Resolute, Stalwart and Insightful
Growing up in the suburbs of Mumbai in Mumbra, Zulfikar Kalangi gained his education up to the 8th standard in IPCL School which is now known as Reliance School, Nagothane. He and his family had shifted to Nagothane village about 90 km from Mumbai where his father started his trading business in partnership with two others. For higher education, his parents sent him to Bangalore in 2000 where he studied in Baldwin Boys High School, where later his parents shifted as well. Soon after relocating his father met with a fatal road accident and underwent multiple surgeries. This incident changed the lives of each of his family members even though his father survived, as he was no longer the same. Zulfikar was forced to work part-time during his school years at the age of 15 where he had barely five rupees in his pocket and a cycle to commute. Then he travelled for 25kms on his cycle and got his first trading order worth Rs.5000/- from a Bangalore-based industry. In standard 10th he started working full time and ventured into the safety/PPE trading business.
Zulfikar stated PPE trading back in 2003 aged 16, after dropping out of high school. PPE industry had just started to take flight in India at that point and starting young had its own benefits as it helped him to learn after failing and making mistakes. “I could learn quickly. I was always good at languages and was always fluent in English, Hindi, Gujarati & Marathi. I started learning the local language Kannada in 2003. Now I can speak fluently although I cannot read or write.” He exclaims how initially he faced numerous obstacles and did not have enough money to travel by bus.
During the pandemic in 2020, his business faced troubles with brands that could not keep up with fulfilling the orders he placed and so he decided to become self-sufficient and decided to launch his own product range under his own brand. SafeKraft was hence found and has brought up more than 100 products to the market in less than 18 months. Their strategy is simply to limit the number of SKUs to less than 150 so that it is easy for them to maintain sufficient stocks and fulfill orders they receive from their clients. His brand covers all PPE safety products, conforms to various standards, and is also BIS Certified. Heavy investment in testing, R&D and certifications have been put forward by SafeKraft.
“What is life without new challenges? The struggle is good as it teaches you a lot of things and helps you to value your assets. One must always be content with what he/she has because there are many who are much less privileged. SafeKraft being a start-up has definitely had a toll on my personal life but this is a good struggle and something which may help us catapult ourselves into the big league.” Zulfikar and his wife, who is also the creative director at SafeKraft, invest their time in building SafeKraft. However, they chart out enough time to spend with their two children.
At SafeKraft, young enterprising people who are hard-working and ambitious strive each day to achieve greater heights and have made the startup a success story. Indian and Multi-National Companies have joined hands over a period of time and Zulfikar believes in moving ahead, not thinking much. Work has always been his passion, and he defines himself as a workaholic. He believes in delivering the best possible product to help minimize injuries at work. This motto helps him keep moving ahead whilst providing spotless customer service.
COVID-19 was devastating but luckily he was able to manage during the pandemic, shuffling between helping the needy, attending to the problems of his housing society (as he was a secretary of the association) and also building SafeKraft. Zulfikar works with a never-say-die attitude and believes strongly that there is no substitute for hard work. He claims “I have built my life around the 4D’s – Discipline, Dedication, Devotion & Determination. My limited academic background never deterred me from doing what I always wanted for I always believed that education is beyond books & schools.” He parts with the wisdom that not many can even afford what we as people possess and people must inculcate the same thoughts in younger ones as well. Also, people must never shy away from starting-up new businesses and must have the willpower and determination to continue their journey.
SafeKraft’s enthusiastic entrepreneur with immense dedication and discipline has worked endlessly towards his motto and passion for his business. Zulfikar Kalangi is proudly introduced to our magazine’s special edition ‘The Most Admired Global Indians’ for bringing a revolution in the PPE business.