As they say, many have sight, but only a few are blessed with vision. And fewer are the ones who really combine vision with venture and climb the stairs instead of merely staring at the steps, as eminent Czech statesman Vaclav Havel once put it. One such rare gem of purest ray serene was Ansif Ashraf, the Editor-in-Chief and helmsman of Cochin Herald; the owner of London-based news portal and magazine British Herald and Asian Herald, the soon-to-be-launched UAE-based online news platform. He made waves in the media industry and the entrepreneurial world armed with grit, foresight and oodles of self-confidence. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that chronicles can be written about this astute visionary’s jaw-dropping entrepreneurial journey starting from Kochi and spanning Britain, China and the UAE. He achieved so much in so little time and was eyeing more brands around the world to bring to the Herald stable when fate with her abhorred shears cut short his life on January 27, 2021. He was only 37. Cochin Herald takes readers through the fascinating saga of its guiding star.
A foretaste of the media industry
Born in Thane, Maharashtra, on November 15, 1983, to Dr Sheikh Mohammed Ashraf and Naseem Ashraf, Ansif had a good multi-lingual and multi-cultural exposure which stood him in good stead later on in life. It also helped him develop a broad outlook and see the world sans blinkers, something essential for an entrepreneur and media honcho. His first tryst with the media industry happened in his hometown in the early 90s. After relocating to Kochi, his father was instrumental in establishing Cochin Herald, a Sunday newspaper in Malayalam on November 1, 1992. He watched with awe and curiosity how Dr Mohammed deftly balanced the roles of managing director and editor-in-chief. The newspaper was the voice of the voiceless of the port city and carried articles aimed at the development of Kochi. Unfortunately, he had to step down following certain issues with the management a few years later. This painful episode remained etched in the mind of Ansif who vowed to be at the helm of Cochin Herald one day.
Making of an entrepreneur
Right from childhood, Ansif was determination personified and he admired his father a lot. It was Dr Mohammed who instilled in his eldest son the lofty principles and ideals that one needs to treasure while embarking on a career. After completing his studies from The Cochin College, a stone’s throw from his residence in Koovappadam, Ansif knew that a 9 am-to-5 pm-job was not his cup of tea. At that time, the dot com revolution was slowly gaining momentum in India and the young man was enticed by it. He had the vision to foresee information technology ruling the world and decided to take the plunge.
He started his career as a graphic designer, working from his residence at the dawn of the new millennium. He lost no time in starting a photography and designing studio in 2001. Ansif’s avid interest in technology and the internet unveiled the mine of opportunities in eCommerce, which was in its infancy in the country.
Rendezvous with Alibaba.com
During his days as a photographer, a friend told Ansif that photo printers and cartridges were cheaper in China. The tech-savvy novice entrepreneur lost no time in doing an online search only to stumble upon Chinese eCommerce firm Alibaba.com. He struck while the iron was hot by deciding to harness the opportunities provided by this site to begin an e-venture despite stiff opposition from his family as they did not want him to enter business. With the humble capital of Rs 2 lakh, his entire savings from his days as a shutterbug, Ansif began his entrepreneurial pursuits by importing photo printers from China. It was in 2006 that he started Paradise Group in Kochi trading in rubber and carbon black. In the bat of an eyelid, it grew phenomenally so much that he soon had offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai in China, Taipei in Taiwan and Samanabad in Pakistan. Two years down the line, he set up AGI Holdings to sell Centrifuge Separators. Later, it went on to become the sole distributor of Zhejiang Qingji Ind Co Ltd, China, in selling their separators in Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam and Malaysia. AGI was also able to deliver the technology required for manufacturing EMR fabric that helps deactivate bombs which are mobile triggered.
His outstanding success in e-Commerce was well noticed and he was one of the pioneers who popularised it in the country as a viable business option. It was an act of destiny that the very same online platform which catapulted him into the business world decided to honour him as a champion of eCommerce. In 2008, Alibaba chose Ansif as one of the world’s Top Ten e-Business Champions of the Year and felicitated him at the Small and Medium Enterprise Summit of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Hanghzhou, the global headquarters of the world’s largest businessto-business enterprise. And that was just the beginning.
