Rifah as a catalytic agent to promote businesses through networking

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By S. Ameenul Hasan

HYDERABAD — More than 300 entrepreneurs, some with an annual turnover of Rs. 100 crore, took part in a day-long Rifah Business Summit and Networking Meet at the Shah Convention on Lakdi ka Pul Road here three days ago. Several others from diverse businesses, including small startups and beginners, also attended the meet.

The meet was organised by the Rifah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), a networking group to promote business and trade as also to provide guidance and counselling about how to set up new businesses and expand the existing ones. The Rifah was set up in 2015 by a group of committed entrepreneurs with the objective of restructuring the economic system.

The efforts of Rifah has been quite successful which is evident from the number of participants in its Hyderabad summit where participation was through payment though a nominal amount of Rs. 500 per participant.

There were many young entrepreneurs having taken part in the meet. One individual introduced himself as a student pursuing an Aalim(Islamic scholar) course, a Hafiz, and engaged in the oil business. His aim is to supply healthy, chemical-free products like groundnut oil and to trade organic coconut oil.

Another participant, under the age of 30, was involved in the furniture business. He initially started with an online business, which yielded encouraging results. Subsequently, he expanded into a large furniture showroom. He received counselling from Rifah about how to expand his business.

Another young businessman, also an Aalim, completed a 12 km cycle track with a solar-panel roof, a project he secured through Rifah. The project was valued at Rs 80 lakhs.

A seasonal mango businessman shared that he initially had only one garden but now owns five, producing 25 varieties of organic mangoes.

Thanks to Rifah, he has established a wide network of customers. He directly supplies them, eliminating the need for commission agents or city outlets. The day he posted a video in the Rifah group showcasing the mango varieties, he received an overwhelming response by evening. He now directly delivers mangoes from his farm to his customers.

Another young engineer shared his story of choosing to pursue business instead of working as an average tech worker. He entered the soft drinks market, aiming to meet the increased demand following Israel’s aggression on Palestine.

Leveraging the ideas and network provided by Rifah, he branded his drinks and made progress. However, he faces marketing challenges and needs counselling. Rifah has arranged for professional counsellors to support upcoming entrepreneurs like him.

A similar story came from a soap and detergent business owner who identified a gap in the demand for genuine liquid detergent due to Israel’s atrocities. He found Rifah to be an excellent platform to launch and expand his business in Telangana. He assured that his products match the quality of branded items and that he can supply them at half the cost of those products.

Durrani Enterprises, originally focused on rock salt as a traditional business, received guidance from Rifah to transform into a company, complete with branding, packaging, and marketing strategies. Utilizing Rifah’s platform, they successfully scaled up their business. Now, their products are presented attractively in packaging, and the owner is recognized as an emerging young entrepreneur.

Another notable example of Rifah Connect’s impact is a young entrepreneur in digital marketing, social media marketing, and website design who secured numerous projects. He has now established himself as a seasoned professional.

These kinds of programs also elevate the morale and confidence of entrepreneurs who find themselves at crossroads after experiencing setbacks and failures.

The main session was led by Rifah’s central leaders. Mirza Afzal Baig, general secretary, stressed the importance of advancing one’s business beyond basic satisfaction. He highlighted that entrepreneurs should aspire for more and recognize their social responsibility to uplift the community and contribute to the country’s GDP growth.

Mr. Mumtaz Mansoori, the state president of the Karnataka chapter and a prominent businessman in embedded systems for advanced military applications, spoke about Rifah’s substantial contributions in guiding the business community.

Lastly, Rifah Chairman S. Ameenul Hasan extensively discussed how Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a great entrepreneur who began his career at the age of 18. He started as a supervisor, then a manager of others’ businesses, and eventually became a renowned businessman, earning the titles of The truthful and The trustworthy. His remarkable journey from modest beginnings to affluence is mentioned in the Holy Quran.

He then highlighted the dire situation of Muslims in Hyderabad and Telangana. Only 2-3% of the minority community have an annual income of up to Rs 25 lakh or more, while 10-15% earn between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, and 20% have an annual income between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh. According to the 2011 census, Muslims comprised 12.68% of Telangana’s population, amounting to 4.465 million individuals, with 1.713 million in Hyderabad district alone, constituting 43.5% of the district’s population (Government of Telangana, 2015). The data reveals that 29.7% of Muslims are illiterate, 44.3% live in pucca houses, and 43.1% reside in homes made of tin or asbestos sheets. Additionally, around 77.3% of Muslims live in rented houses. Many Muslim women work in low-paying jobs such as bangle making, sanitation, tailoring, rag picking, domestic work, teaching, and other wage labour. More than 900,000 Muslims live in the 770 notified slums within the Hyderabad Urban Agglomeration. These data testify to the significant responsibility Rifah members have in working towards the community’s upliftment. It is essential not to lose sight of the abundant business opportunities available.

Towards the end of his keynote address, he highlighted several innovative solutions. He emphasized that Rifah members should utilize the Urban Poverty Reduction Strategy (UPRS) by leveraging local government resources such as MDC, MSME, startups, and clusters. Additionally, he suggested that the Rifah Telangana chapter should engage government agencies for capacity building of the stakeholders.

Emphasizing adequate economic opportunities for the urban poor, Mr Hasan proposed a six-point plan to encourage people to take to businesses to come out of poverty:

  1. Raising awareness through community participation, such as khutbas (sermons ) and college lectures.
  2. Conducting short-term and long-term entrepreneurship development programs.
  3. Building partnerships by organizing networking programs.
  4. Focusing on capacity building for Rifah members.
  5. Enhancing the accessibility and availability of finance by ensuring businessmen meet statutory requirements to obtain funding.
  6. Providing microcredit services to the poor through microfinance credit cooperative societies.

Two introductory videos were also circulated at the meet. One from national chairman S Ameenul Hasan encouraging businesspeople to participate in the event, and another from Majid Sahab, the owner of Pista House in Hyderabad, who also urged businesspeople to attend the networking meet and reap its benefits.

The event had a few sponsors who were given the opportunity to introduce their products during the main session attended by national leaders. They also had counters to display their products, and their logos were featured on the banner on the stage.

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