Srinagar: From organic farming to a customized bakery and from designer clothes to fashion accessories, women-led startups are redefining entrepreneurship in Kashmir.
Insha Rasool, an organic farmer who runs `Home Greens’ said the first and foremost thing is connecting with a mentor from your chosen field.
“They can give you valuable advice and inputs that you won’t get anywhere else. Plus, you should have hands-on experience first before starting the actual work or not. Jumping directly onto bandwagon will not benefit you,” Rasool said.
She said all the female entrepreneurs who are dealing with food commodities, in particular, can collaborate and form a community. “We all have to procure equipment from outside. It would be better if we procure a supply together. This will help us to get material at cheaper rates and also cut down on the transportation charges,” she said.
Fashion entrepreneur Kayinaat Bhat who runs `The Perfect Pair’ said getting appropriate funding is key for running a business.
“First you should have a clear idea of what you want to do. You need a basic amount of money. Sometimes fundraising is even harder for women. However, there are a lot of government schemes under Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute and banks which offer fresh start-up loans,” Bhat said.
She said as an entrepreneur, one should be in complete control of earning potential. “In order to make a shift in your business, you must be aware of your talents. Understand what you have to offer and monetize your products and services to reflect what the market will bear,” Bhat said.
Iqra Amin, a home baker, who runs an Instagram page `The cake room’ said baking is not as easy it appears.
“It is about many things. Begin with low investment and minimum baking tools like microwave and hand mixer. Grow gradually as the orders pour in. Also, those who want to pursue baking should know that all the ingredients are not readily available in the valley and you have to order them from outside. Sometimes, it takes a day or two. So before you take an order, consider the availability of materials first,” Amin said.
She said the budding baking entrepreneurs should also keep a backup for uninterrupted electric supply. “Also, in baking, you have to be careful about the power supply. You cannot keep things in the open for a long time. Secondly, the uncertain atmosphere in the valley can create communication blackouts once in a while. You might not be able to take orders but that should not demoralize you from what you are doing. Lastly, keep yourself updated with the social media trends so that you can market your products well,” Amin said.