A dream comes true
Ever since his father had to relinquish responsibilities in Cochin Herald in 1995, Ansif was determined to come to the helm of the publication one day. His dream came true in 2011 after earning a coveted position in the entrepreneurial world. After much effort, he was able to win control of the titles of Cochin Herald. What the father lost was regained by the son.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
On a quest for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
"DIB (Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging) has been my focus for a very long time now. My post doctoral research is in gender diversity and I periodically write research based editorial articles in national dailies"
Goals set right from a very young age
“Be resilient and be loyal to the company or your client. They believe in you and you should believe what you do"
Racing ahead of stereotypes
“Always keep your head high and feet on the ground, because the faster you fly the faster you come down. Always stay grounded”
Doll it up, the Althea way
“I have learnt more with the downs because that is how we train ourselves to be better and devise methods to get those things sorted”
Reinfusing soul and grit
“Being an entrepreneur is a strenuous process, while acting gives you a lot of joy. Though I enjoy both, I look at acting as nirvana”
A ta santé, wine queen!
“To be called a pioneer, it is a long route filled with hard work,perseverance and patience”
Stairway to nostalgia and enduring camaraderie
As told to Fred Cochin by veteran singer and his longtime friend Sujatha Mohan. They revive memories of music concerts of yesteryears, life amid pandemic and more
Giving forms to words artfully
“I always keep myself associated with my art irrespective of how many challenges or hurdles I have to face"
Breaking gender and body stereotypes
“As each year passes within the blink of an eye, I try to learn from my mistakes and am constantly striving to be a better version of myself, irrespective of whether it works or not”
A homemaker and proud of it
“The idea of wind chimes came in through the thought of waste management. I wanted to create things that bring in happiness for others, through waste materials”
THE ROYAL DIVA OF NAILS DR. LEENA S.
Dr. Leena S. is the embodiment of the progressive Indian woman who not only has confidence but also has a lot to show for it.
THE NAIL ENTREPRENEUR
“I’d like to see at least 100 The Nail Artistry salons operational across different countries around the world.”
THE NAIL TYCOON
What better way to celebrate Woman's Day (March 08) than listening to an exceptional woman entrepreneur who has made her mark. Dr Leena S., the brain behind the super-luxury nail salon ‘The Nail Artistry’ in Kochi, has such an inspiring story.
Year of Road Trips
THE YEAR GONE BY BROUGHT ONE CLEAR TRAVEL TREND TO THE FOREFRONT – THAT OF ROAD TRIPS. WE EXPLORE SOME OF THE POPOLAR HOTSPOTS THAT CITY GOERS ARE TRAVELLING TO, WITH MOST OF THE FLIGHTS FLYING OVERSEAS STILL NOT FULLY FUNCTIONAL.
किफायती ऊर्जा से विकास को रफ्तार मिलेगी: मोदी
कोच्चि-मंगलुरु प्राकृतिक गैस पाइपलाइन का उद्घाटन
Kingfisher Calendar 2021
Kingfisher, the King of Good times is back with the 19th edition of its legacy property — Kingfisher Calendar. Breaking the tradition of shooting the calendar at exotic overseas locations, this year’s calendar has been shot at an equally exotic location within India. Explore God’s Own Country, Kerala with celebrity photographer Atul Kasbekar.
KERALA Home Splendid
Traditional architecture tempered by the learning, experience and evolving demands of time, have much to offer, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. Tapping into this rich well of incredible beauty and knowledge, these FIVE Kerala Homes by visionary architects respectfully bring together the old and the new, with stylized flair.
KERALA BANK: THE PEOPLE'S BANK
The cooperative banking system is the backbone of the Indian state of Kerala.
Smart Metro – Asset Management powered by AI had all the learnings necessary to deal with metros post construction
Writing on the Wall
Graffiti is a word, phrase, or image painted or drawn somewhere in public, like on the side of a building or on the walls in a restroom.