Srinagar, Oct 27 : Finding mention in Prime Minister, Narendra Modis 'Mann Ki Baat has brought the 45-year-old Manzoor Ahmad Allie into limelight whose humble beginning will inspire scores of locals in future.
Speaking exclusively to IANS, Manzoor went down the memory lane to recall the hardships his family has faced to realise the dream to own a Rs one crore enterprise that employs over 100 people today.
"I only realised after the Prime Minister mentioned my work in the 'Mann Ki Baat' that I had finally been recognised as an achiever.
"I was born in Oukhoo village of Pulwama district in 1976. My father, Abdul Aziz Allie worked as a timber loader at a local depot where he earned Rs 100 to 150 per day.
"The daily earnings of my father were too meagre to support the family that included my parents, my younger brother and sister besides me.
"I passed my 10th class exam in 1996 and decided to join my father as a timber loader to augment the family income.
"In 1997, we sold a piece of ancestral land which fetched us Rs 75,000. I persuaded by father to start a bandsaw where we initially made fruit boxes out of soft Poplar wood".
Manzoor said the turning point in his life came in 2012 when he went to Jammu where he met the owners of a pencil manufacturing company.
"They showed interest in buying pencil making blocks from our village which is known for its soft, moist wood Poplar trees.
"I started making pencil blocks along with my father and brother, Abdul Qayoom Allie.
"The pencil company owners said our blocks were of excellent quality and they wanted us to supply the same in large numbers", he recalled.
This was the time when Manzoor engaged 15 locals to help meet the demand of his buyers.
"The owners of the pencil company told me I should buy some modern machines those would help meet the growing demand.
"There was heavy curtailment of electricity in our area. Electric supply would start at 10 p.m. and last till 5 a.m. the next day.
"This was the reason that our entire family ate dinner at 6 p.m. to prepare for our nocturnal working hours.
"In the meantime, I approached the local J&K bank branch in Kakapora town from where I got a loan of Rs 3 lakh for the generator and Rs 6 lakh as the working capital.
"This was the turning point. We grew by leaps and bonds. Today I own a Rs one crore enterprise that provides employment to over 100 locals.
"Despite all this success, my father, me and my brother continue to work manually with our employees.
"I have decided to groom my two sons for the same business which has promising future potential", he said.
Today, pencils made of the Poplar wood supplied by Manzoor are available in 77 countries where they are sold under different Indian brand names.
Manzoor is fondly known as 'Manzoor Pencil' in his home district today, but for the family the journey has not be a cakewalk.
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-- The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text