SRINAGAR: A young woman Kashmiri entrepreneur who revived Namda, the traditional Kashmiri rug, is contesting as the only woman for a seat in the 21-member executive committee of the Valley’s premier business body, the Kashmir Chamber of Industries and Commerce (KCCI).
If she wins, Arifa Jan will be the second woman to be part of the chamber after Gazalla Amin. “She is a young, talented, creative woman full of brilliant ideas. Her taking part in the elections is itself an achievement and if she takes over any post, it will help the organisation grow new heights,” said Sheikh Ashiq, former chamber president, and another contestant.
Arifa is one among 42 contestants vying for leadership of the 1,300-member chamber. This year, the contestants are divided into two 21-members groups – ‘United-21’ and ‘Credible-21’ – competing against each other for the 21-member executive committee. Arifa is part of the former. The polls will be held this Saturday.
The 31-year-old Arifa, who comes from a humble financial background, has revived business in the Namda as well as wages earned by its weavers. About 25 artisans, mostly women, who work with her earn about Rs 450 a day, as compared to Rs 175 that they used to earn before she established her own business.
An economics graduate and a trained entrepreneur, Arifa has explored different production techniques and designs of Namda. She has introduced designs that have attracted new clientele, and products manufactured by her company, Incredible Kashmiri Craft, have featured in sponsored exhibitions.
Asifa’s entry in the KCCI elections marks a new foray for women in Kashmir into spheres dominated by men. She is up against contestants like Dr Abdul Majid Mir of Cashmere Marketing Agencies, Abdul Wahid Malik of Hotel New Park, Adil Hussain of Mir Handicrafts, Afaq Sarwar Malik of The Farooq Trading Co, Babar Chowdhary of Hat Trick Yellow, Chowdhary Mohd Shahid of Chowdhary Mohd Shahid & Co, Farooq Amin of Kanwal Foods & Spices Pvt Ltd, Feroz Ahmad Mir of HK Cements Industries Pvt Ltd, Ghulam Nabi Bhat of Umar Carpet Factory, Irfan Ahmad Guju of IA Multiventures Pvt Ltd, Manzoor A Pakhtoon of Silk Route Holidays, Mustaq Ahmad Beigh of Srinagar Collection, Nasir Hamid Khan of Sunfresh Supermarkets, Parveez Ahmad Bhat of Rabbani Impex, Parvez Ahmad Naqash of Akbar Art Gallery, Sajid Farooq Shah of Comrade Inn Pvt Ltd, Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad of Alkhuddam Travels Pvt Ltd and Sheikh Gowhar Ali of Star C&S – members of the ‘Credible-21’.