opt for food business; few will go for logistics occupation, few will provide vehicles on rent for these logistics; some will create a payment gateway, others will cater the security to that gateway. One way or another, they are trying to link into the ideal universal chain, the rest are in education, healthcare, retail, e-commerce and mobile communication space, besides many others.

The perpetual struggle to retain the reputation is the vital factor in entrepreneurship.

The Challenging Road

Being a first-generation entrepreneur makes things a little more about survival guide for those who want to chart their own course and be their own boss. Ten years from now, kids may look back at these successful entrepreneurs and will copy them. Kick start your journey to being a successful entrepreneur with these habits: Read a lot, set short-term and long-term goals, connect with positive people, be humble. Get ready for the hurdles if you choose to walk down this path.

Get into value creation, create jobs, manufacture, and process, pack.  That will help our highly leveraged economy and can be causing its recovery in long run. Importing commodities, infusing debt to the state, restricting capital investment, with stringent lending policies, declining liquidity, hard access to credit will only increase inflation, increase unemployment, put more below the poverty line.


FGEs in Kashmir have answered existential questions from family, friends, and strangers too.  To all aspiring FGEs be ready for annoying and sometimes depressing questions and topics, but don’t get frustrated and continue focusing on the important things in your venture. Be ready for that interrogatory session?  Even getting into business with the highest qualification and other credentials in Kashmir is going to be an uphill task, may it interface with external business entities, finding a match or even getting along with family.

Lost Outlooks for FGE

With no one to look up to for specific business advice at home, your own expectation of challenges isn’t as realistic as it should be. They face unseen challenges and unexpected rivalries in the journey. They might get lost because of the lack of maturity in the path. Are you ready for the be-wilderness and bafflement? We have traditionally a close-knit Kashmiri society, people here will talk about you no matter what you do, I must say IGNORE, go with your gut feeling.

Solitary walk

With high-Risk Quotient, it was always going to be a solitary walk. Even FGE won’t be aware of the breadth and depth of risks involved in one’s own enterprise. Be aware of the advice from your folks. It was meant to be a lone-wolf walk, so you will justify it necessarily. You will fall, rise, collapse again but all it matters is how long you can stand alone. If you cross the specific time successfully, you are no longer the ‘Solitary King’. Now, you are the ‘Sole King’.

Low-pitch endorsement in Kashmir

Well, you won’t be rewarded instantaneously. And you know what you will get in the beginning? A ‘Low-pitch’ appraisal of pessimism and maybe a demotivating message that might lead you to the wrong path, but don’t lose faith. Are you geared up to hear the words you never wanted to?

There you are, cross this bridge and you will be on your way to beat the hurdles you are facing in the First Generation Entrepreneurial journey.

Settled as a bootstrapper industrialist in Kashmir, Sameer Malik has spent nearly a decade working at Delloite and Coke in Gulf and India. He has a master’s degree in finance

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