Srinagar, Nov 22: In 2014 before he landed in Sheikh- ul- Aalam international airport Srinagar, he was working as an aircraft engineer in Mumbai. Caught with the challenges in the company, he was forced to quit the job and return home.
Sarwar Hussain Malik, then a 25-year-old aircraft engineer, left his job at Air India Company in Mumbai and returned back to Srinagar.
Hailing from Khanyar area of Srinagar, Malik studied aircraft engineering in Mumbai and was absorbed by Air India Company but with time he says he faced discrimination in the company and did not receive equal treatment.
While reaching Srinagar he said he was relieved from all the odds he faced in Mumbai but now because he was jobless his frustration increased. “In order to get a job, I went from pillar to post but couldn’t get one probably because there was no scope for aircraft engineering in Kashmir. For days and nights I kept thinking about my future until I got an idea of establishing an industry,” he said amid a smile.
In the absence of the booming private sector in Kashmir, Malik decided to create his own space and eventually landed in Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI), Pampore where he received technical guidance and market analysis from different industrial experts.
“On one chilly morning in March, an idea struck my mind to start a mineral water producing unit,” 31- year old Malik told Rising Kashmir.
Within a few months he completed all the formalities to establish a water bottling plant under the name—“Proactive”.
It was the Credit Guarantee Scheme under Credit Guarantee Fund Trust For Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSC) of the central government, which helped him to get bank assistance. “I borrowed money from friends and relatives also to acquire two kanals of land at the Industrial estate in Lassipora.”
With a production capacity of 6,000 litres per hour, Malik’s company has supplied millions of bottles of bottled water across the state. “I am right now the most admired entrepreneur in small scale industries (up to 5 crore investments). My brother has been a tremendous support in my journey,” he said.
When asked where he gets water from, Malik replied: “Our source is an underground aquifer more than 200 feet deep. The water that comes from bore well gets accumulated in different reservoirs. After passing through the filtration and reverse osmosis treatment plant the supply goes into the bottling section. “The bottles,” he added, “are going through proper rinsing, then the water filling takes place which is followed by capping, labelling and ultimately gets ready as a finished product.”
Being an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University Malik claimed when he started off his water bottling plant he had just seven employees but today he has a team of 20 which includes skilled, non-skilled and marketing professionals.
Malik’s industrial journey was also dotted with challenges. Right from documentation process up to manufacturing of the product, “the process was full of odds and challenges”.
“When I started my unit, floods wreaked havoc in Kashmir and my bank liabilities increased. I did not even have money to pay employee salaries but I braved the difficult situation,” said Malik adding that challenges are a part of life and an entrepreneur has to be a risk-taker.
Malik, who is also the general secretary of a consortium of young industrialists said that one should try to become a job provider rather than a job seeker. “Everyone cannot get government jobs in Kashmir and therefore aspiring entrepreneurs should look for government schemes to avail them and start an industry or a unit.”
Being a successful entrepreneur, Malik is being invited by different colleges and universities across the valley to give industrial training to the students.
After establishing a premium water bottling business in the Lassipora industrial area in Pulwama, Malik is now introducing other products—two new grocery products besides beverages such as juices, soda, pulp and even dairy products.