Chennalode: PC Musthafa , the owner of iDFresh -an idly and dosa batter company is one of the very few Muslims of India who have managed to create a niche for themselves in the very competitive and dynamic corporate world.
His company iD started in 2005 in a 550 square feet kitchen and produced 10 packets of Idli and Dosa batter per day to be sold at local kirana stores.
10 years on, in October 2015 iD became a 100 Crore company with 1100 employees, producing 50,000 packets of Idly Dosa batter to be supplied in eight cities–Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Sharjah.
Musthafa’s own beginning was more humble than his company’s.
He was born and brought up in Chennalode, a remote village without roads and electricity. In his own words “I come from a life of poverty in Wayanad (Kerala) where my dad was a coolie, and breakfast was a luxury.”
The credit of Musthafa’s success goes to his Christian teacher Mr. Mathews. When Musthafa failed in class 6th he decided to become daily wage worker like his father, but his Maths teacher Mr. Mathews foresaw his potential and motivated his father to give Musthafa a chance and persuaded him to continue his son’s education. His father agreed. And everything changed.
Musthafa stepped out of Wayanad for the first time after completing class 10 and took admission in Farooq College in Khozikode at the suggestion and support of his father’s friend. In Farooq College he was one of the fifteen students who lived and ate on charity.
He was one of the 15 students who were offered free stay and food, as we could not afford to pay. There were four hostels in the college and they had to go to different hostels for breakfast, lunch and dinner as they were on charity’ s
Naturally, other students used to looked at them with disdain. That made Musthafa upset . It was like they were eating somebody else food. Some students made fun of them. It was not a pleasant experience, but Musthafa had to swallow the humiliation for the sake of his education.
From there he went on to do engineering from Regional Engineering College (now the National Institute of Technology), Calicut and landed his first job with Motorola in Bangalore.
Motorola soon sent him on an oversees project to UK. Next several years were spent as a corporate employee in multinational companies oversees earning handsome salaries but missing India.
In 2003 Musthafa returned to India to be with his parents, to study further and to give back to society. He wanted to provide opportunities for youngsters from villages who despite talent could not get a good break in life. The only way to do that was to become an entrepreneur.
Now that Musthafa has become the entrepreneur he wanted to become he recruits people only from rural areas, giving opportunity to youngsters who are smart, honest and committed.
Quitting a well paying job in favor of entrepreneurship was however not an easy decision.
His family was skeptical. But his cousin Nasser provided him the encouragement he needed and iD was born with him and four first cousins Nasser, Shamsu, Jaffer and Naushad.
In the partnership Musthafa had 50% shares and the other 50% was shared between the four other cousins.
Musthafa went on to do his MBA from IIM Bangalore and after its completion formally joined the iD as CEO in charge of marketing and finance in 2007.
By 2008, iD became a proper factory in Hosekote, with the help of the Karnataka State Industrial Development Council (KSIDC).
In 2012, iD expanded to Chennai, Mangaluru, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad and won Indian Achievers Award presented by Indian Economic Development and Research Association (IEDRA)
In 2013 to iD started operation in Dubai got .Big Bang Award for – Best Packaging Design in 2014.
Year 2015 saw iD getting Entrepreneur of the year in Manufacturing Business – FMCG award and Best Packaging Design award.
Most recently iD has won India Small Giants Award out of 49023 nominations.
Musthafa feels what has given iD edge over others is ‘quality control, daily replenishment in stores, technology and the people who work for him’.
Musthafa desisted from expanding iD through bank loans as dealing in ‘interest’ (riba) is forbidden in Islam ‘ he reveals while talking to Muslim Mirror.
‘Allah help always came and iD managed to survive through tough times without help of interest based funding’ he further aided .
ID also rejected one offer in which their snacks would have been used as bar snacks. About this Musthafa says “when you do something for Allah you are rewarded”
The most difficult part of his job Musthafa says is convincing customers about the natural nature of his products. He insists that iD uses no chemicals and preservatives. “Our product is 100 per cent natural. We do not use chemicals or preservatives. It is just like the home-made product.” and the batter making process is “the same that your mom uses at home, starting with the soaking”. But even his consumers who buy iD regularly don’t believe that it is completely natural.
ID has come up with a novel concept of trust shops. These are no man, no camera shops selling iD products in apartment buildings and IT parks where customers pick a product and pay by themselves. They can pay later if they want. Musthafa says about his trust shops “For us, this is a larger-than-life project. If we are able to remind, at least a few, on the positive value of trust, we have achieved the purpose.”
At the time of Chennai floods last year iD was the first corporate to step in for help. They sent truck loads of batter, paratha and chapati to Chennai for flood affected people.
In the next five to six years Musthafa hopes to make iD a 1,000 Crore company, operating in 30 cities and employing 5000 people.
Speaking of Muslim youth Musthafa says that lack of education among Muslims is the community’s greatest drawback. He feels Muslims should make effort to educate not only themselves but also their “brothers and sisters”
His advice to young aspiring entrepreneurs is that “Don’t wait for tomorrow. Take a decision today.”
Asked about his long journey across the socioeconomic spectrum, from being a poor man sons to a millionaire he says that there is enjoyment in both lives.
Courtesy: Muslim Mirror