By Kamran Ahmed
Israr started his business in 2003 with the help of his brothers. He was revered as one of the leaders in the restaurant business sector in the area until his business growth became stagnant for some time in 2010 and gradually ran in troubles by the start of 2013.
“The uncertain political situation, coupled with the unstable security situation and militancy in Pakistan scared away international tourists,” says Israr, whose entire family counts on the income earned through the restaurant business. “Moreover, the lack of means to develop domestic and international business pushed my restaurant to the verge of permanent closure.”
Just when things were turning for the worst, a friend told him that the Karakoram Area Development Organization (KADO) has opened up an i-Tech Training Center in the nearby village Gulmit, where young men and women will be getting training in e-marketing.
The next day Israr filed an application for the training in e-marketing and got selected. Blogging, social media marketing, search engine optimization and online business development were new things for him. But, almost half way through the training, he launched an e-marketing campaign aimed to attract tourists to the area and revitalize his restaurant business.
“I was almost a month into the training and had learned lots of e-marketing strategies,” says Israr. “I started a blog and created a Facebook page for my restaurant. It was very innovative and interesting way to promote my business. I am now connected to my past customers and potential customers through my business page on Facebook.”
Israr says he has many loyal customers who especially “love his apricot cake.” Besides apricot cake, the Glacier Breeze Restaurant offers a wide assortment of unique, traditional dishes.
“My restaurant is the only one in the region that has apricot cake on its menu. I am especially promoting my apricot cake through my Facebook page and am also blogging about it. I can see the statistics like how many people visit my blog, where they come from and other demographics- all in real time. People also inquire about my products and services through my Facebook page.”
As Israr drifted towards the end of his e-marketing training, he says he observed improvement in sales of his business. His loyal customers, a majority of whom come from Europe, refer potential tourists to his Facebook page and blog. Israr tells with a high degree of confidence that people who like his Facebook page are going to visit his restaurant someday.
Israr’s brothers Ahmed Ali and Tanveer Ahmed assist him in managing the day to day affairs of the restaurant, which is situated in a beautiful, natural setting on a hill top in front of Passu glacier- overlooking Passu village.
Israr says he is soon going to launch a website for his business.
KADO is a pioneer to provide fast and reliable satellite down-link Internet connectivity to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan besides offering a range of free trainings, such as e-marketing, resource mobilization, web designing and web development. The project, funded by GIZ, has so far helped many young entrepreneurs, like Israr, to establish, revitalize and grow their business.
“I would like to thank KADO for providing me new skills that have helped me in rejuvenating my business,” says Israr. “I would recommend every potential and existing entrepreneur to give e-marketing a try. I have found the Internet a very powerful marketing tool. You would see amazing, magical results.”