Saleem Asraf Syed Imdaadullah, Founder, Syed Envo Protect (I) Pvt Ltd
” explains Saleem. “This is encouraging the use of natural compost instead of chemical fertilizer. Chemical fertilizer is the basic source of many diseases in humans. Western countries are going back to organic manure again.”
Leading a team of nine at his Delhi office, Saleem has expanded his operations over the years to open branches in Guwahati, Chennai and Lucknow. With a year-on-year growth of 5 per cent, it is this young entrepreneur’s dream to open a branch in every Indian state by 2010. “It’s the challenge and the power of creating something new everyday,” that drives Saleem to consider expansion plans even at a globally slow economic time.
Challenges have come in plenty for Saleem, and he’s learnt it the hard way, arguably the only way for successful entrepreneurship. “My biggest challenge was taking up an Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) waste water treatment plant project of the scale of 20 lakh litres per day capacity. This was a project worth Rs.1.2 crores that I took up at a time when I did not know even the rudiments of UASB. I contacted eminent consultants in Delhi College of Engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University, and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. All of them refused to help me out. Then I took the plunge and started visiting many UASB plants designed by others and took an annual maintenance contract with one such plant. There I got first hand experience of an UASB system, its problem areas, the mistakes that consultants normally make. I learned from the bottom up. That project took a whole year of my life. But now I don’t need anybody to design an UASB system. There are very few consultants who are successful in UASB. Now, we are one of them.”
Saleem started small, using his savings from lectureship as seed money to set up Envo Protect. “Nobody has helped me out with money till date. I bought a second hand moped with Rs. 1800 to move around in Delhi and got my first consultancy fees of Rs. 5000 for designing an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) in 1994.” It’s been a long journey from there to projects worth crores, and this is where Saleem’s success is noteworthy.
Saleem is also the President of Green Shield, an NGO with operations in Delhi, UP, Haryana and the North-East. Green Shield has been a trendsetter in many conservationist and pollution control exercises. They provide free vocational training in operating effluent and sewage treatment plants. As the only institution offering such courses in India, Green Shield creates employment opportunities for youth from socially and economically backward areas through its courses.
“We have provided technical expertise to Engineering Diploma holders from Assam and helped them in getting jobs outside the North Eastern states. This programme was sponsored by the government Of Assam. It created an opportunity for the educated youth of insurgency-hit Assam to get assimilated into the mainstream work force of India,” says Saleem. Free eye check-ups at nursery schools in the slums of Delhi, and highly technical guidance in environmental engineering to NGOs in rural areas are some of the other achievements of Green Shield. “Waste-to-wealth technology” – unique methods adopted to convert municipal waste into usable resources is a prime objective of the NGO.
The number of hits on Saleem’s blog (www.saleemindia.blogspot.com) is proof of the growing popularity of his enterprise. “I am getting calls from all over India and abroad for technical help,” he smiles. Training and experience are the keys to successful entrepreneurship, in his opinion. “And there is no shortcut to hard work,” he signs off.