In the bustling landscape of Kashmir’s entrepreneurial spirit, one name stands out as a testament to versatility and success – Shafat Shah.
Transitioning seamlessly from the hospitality sector to paper trading and establishing a flourishing milk factory, Shah has proven himself to be a true all-rounder in the business arena. His keen ability to spot and capitalise on diverse opportunities has not only carved a unique niche for him but has also turned his journey into an inspiring success story. Initially devoid of any formal business management qualifications to adorn his CV, Shafat Shah embarked on a journey that mirrors the trajectory of a hardcore business magnet, ascending from humble beginnings to constructing his empire.
Born into a family entrenched in the textile business, Shah opted for an unconventional path, steering away from the well-trodden footsteps of his ancestors. Reflecting on his dynamic approach, Shah, with a cheerful demeanour in his expansive office nestled in the uptown area of Hyderpora, shares, “I am a restless soul, and I believe that’s a trait every businessman in Kashmir must possess.” This restlessness, coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit, has been the driving force behind Shah’s remarkable rise in the business realm.
With a burning ambition to venture into a new business, Shafat Shah found himself captivated by the workings of a milk plant during a visit to Mumbai decades ago. The seed of starting his own milk factory was sown in his mind, and the prospect materialised when he explored the avenues at the Jammu and Kashmir State Industrial Development Corporation (JKSIDCO) office.
Recalling those days, Shah reminisces with a smile, highlighting the significant role that SIDCO played as an incubation centre for budding entrepreneurs. In contrast to the present, he notes that SIDCO back then provided valuable ideas and project reports to support aspiring business minds.
Undeterred by the scepticism surrounding the feasibility of his venture, Shah took on the challenge of establishing the Zum Zum brand in Kashmir. The year 2008 marked the establishment of the Zum Zum Milk Processing Plant at the Industrial Growth Centre in Lassipora, Pulwama. Shah candidly shares, “The beginning was tough, as is often the case with most startups.”
Determined to overcome the initial hurdles, Shah recalls his relentless commitment, saying, “I was unwavering. I used to leave at 5 in the morning and visit nearby villages to procure milk. My routine extended from 5 in the morning until 10 in the evening.” His dedication bore fruit, and the Zum Zum Milk Processing Plant, which initially faced challenges, now supplies a substantial 20,000 to 30,000 litres of milk to the market in Kashmir.
Today, Zum Zum milk products stand as a well-established brand, a testament to Shah’s perseverance and faith.
He didn’t stop there, recognising the immense potential that Kashmir’s natural beauty holds for tourism, Shafat Shah decided to diversify his business ventures into the hospitality sector. In 2016, he laid the foundation for Hotel Heritage Luxury in Peerbagh. Unyielding in his pursuit, Shah continued to expand his footprint in the hospitality industry by establishing another property, Hotel Lavilasta, and acquiring Hotel Palm Spring in the ensuing years. With three distinctive properties in the hospitality sector, he has undoubtedly etched his name into the fabric of Kashmir’s flourishing tourism industry.
Shafat Shah’s entrepreneurial journey not only reflects his success but also highlights his commitment to community and employment generation. Currently, his various business ventures collectively provide employment opportunities to 230 individuals. Shah acknowledges the pivotal role played by his dedicated workforce, considering them an integral pillar in the foundation of his successful journey.
Amidst the prosperity of his hospitality ventures, Shah astutely identified another opportunity, this time in the horticulture sector. Leveraging the infrastructure of his milk plant in Lassipora, which houses numerous Cold Storage (CA) facilities and corrugated boxes for apple packing, he seized the chance to make a significant impact.
Shah elaborates, “As my milk plant in Lassipora Industrial estate which houses many CA stores and corrugated boxes manufacturing units for apple packing, I saw it as an opportunity. Early unit holders used to import raw material, corrugated paper for use. I struck a deal with the factory and started importing the paper. Today, I supply around 70 to 80 percent of the paper used in the corrugated manufacturing units in Kashmir.” This strategic move not only showcased Shah’s business acumen but also positioned him as a key player in the horticulture supply chain of the region.
Beyond his ventures in the hospitality and horticulture sectors, Shafat Shah has expanded his business portfolio by establishing a bread manufacturing unit, ZumZum Food Products, in Lassipora. This diversification underscores Shah’s dynamic approach to entrepreneurship, showcasing his ability to identify and capitalise on opportunities in various industries.
As a seasoned entrepreneur with a multifaceted business empire, Shah offers valuable advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Emphasising the importance of a positive mindset and unwavering dedication, he encourages individuals to think positively and work diligently to achieve their goals in life. Shah’s journey, marked by resilience and continuous adaptation, serves as an inspiring testament to the potential for success that lies within the entrepreneurial spirit.
Shafat Shah’s entrepreneurial journey not only reflects his success but also highlights his commitment to community and employment generation.
Currently, his various business ventures collectively provide employment opportunities to 230 individuals.