Lakshmi Kothaneth –
I came across a training centre recently. It was in the open air in the Wilayat of Sur. While there are courses on entrepreneurship and seminars on innovation, here the sessions go on every day.
This is the open market for farmers where elders share anecdotes and handle the money, while the youth manage the sales and marketing. Suppliers bring their crops and customers rush in to buy the produce. They know the sellers and the products, so there is not much of bargaining here.
This is where I met Habib Juma al Zadjali. He had worked in an oil company in Saudi Arabia as well as other organisations. He speaks many languages which have come in handy after he started his business.
It is not just his language skills that was impressive. Listening to him talk about his experience was quite enlightening.
Losing thousands all of a sudden shows the unpredictable nature of business, but how one responds to it determines the success or failure of a businessman.
He explained how he lost it all when a shipment of fish produce was affected. But he wasn’t going to give up. He went on to drive taxis and reached a point where he could buy trailers. He drives one and has hired two drivers to manage the other trailer. The only difference is he now handles agricultural produce. His network is bigger. He supplies farm produce to many markets.
I learnt perseverance and the importance of willpower from Ami Habib. He could have easily given up, but he did not. He can call it a day and say it is time to retire. But not Uncle Habib because he has got his number on his trailer. And that, to me, is a sign of hope. He is expecting calls. Calls for his transport services.
He quickly tells us to click a picture of him pointing at the number on the trailer. Here, he was using the marketing tools. We agreed, because there was something to learn from him. When he said, “I lost all my money,” my response was, “How?” “Why?”
He had answers to all the questions. His biggest achievement was that he never gave up.
And yes, he has not forgotten fishery export. When the time is right, he will take the next step.
“Age matters when it comes to financial assistance,” he said, looking far ahead and slightly disappointed. But he looks immediately back with a twinkle in his eyes and says, “But I have children and I will guide them.”
Life can throw many surprises and challenges at Uncle Habib but he will keep finding solutions. Is it because of a positive outlook? Was he trained like that? Or is it his nature?
He is a problem-solver.
Is it not time we found successful traders who operate in the traditional sector but are very much part of modern world. They can be perfect business models and assisting them with the latest technology can take them places.
Life is not just about training in schools and universities. It is what you do with the knowledge gained in the centres of education. Stepping into a workplace is one of the first steps in the real world.
This is where one will continue to find teachers. The journey can be tough or easy, but it will be full of experiences.
In my journey, I continue to meet people of inspiration and each day is full of notes.
On this day, I have fond memories of working with my seniors, especially Uncle Jawad Ibrahim. He was a teacher all through. I remember going with him as part of the media team during Oman India Week.
A veteran cameraman, Uncle Jawad was full of energy and he called the shots no matter where. I remember we were ready to start the press conference when he called the shots to stop and begin. That was Uncle Jawad. Travelling with him to the interior or covering news stories was a great learning experience.
He liked living life to the fullest. There were documentaries, films, books and ideas. In his own way, he taught me to be inspired.
He left this week forever, and I just want to say thank you!