Are you willing to let go of your well-earned, and well-respected profession in medical services to venture into the world of uncertainties of entrepreneurship? That too in the state of Jammu and Kashmir for starting an agriculture start-up? May be not in the past, but it is possible in current India. Dr Ghazala Amin has done exactly that.
Ghazala was born in Bandipora, Jammu and Kashmir. They were five sisters with a strong bonding between them. Since childhood, Ghazala had a keen interest in nature and loved to spend time in gardens and open fields. But her parents had dreams of seeing her become a doctor.
She excelled in academics and got into the Government Medical College (GMC) of Srinagar. In the meantime, she got married in her fourth year of MBBS and completed her degree in 1989. She worked in the hospital for three years before leaving the job to focus more on her family.
According to a survey conducted by Center for Women Studies, entrepreneurship among Kashmiri women is very limited. Only 5 percent women from Jammu and Kashmir chance their luck in entrepreneurship. This vast gap points out at the gender inequality prevalent in the state.
However, women like Ghazala wanted to come forward and accept the challenges, work hard, and present an unprecedented example of success. In 2004, she thought of doing something new related to her long attachment with nature and dived into the world of lavender flower business. Her family members and close friends laughed at her when she told them about her future plans. Nobody understood why Ghazala wanted to leave the field of medicine and become a flower entrepreneur.
“Women in Kashmir never want to be associated with entrepreneurship, rather they want to associate themselves with NGOs. Most of the NGOs in Kashmir are very dubious and I did not want to be part of it. My intention was not to highlight myself as a businesswoman but to encourage other women in the valley.”
Ghazala launched her startup named “Fasiam Agro Farms” with her personal savings of Rs 8,00,000. It is an agriculture start-up that cultivates aromatic plants such as rose and lavender.
She realized that the negative talks are coming from people who did not have any significance in her business. But on the other hand, she was getting support from people who really matter in her business. In the early days, she faced multiple challenges and nothing was smooth.
“I used to tell others that I am associated with an NGO. It was difficult to make people understand that I am an entrepreneur.”
The business of flower farming is not as easy as it seems. The first four years of the lavender plantation are extremely important, after which it continues to yield good production for the next 20 years. To begin, a minimum of 50-100 rows of flowers need to be planted in around a few acres of land. Today, in a season, Ghazala’s company produces around 10-15 kg of rose oil, 150 kg of lavender oil, 10,000 to 15,000 liters of rose water, and 10 quintal of dry rose flowers and petals.
Dr Ghazala has transformed the entrepreneur scenario for women in Jammu and Kashmir. Now, entrepreneurship is treated as a ‘respected profession for women’ in the valley. Her company, Fasiam Agro Farms, is now growing at an annual rate of 8 percent with an annual turnover of around Rs 1 crore. Dr Ghazala Amin is a true example of women empowerment in our country. Our salute to her great effort.