A year ago, Parsi community came together to encourage young entrepreneurs and new start-ups and founded a programme to help deserving candidates with interest-free loans and a flexible payment schedule.
The India chapter of the World Zarathushti Chamber of Commerce (WZCC) tapped high net-worth individuals from the community and founded the scheme that already has three winners who are set to get Rs 25 lakh in funds each.
They will have the option to repay the interest-free loan within a span of five years depending on their business model.
“The entrepreneurship scheme is a joint attempt of WZCC and World Zoroastrian Organisation (WZO) Trust Fund. As a community, we have never believed in asking for reservations or quota. So, this is our way to encourage youngsters to be enterprising, and contribute meaningfully to the community as well as the country,” WZCC India president Captain Percy Master told Mirror.
Before being selected, the interested entrepreneurs had to go through a rigorous three-stage process spanning five months, which included their businesses being scrutinised minutely and personal interviews with the business advisory committee.
The committee comprised ten industry leaders from the Parsi community in various fields.
“Our emphasis was to select businesses that are most likely to survive among the challenges of the modern world,” said Captain Master.
One of the three recipients, 41-year-old Cyrus Pithawala, started his shipping container handling firm in 2017 from an empty yard in Surat.
“The best part of the experience, other than getting the necessary funding, was being mentored by veterans from the industry who also helped me network and cut costs,” said Cyrus, adding that he would like to return the favour to the community not only by donating to the fund but also by mentoring other youngsters in the industry.
Another recipient Dr Murzban Karai, 51, who started his manufacturing firm in Mahad MIDC in 2005 said, “I needed the funds for the expansion of my factory which produces laser grade dyes and speciality chemicals. I am happy that any entrepreneur from the community can tap into funds from the chamber.”
First-time entrepreneur and the youngest of the lot, 26-year-old Urvakhsh Tavadia had dreamt of floating his own business ever since he was in college.
“Despite getting a job in the US, I came back so that I could start something of my own, which I did in 2016 with the help of my father.” Tavadia manufactures lithium-ion batteries for e-vehicles.
“It is a fantastic endeavour by the chamber as many young people have great ideas, but have difficulty finding funds.”