Srinagar: Young women entrepreneurs in Kashmir who had recently started businesses that depended on the internet for marketing or for online orders are now in despair as last year’s lockdown has been followed by the COVID 19 lockdown in the valley.
After completing her bachelor’s in business administration from Kashmir University, Huma Amin had started an online store, Fashion Trends.
“I first started uploading photos of clothes on Instagram and WhatsApp for customers to choose from. I went for the online mode of delivery as I did not have the finances for opening a store. I soon had a clientele and I started catering to them. In just one year, my business grew from 10 customers a month to 30 in a month,” Huma said.
Even as Huma was thinking of expanding her business, the internet blockade began in August last year and now there is a complete lockdown due to the coronavirus.
“My business completely relied on the internet. I was attracting many customers on social media. They would place their orders on my social media page and I would deliver the product to their address. Things were working quite well for me till August last year,” Huma said.
“But now I am not able to deliver a single product because of the current situation,” she said.
Another young entrepreneur who has a store at Hyderpora in Srinagar with its Instragram account by the name of ‘The Fabric Hive’ said, “We started our business in December last year. We introduced imported Indian dress material in Kashmir. It was a new concept and an experiment; I put all my savings into it. Our shop was at an odd location, and we had also started in winter, but through pages on Instagram and Facebook, people came to know about our venture. They started coming to my store and we started doing good even after being situated in an empty mall on the 2nd floor.
“But our all hard work and money is going to waste. We have to pay electricity bills, salaries to staff. Our store is closed now. We cannot blame anyone for the current situation but if we had good internet, we may have been able to attract customers through social media and receive orders online,” the young woman said.
Similar is the story of Asra Qurashi, owner of Kehzabr store that sells bridal as well as casual outfits. She said, “We already suffered a huge loss due to the abrogation of Article 370 and now due to the COVID 19, we are not able to do any work.”
Asra said she is very worried as she had taken many orders for bridal dresses but now she is not able to visit her store due to the lockdown.
“Even if I somehow reach my store, from where will I get the accessories which I need,” she said.
Asra said she has to pay monthly rent for the store as well as salaries of eight workers. “I have to pay the workers as this is not their fault, but if the situation remains the same I don’t know how I will meet the expenses,” she said