After quitting his unsatisfactory private job some five years back, 27-year-old FarhanSangeen left for a Bangalore trip to get a break. There he made up his mind to start his own entrepreneurial venture.
The trip became a reason for him to do something out of the box. As the eyes of a jobless Farhan fell on a hiking equipment store in Bangalore. Farhan thought why the same idea can’t be replicated in Kashmir, a place which is full of mountains and adventure sport has a huge potential.
Farhan says with no expertise over five years ago in the field, he was jumping into unknown territory and never thought of getting a breakthrough. After hiking through the ups and downs of the profession, he finally set his business on track.
“I’m myself a nature lover and a trekking enthusiast but had no expertise in turning it into business at first. After much deliberation I thought of selling the trekking equipment will have a good scope. Hiking is a growing trend in Kashmir with local and non-local a market that is how the idea of ‘Hook Hike Kashmir’ came,” Farhan said.
Farhan faced a setback at the beginning as he got little response to selling hiking equipment. He now tried to rent the same equipment that he had bought to sell.
“I initially rented it to my friends and relatives and used my personal social media accounts and also started organizing hiking tours thereby turning it into a trekking club also,” he added.
Farhan’s ‘Hook Hike Kashmir’ is now one among the many new breeds of growing trekking clubs in Kashmir. These clubs have provided another way of income for many people. In recent years young Kashmiris are using online tools to organize trekking tours, give equipment on rentals as the trend of hiking Kashmir’s beautiful landscape is growing day by day.
With the growing business, Farhan has recently opened an outlet in Rajbagh area of Srinagar to rent equipment and coordinate trekking tours.
“Earlier I was doing my work without a physical store but with the good response, I opened a physical outlet. This has a good potential and the profession can provide a livelihood to many youngsters who are interested in it,” he added.
Farhan’s entrepreneurial journey has come a long which started from renting his two tents through his Facebook and now renting dozens of tents and other hiking equipment.
Farhan says that his passion, support of friends, family, and urge to learn has played a vital role in his business. Farhan is collaborating with well known trekking clubs of Kashmir and organizing many events related to mountain hiking.
“I have collaborated with All J&K mountaineering foundation and others where we have organized trekking camps and other events. Such clubs have added to my knowledge and made me a better professional,” he said.
Farhan is organizing camps to mountain peaks and high-altitude alpine lakes in Kashmir. He said that there is a lot to explore in this field both as a trekker and as an entrepreneur.
Farhan says that the trend of trekking and exploring high altitude lakes in Kashmir has grown and both local and non-local hikers are visiting places like Gangbal, Tulian, Tarsar, Marsar, and dozens like these.
Farhan said that while earning from these trips, he thinks that as responsible professionals we should take care of the environment as well.
“It breaks my heart when I see some trekkers littering around these eco-sensitive places like lakes and mountains. With the increased flow of visitors, some places have really become polluted. Everyone should be responsible in this regard. Professionals like us have to do their bit to spread awareness on the issue otherwise these unique places will be destroyed forever,” Farhan said.
A few days back Hook Hike Kashmir organized a cleanliness drive with some business outlets and biking clubs. In the event, around two dozen bikers traveled to Doodpathri in Budgam and held a cleanliness campaign while collecting the waste from the area. Farhan has also been part of many anti-drug awareness campaigns. “I believe that in addition to doing business, it is our responsibility to give back to society,”
With Farhan’s business finally picking-up post multiple lockdowns, Farhan is thinking of expanding and opening another branch in the Ganderbal district.
He also wants to rent vehicles for people interested in visiting tough terrains of Kashmir like Ladakh. Farhan says that if one is passionate about what he does he won't have to rely on government jobs; rather , youth can start their own business and be job providers rather than job seekers.