25-year-old Junaid Shahdar, the man behind ‘Phamb’, said that this e-commerce website will not only take the famed pashmina to global customers but the initiative is being launched for the benefit of the local artisans in Jammu and Kashmir. Phamb, is how unprocessed pashmina wool is referred to locally. Jammu and Kashmir is battling a high level of unemployment with about 7 lakh educated youth left looking for jobs. The state ranks at number 29 on the ‘ease of doing business’ indicator according to a World Bank survey, reflecting the lack of government support for new startups. “We will have around 200 products online. We hope to engage 5,000 local artisans in next three years,” said Junaid.
Though pashmina is usually associated with shawls, he said they would soon offer other pashmina products like suits, kaftans and ties. These products will take some time. Mentoring Junaid is Ejaz Ayoub, co-founder of The Silk Route Consulting Group. “Our attempt is to share tricks of doing business in a conflict zone,” said Ejaz, a banker by profession. “For example, e-shops can function even during curfews and shutdowns.” The militancy in Kashmir is affecting the business dreams of youngsters, according to him. “Any investment coming to Kashmir valley is scrutinised minutely and its purpose questioned at every step. There is need to have a mechanism to allow free-flow of investment in Kashmir without any fear and hurdles,” said Ejaz in The Hindu.
Phamb also aims to fight the business of fake pashminas. “The USP of the portal is that all pure pashmina products will come with geographical indication tags which authenticate the genuineness of the merchant,” said Ejaz. According to The Tribune, the website www.phamb.co.in was launched by Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir, Asgar Hassan Samoon at a function held in Srinagar.