Jammu and Kashmir [India]: Some business owners only achieve success after excelling in a different line of work. They either achieve success as consultants or executive officers before using the skills to launch their own company, or they launch a firm with little funding and absolutely no prior experience by relying on trial and error.
34-year-old Jibran Khan is one such example. Jibran has had a deep love for travel since he was a child. After finishing his 12th-grade studies in tourism, he decided to graduate and pursue his love. But his parents were of a different opinion and advised him to look for secure employment. This prompted Jibran to join a Chandigarh-based MNC IT firm.
However, soon enough he returned to his hometown Bandipora and launched a tour and travel business that caters to travellers interested in visiting Gurez out of a desire to work for Kashmir tourism. But, as a result of the unfavourable conditions Kashmir experienced on and off, it became a transient affair.
Once again, Jibran left Kashmir on the recommendation of his parents and joined another MNC in Dubai. But, his enthusiasm prevented him from remaining in the city of dreams and gold, despite having well-paying work and a nice lifestyle there. He quit his second job at the end of 2017 and went back to Kashmir to pursue his interests.
He started looking into alternative business opportunities since he believed that the environment in Kashmir was unfavourable for tourists. When his cousin Javid Ahmad Mohroo suggested him to start a cafe.
He along with his cousin’s team decided to open Zero Miles – Grill & Cafe in the apple town Sopore after extensive research and deliberation.
Once Zero Miles has grown to become a brand with franchise locations in every town in North Kashmir, Jibran has no intention of turning back from here.
Encouraged by the venture’s success, Jibran has also opened a second location in his birthplace of Bandipora.
‘I became interested in the culinary industry due to Kashmir’s recent emergence as a destination for dining out. In order to avoid travelling to Srinagar to find these venues and foods, my aim was to give the youth of the north an environment that matches their tastes,’ he said.
Jibran is not the type of person to give up easily. Even after the Covid-19 lockdown put an end to commerce in Kashmir, one year after Zero Miles’ establishment, Jibran has continued to open more stores in other sections of North Kashmir with each passing year.
Currently, Zero Miles has six franchise locations, with two more being built.
‘Profit and loss is a part of business, but positivity and patience throughout the years have played a significant role in getting me to where I am now,’ he says.
Jibran claims that the superior food that Zero Miles serves to its customers sets apart his chain of eateries from other places in the valley.
‘The passion and effort our team puts into developing new food concepts that transform everything into gold,’ he said.
Until a few years ago, the only places to get good food with quality service were in Srinagar city. Jibran expanded this idea to northern towns by opening his first location in Sopore before expanding it elsewhere.
‘My goal is to spread the franchise to further towns, thus I launched it in Sopore before moving on to other regions of the north. Unlike the majority of franchises, ours will be the first to expand from town to town,’ he said.
For many young people who desire to pursue their aspirations, Jibran Khan serves as a true inspiration, being a Bandipora native who self-taught himself and has mastered every necessary entrepreneurial skill.
The company, which began with only two people, currently employs 40 people to manage the franchise, and source raw materials for the company’s different locations.
Jibran is a messiah for not only to those 40 people but also to 40 different families who are working at his outlets and earning a handsome salary.
‘I ran from pillar to post in search of a job and I don’t want young ones to suffer like that. My basic motive behind starting the food chain was to generate avenues for employment besides serving quality food,’ he added.
Jibran recently started his sixth outlet in the Handwara area of north Kashmir.
He now employs 40 other educated unemployed people, who are also earning their daily living at his Units, and has switched from being a job seeker to being a job supplier.
His efforts serve as a lesson for the younger generation, particularly for the educated youth who are chasing after government jobs rather than realising the wealth of options that are available to them to make a living. If they adopt a fresh perspective towards their future, they may also switch from being job seekers to being employment suppliers.
In a message to youth, Jibran said that difficulty is a part and parcel of life but one should never look towards the failures or the bitter past but simply move forward and ensure you overcome the difficulties.
‘We are no less experienced or motivated but we need to stay dedicated towards our job, our passion. We can do wonders and be employment generators if we are dedicated towards our goal and society,’ Jibran added.
He said that the youth of Kashmir must come forward and explore new avenues in business and prove their mettle.
Jibran said that the government is providing a plethora of opportunities and avenues for the youth of Kashmir and youth should avail such opportunities to excel in their life and be the change-makers in society.