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Ufair Ajaz completed his MBA (Master of Business Administration) from Symbiosis Institute of Management Pune India in 2008. Soon after he finished his studies, he started working as a marketing officer in a multinational automotive company where he worked for two years. Belonging to a business class family, Ufair was always interested in starting a venture of his own rather than working for someone else. This sentiment urged him to get back to his homeland Kashmir.
After witnessing his father’s career in business and the kind of challenges his father, a local businessman, had endured, it was very tough for Ufair to make a choice between employment and business. However, after a long deliberation and consultation with his friends and family, he decided to accept this challenge and expand his family two wheeler dealership business which had been in operation for 25 years selling equipment such as generators, agriculture hand pumps, water pumps, tractors and etc.
His family had run this business for years, but Ufair wanted to bring in some innovation and freshness so as to take it to a different level. Living in Pune for nearly three years, where almost 90 percent of girls used scooties for traveling, he wanted to launch two-wheelers for girls in Kashmir too. He knew that it was not going to be easy for him to generate sales for his idea because the concept of women on wheels was very rare and new to Kashmiri culture. Therefore, it was very challenging for him to get started and work towards translating his idea into success. As a result, he conducted detailed market research through various seminars and gatherings in colleges and universities of the Kashmir division to test the response of the target audience. More than 3000 females participated in various events and showed positive response to the business idea.
Once his preliminary market survey was complete, he received such positive response from his participants that he was convinced of the idea and started working towards expanding his family motor business to include two-wheeler distribution. Initially, he tried to approach some angel investors with his business plan for financial assistance, but failed to convince them in the first attempt. He recalls, “I failed to convince investors initially, but later they found that the idea was actively progressing on practical grounds and the demand for the product was very intense. Additionally, the number of girls walking in for inquiries was increasing with each passing day. As a result, investors finally decided to finance my venture”. With an initial capital of Rs. 16 lacs, Ufair introduced this venture of ladies’ two-wheelers/scooties manufactured by TVS motor company as a diversification strategy for Kashmir Motors.
When asked about the biggest achievement so far, Ufair said, “Launching scooters for girls was a big challenge, as it was not appreciated because of the cultural constraint and people used to call it as a waste of time and money. But today, when I see a girl riding a scooter with her mother or father sitting on the back seat, I can’t believe that I have made it. Now all the people are praising my initiative and courage”.
Presently, Kashmir Motors has nine showrooms and workshops in different districts of Kashmir with some of them at very remote places like Gulmarg and Baramulah. Each branch is equipped with the latest technologies and machinery in order to provide the best quality service to customers.
Ufair has also been instrumental in bringing additionally innovative products to Kashmir, such as launching ATVs (all terrain vehicles) and snowmobiles, which have seen a huge demand especially in tourist resorts in Gulmarg. He says, “I have some dreams and every new morning I look forward to accomplishing them. This helps me to keep on the entrepreneurial roller coaster ride”.
According to Ufair, the only key challenge faced by Kashmiri entrepreneurs is the political and economic instability due to prevailing conflict for past 25 years in Kashmir. But his advice for budding entrepreneurs is, “We all have the power of dreaming dreams; we should try to utilize that power to make our dreams a reality”.
Ufair shares his greatest belief and motivation by stating:
“Entrepreneurship is a spirit; it is a fire which doesn’t let you sleep.”