Mainstreaming Muslim businesses

    By Shaik Zakeer Hussain,,

    Bangalore: Maeeshat Media’s “Bainulaqwami Maeeshat” is the country’s only magazine, which covers the economic and business affairs of the Muslim community. Since 2009 it has successfully organised the “All India Minorities Business Summit”, which brings some of the community’s leading economists and business leaders to discuss challenges and ideas faced by it, in today’s changing conditions.

    In this Interview with TCN’S Shaik Zakeer Hussain, Maeeshat Media’s founder and editor, Danish Reyaz talks about his organisation, the community’s current economic conditions in general and more.

    Danish Reyaz (TCN File photo)

    What is the idea behind Maeeshat media?

    The idea behind Maeeshat media, is to bring the Muslim community into mainstream business, both financially and economically. Across India, it has been observed that Muslims have been secluded or have brought isolation upon themselves from mainstream businesses, whereas if we look even at our recent history, we find Muslims to have a strong foothold in some of the major industries in the country. So, what are the reasons for this decline, what went wrong? Through Maeeshat media, we want to educate the Muslim community, on how they can be a part of this larger mainstream business community.

    When you speak about ‘mainstream business’, what exactly are you referring to?

    First we need to understand what mainstream is – it basically means the existing ideas and conditions accepted by the society at large. The present age, is the age of information technology, it is the age of networking, of collaboration, of sharing ideas, however, we see none of this put into practice in businesses run by Muslims in general. We see most of our businesses restricting themselves to be run by family members, we never allow outsiders to take part in it or expand it. However, when we look at the other side, we see empires being erected. Though there is no denial of great personal fortunes among some members of our community, but personal wealth does not supports the community at large.

    What do you think are the reasons behind this?

    There are some political and social reasons behind this. Let’s just take the example of places like Bhiwandi and Malegaon, which are both famous for its power-looms. Much of the economy of this demography is dependent on this industry and there is a huge number of Muslim population which resides there. There is a general apathy found in these places as far as the political establishment is concerned. There is shortage of power supply in these areas and hardly any business friendly policies in place. The machinery in use is old. And this in an area, which when the workers here recently went on a strike for ten days, independent reports suggest that the local economy suffered the loss of close to 1000 crore. As a result of this negligence, new industrial areas are emerging in other parts of Maharashtra. If the political leadership had shown a little interest, things would have been far better for people dependent on this industry.

    And apart from this, the community itself, due to its negligence and laid back attitude, has let itself slump down the development ladder.

    There is no restriction placed by the government, that only people belonging to a particular community can setup businesses, so looking at the economic plight of the community, do you find an inherent attribute within the community that has restricted itself from being part of, what you call the ‘mainstream business’?

    There are many people within the community, who have setup businesses and are hugely successful, however, most of them have not tried to be a part of the system. What I mean by that, is many of the businesses run by Muslims are mainly proprietorship, but have not created an infrastructure to make it a ‘limited company’ or a ‘public limited company’. Our people have not fulfilled the criteria of business in the present age. As far as the establishment is concerned, it usually acts on the data provided to them by organisations or representatives of different communities, perhaps we have not put our data forward in the right manner.

    So, how does your organisation intends to tackle this situation?

    One thing we do, is spread awareness about government introduced schemes in the community. How we do this, is by collecting the required data and sharing it with newspapers and journals, who we have tie-ups with. We also hold annual business summits, where we cover different topics; last year our topic was “Economic Mainstreaming of Minorities: strategies and actions” and here our distinguished delegates discussed the importance of Muslims getting themselves acquainted with the day to day changes in the market and how to adapt it in their businesses, they also discussed the importance of crisis management for a business. We created an action plan and put it forward for the government to take action. This year our topic is “Economic Mainstreaming of Minorities: Connecting Business, Technology & Finance” and will be held in Bangalore. This time we will be discussing, Job Creation in Financial Market, Role of Technology in Business, Solving working capital issues -The Shariah way, Role of Islamic Finance & Banking in promoting entrepreneurship & Employment opportunities and much more.

    The 5th All India Minorities Business Summit 2013 will be held in Bangalore on the 22nd of November at 6:30 pm at The Canopy Hotel, M.G. Road, Bangalore. You can contact Mr. Danish Reyaz on 9320995687 or email him at [email protected] for details.