Here’s how AM Zafer Ameer revolutionised the cloth bag industry

Image Credit : Special Arrangement/Manorama Online

AM Zafer Ameer’s inspiring life story is a fabulous tale of strength, courage and strong resolve to succeed in life. He has turned failures into an incredible saga of success that is worth emulating. Born in 1989 at Venjaramoodu in Thiruvananthapuram, Zafer completed his education at the government high school in his hometown. He then joined for the BTech computer engineering course at the Muslim Association Engineering College here. Even though he completed the course the 2011, he could pass only in 2012 as he had a backlog of papers to clear.

The one year that Zafer lost due to the ‘suppli’ had turned out to be a turning point in his life. He decided to work and earn while preparing for the exams. An NGO called ‘Health Action for People’ had paved the way for it. Zafer was already active in social work as he was a member of the National Service Scheme at college. He says with a smile that it must be the reason why he didn’t pass all the papers in the first go.

Zafer worked as a project assistant at Health Action for People for a year. After completing engineering, he enrolled for MBA at the Institute of Management under the University of Kerala. He even grabbed 17th rank in the entrance exam. However, Zafer had to drop out of the course after six months due to financial constraints in the family. He then started working in a small company at Technopark. In 2014, Zafer moved to Alliance, a noted IT firm there.

Zafer had been running a business of cloth bags even while working with Health Action for People. He succeeded in promoting cloth bags at the iconic International Film Festival of Kerala that is held in Thiruvananthapuram. He continued the business by collecting bags from the Kudumbasree while working at Alliance.

It was in 2016 that the Thiruvananthapuram municipality took the historic decision to go plastic free. The authorities had aimed to implement this project in three months. Zafer became a major partner in this initiative. He quit his job at the Technopark to become part of this fabulous project. He travelled to Tamil Nadu to collect cloth bags to be sold at Thiruvananthapuram. He was able to sell up to 1 lakh cloth bags in a month.

Image Credit : Special Arrangement/Manorama Online

The youngster also started a company called ‘Sanchi Bags’ to produce specialised bags. Zafer who had sold his cloth bags in front of film festival venues years ago, became the supplier of the official delegate bags for the 25th edition of the prestigious festival. Zafer’s parents cut the raw materials at the unit in Venjaramoodu. Meanwhile, the bags are stitched by various Kudumbasree units in the locality. He has now begun producing pens that are filled with seeds. He had trained differently abled people in pen making, providing them a decent source of income.

Many had tried to dissuade Zafer saying that a BTech graduate shouldn’t waste his life selling bags. However, Zafer, his parents and his wife Athira who is an MTech holder are keen to run this successful business. His office at Panavila junction is a gallery of unique items that are often gifted by those who visit the store. The customers could also buy custom made soaps and decorative pebbles at Zafer’s store.

More than just running a successful business, there is a social angle to Zafer’s enterprises. He is someone who has turned the tables to change his failures into successes. He believes that losses and failures are just temporary. Zafer’s life and career shows that stepping towards success with excitement and confidence is the only way to overcome the hardships.

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