A network of leading Kashmiri Diaspora businesses and entrepreneurs of J&K origin and heritage in the United Kingdom is actively working to establish Jammu Kashmir Diaspora Chamber of Commerce. This innovative initiative is supported by Kashmir Development Foundation (KDF) in partnership with Conciliation Resources to enhance business to business interactions and to explore opportunities for their development, growth and international trade and investment within all the regions of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.
A recent research study “Rejuvenating the economic environment in Jammu Kashmir” supported by the Conciliation Resources to explore opportunities for, and barriers to, trade and investment in Jammu and Kashmir suggests that Kashmiri Diaspora engagement will significantly enhance the prospects for economic regeneration in all regions of Jammu and Kashmir and in the long run, open doors for international trade and investment. This in turn is likely to contribute to the overall peace and stability of the region.
In the 2nd annual general meeting on 23rd March 2016 in Manchester the members of the Chamber agreed to formally seek membership of the British Chamber of Commerce.
Sardar Aftab Khan, Executive Director, KDF who is coordinating development of this initiative said: “Jammu Kashmir Diaspora Chamber of Commerce exists to provide opportunities for chamber members and J&K businesses community to develop sustainable networks and partnerships for their development, growth and sustained economic viability, and building peace and prosperity in Jammu Kashmir through International trade and Commerce”.
The Aims and objectives of Jammu Kashmir Diaspora Chamber of Commerce are;
To champion and represent J&K Diaspora business talent and potential on the world stage and encourage investment for economic regeneration, development of human capital and transfer of knowledge and technology for growth and sustainable development.
- To act as an infrastructure support organisation for J&K Diaspora business community to network with key institutions and stakeholders e.g. UKDTI, British Chamber of Commerce and relevant Indian and Pakistani institutions and J&K Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
- To establish Jammu Kashmir Diaspora Chamber of Commerce as a one-stop information, development and networking resource hub for international businesses and social enterprises who wish to establish trade and investment links with their potential counterparts in all the regions of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.
- To facilitate “JK Diaspora Chamber of Commerce” members visits to explore business opportunities across the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir.
- To actively engage and support women lead businesses and social enterprises
- To support at least one humanitarian aid or community development project to start meaningful engagement of J&K Diaspora entrepreneurs in the region every year.
The former Lord Mayor of Manchester Cllr Naeem ul Hassan welcoming the initiative said: “ We very much appreciate this new initiative and would extend full support for the success of this innovative idea to build peace and bring much needed international investment for economic regeneration in all the regions of Jammu Kashmir”.
Manchester City Council member Cllr Shaukat Ali highlighted the contributions of Kashmiri diaspora community and businesses in the Manchester’s local economy and said: the Jammu Kashmir Diaspora Chamber would help in getting diaspora business community united on one platform for their growth and development as well providing vital link for businesses and social enterprises from Kashmir to network with international business community”.
Tahir Aziz, Director, Conciliation Resources South Asia Programme shared key opportunities and challenges for businesses in the region and how cross LOC trade and travel in Jammu Kashmir is developing trust and confidence within local communities to engage in wider peacebuilding and conflict transformation process. He said: “the Jammu Kashmir joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a unique initiative and example for bring change and exploring solutions from within in a conflict region where generally maintaining status quo is prevalent practice of major stakeholders: India and Pakistan”. He further added that Conciliation Resources is an independent organisation working with people in conflict to prevent violence and build peace. Over the last five years, Conciliation Resources has been working with Kashmiri civil society, strengthening its capacity to play a more dynamic and proactive role in peacebuilding in the region.
Haji Akram Sattar, Chairman, Kashmir Development Foundation said: “we would welcome further input from anyone keen to support and get involved in the development of Jammu Kashmir Diaspora Chamber of Commerce”. Kashmir Development Foundation is a civil society development organisation, delivering projects and initiatives in an integrated way to help improve the life and livelihood of Kashmiris, and empower the voices of under-represented people and communities.
The meeting was attended by leading businessman and social entrepreneurs from the Northwest and Midland regions in UK and there would be three more meeting in this year in various regions of the UK to increase the membership for the achievements of the Jammu Kashmir Diaspora Chamber of Commerce aims and objectives.