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27-year-old Arshid Mehraj from Bijbhara town in South Kashmir's Anantnag district completed his management degree in 2008 from Leicester Business School, United Kingdom. After graduating, Arshid took a job in UK and worked for two years. After a few years into the job, he realized that the 12-hour job schedule was something he was not meant for. He quit his job in London and returned to Kashmir with an aim to start his own venture.
Arshid hails from a business class family. His father has a fruit business and his two younger brothers are pursuing studies. At home, Arshid shared the idea of setting up a modern school with his father who immediately supported his idea. Arshid’s vision was to be a social entrepreneur and he decided to invest in the education sector. He says he got the capital money from J&K bank and also some support from his father. "I submitted a detailed business plan to the bank. The bank found my idea feasible," he says. Arshid received a loan amount of Rs. 3 Crores from J&K Bank.
He says he chose Bijbhera because he felt there was lack of quality standards and modernization in the education system in Bijbehara and its surrounding villages. "When I interacted with the kids in the village, I found they were talented, but due to lack of good schooling, their talent was getting wasted. I wanted to do something for them, so I took an initiative to help the children of remote villages.”
In 2010, he purchased land in Zianapora, Shopian and set up a modern public school called National Innovations Public School (NIPS). He implemented innovations in the learning process, which includes specific themes for primary classes, e-learning and Adicom smart classes. He has equipped his school with the best of facilities. In a year, the school had around 350 students enrolled from pre-nursery to 6th standard with 17 professional teachers and 30 non-teaching staff mostly from the surrounding villages.
Arshid wants to develop his school into a high school so that more students have access to quality education. His passion for development, which he says is rooted in education, made him to invest in this sector. "Development and education go hand in hand," he believes.
"In Kashmir, the education sector is growing, but the quality of education is plumetting. Had I been after money, I would have taken over my father’s fruit business, but I wanted to focus on quality education and bring quality education to the doorsteps of rural folk,” says Arshid.
Asked to share some words for aspiring entrepreneurs, he says, “Entrepreneurship is about chasing your dreams, no matter what it takes. It’s a way to return something back to the society. So one should not hesitate to enter this world (entrepreneurship). No doubt it is full of challenges but always remember persistence wins.”