School dropout entrepreneur inspired by Bill Gates inspires hundreds in Kashmir

Cheikh Asif, 28, is pushing hard to transform the digital sector in the Valley

Battaloo: Sheikh Asif, 28, is a self-made businessman who dropped out of school and now runs a renowned information technology (IT) company in Manchester, England. A native of Barapathar, Batmaloo, Srinagar, he is the author of the publications start a business, online business ideaand Digitization in business. Currently, Asif is a digital marketer, educator, business owner, and writer.

Asif also spent his childhood under Chinar trees and beside streams like many other Kashmir children. He was admitted to Shaheen Public School, Manigam Ganderbal in 1999 where his father was stationed at the time. Asif’s struggle began in 2000 when his father, Ghulam Rasool, a police officer in Jammu and Kashmir, fell ill. The cause of the disease has remained misery for them to this day. Despite several attempts, the disease could not be diagnosed in various hospitals. Which eventually caused them to run out of money.

Hajhra Begum, Asif’s mother, had to sell most of the family assets to cope with her husband’s treatment. With no money, Hajhra applied for a loan to meet her husband’s medical treatment.

This incident not only impacted Asif’s mental health but also his studies, which eventually forced him to say goodbye to his educational career, which he had never dreamed of.

Recalling a specific incident, Asif said he was in eighth grade when he could not afford to buy a pen to take his final exams. He says he could never forget this phase of his life that anchored his heart.

After his mother came to learn about it, she was shocked to see that he didn’t have a pen with him for the exams. After this incident, his mother systematically examined his school bag to ensure that he had all the essential things for his studies.

While talking to first post, Asif said, “To buy me pens and other stationery, my mother sold copper utensils. It was heartbreaking for me and I felt it was better to remain illiterate instead of seeing my mother’s struggle.

Asif says this was the turning point in his decision to drop out of school for good and start working to support the family financially.

Asif was deeply moved by the incident and feared his mother would continue to sell items from around the house to support his upbringing, he said.

At the age of fifteen in 2008, Asif started looking for a job against his mother’s wishes. She wanted to see him become a doctor, like most parents’ wishes in the Valley.

He claims that after passing his eighth grade exams, he started working at a nearby travel agency in his hometown for a miserable salary of Rs 1,500.

Working there for two months, Asif quit his job after having a heated argument with a colleague, who was highly qualified but haughty, according to Asif.

“He often made fun of me and insulted me because I didn’t necessarily have the necessary academic training for the position of computer operator,” Asif said. “I was very interested in learning computers and I had it at home, which was bought for me by my father. I developed an interest in computers after watching an interview with Bill Gates on BBC. Bill Gates is my inspiration,” he recalls.

After quitting his job, he started working at a nearby company where he spent four years (2010-15) honing and honing my skills. There I learned all the fundamentals such as graphic design, pointing, web design, etc. I then quit that job and used all the money to start a small business.

However, fate had other plans for him as the city was flooded in 2014, forcing him to use his funds to support his family, which once again left him with no money. “Our property suffered significant damage during the 2014 floods, and after periodically carrying out repairs and renovations for four years after the floods, we finally succumbed to financial pressure forcing us to sell the house in 2018,” said he added.

He claims that in April 2015, while looking for a job on OLX, he found a company called Trimax Printing and Graphics, owned by Tajindar Singh, who worked for the UK-based company in Hayes, UK. Uni, who was looking for a person. with graphic design skills.

“I was called by Trimax Printing and Graphics run by Tajindar Singh who worked for a UK based company in Hayes, UK where he says no one was doing graphic design at that time” .

After a discussion with his family, Asif accepted the offer and started working virtually for Trimax Printings and Graphic. In 2016, after the murder of Hizb commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the closure of the valley for about three months left Asif disconnected from his business.

After a few months I managed to contact Tajinder and he took me to Delhi where our business was then on the decline.

After signing the 18-month contract on the condition of a return airfare to India, Asif first set foot overseas in 2016. However, the company changed the name to Trimax Printings & Graphics in Thames Infotech on June 6, 2016. .

Asif joined Thames Infotech on June 9, 2016, which has a current valuation of Rs 5 crore. Asif is currently CEO of Thames Infotech and has around three dozen staff, including 32 in the UK and three in Kashmir.

The company provides services such as website design and development, digital marketing, graphic design, personal branding, social media management, etc.

Asif says his company is one of the best web design companies and has won awards in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 organized by ‘Three Best Rated UK’ and Best IT Service Provider 2018, 2019 hosted by “Top Developers USA.

Asif is the author of three books. In his books, he explained his belief that moving businesses online will not only preserve businesses and livelihoods, but will also accelerate the country’s economic growth.

Additionally, he offers online advice in areas such as digital marketing, website building, and entrepreneurship. Most of its clients are journalists, eager to create portals.

“I have taught students from various cities in India as well as those from the US, UK and Canada, but only 30% of the students I have taught so far are from the Kashmir,” he said.

He believed that parents should not impose their views on their children. In modern society, there is a need for professions besides doctors and engineers. They should always encourage the interests and aspirations of their children.

Asif has just launched a website soanmenu.com, where he helps all hotels and restaurants to upload their menus and receive a basic digital menu for free in the form of a QR code. It has been carefully created in line with Covid regulations including social distancing, online ordering and many more which will both help Covid generate revenue and be an important step towards digitalization.

Sheikh Asif, no doubt, is making significant efforts to transform the digital sector in the valley.

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir. He tweets at @sule_khaak. Opinions expressed are personal.

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