Dr. Tausif Malik is a man of many parts. This dynamic, versatile Indian-American is originally a native of Pune (Maharashtra) and is based in Chicago. Dr. Malik is Founder of America’s largest community based Spelling Bee competition (MuslimSpellingBee.com). Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi aggressively started pursuing and implementing programs such as “Digital India”, “Startup India”, “Skill India”, “Standup India” and “Make In India”, Dr. Malik says he has become a fan of PM Modi and wants to contribute in his own way to his motherland.
Dr. Tausif Malik brings tremendous amount of experience and knowledge, he is the pioneer in creating branding through recruitment advertisement of I.T clients in mid 90’s. He developed and executed branded recruitment advertisement campaigns for Infosys, Geometric Software Services, Scala Mindworks, ITB India, Veritas Software India and others. He co-founded Crossover Software with India’s no #1 pop star Lucky Ali and he later moved to Sultanate of Oman and established Oman’s first PR agency SIMPA PR and Press Club of Oman. He was invited to co-author a book “Doing Business with Oman”, which has been selling since 2002. He headed major advertising agency networks in the Middle East and India. In 2007, he immigrated to USA and established TMA Worldwide in Los Angeles and later moved headquarters to Chicago. He teaches at major MBA and MassComm Institutes, speaks at major startup events and mentors startups.
Dr. Tausif Malik, who is also Founder of “IndiaStartUpFest.com”, “GCCStartUpFest.com”, “Schoolpreneur.Biz”, and “AIMBSN.com”, is today a “Man on a Mission”. He is committed to carry forward the programs of Prime Minister Modi and wants to establish E-Cells and incubators at Muslim run colleges and schools. Dr. Tausif Malik talked to Danish Ahmad Khan, Fouder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper “IndianMuslimObserver.com” in a freewheeling Interview and laid bare his future plans for India. Here are the excerpts of the Interview.
IMO: Your journey in life so far seems to be quite interesting. You are originally from Pune, went to USA and resided as Indian American in Chicago, and finally came back to India. What brought you back to your motherland? Also, tell us about your experiences and achievements in the United States.
Dr Tausif Malik: Jazak’Allahkhair for doing my interview. I was born raised and educated in Pune, in the year 2000 I left to Dubai for a holiday but ended with a job, than moved to Sultanate of Oman, than Dubai, then returned to India in 2004. But again my previous employer called me to the head office in Kuwait. FirstIy, India is a happening place… and secondIy, for family reasons because of my mother’s health. I have always believed in the Indian Economy because of the sheer size of the population… population means demand…and demand means business. And we wanted to setup Indian operations to establish our flagship brand MuslimSpellingBee.com competition. Before proceeding, I would like to tell you about my various achievements while in USA.
(1.) Nominated and shortlisted for prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, USA
(2.) Past Nominated for Sheikh Muhammad Al Makhtoum ruler of Dubai, UAE promoted f Prestigious Global Islamic Economy Award – Dubai Government in association with Thompson Reuters.First Runner up http://www.awqafsa.org.za/islamic-economy-awards-2013/
(3.) Panelist with The Guardian Newspaper UK http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/small-business-blog/2013/apr/22/live-debate-social-enterprise-training
(4.) Community Member on Illinois Muslim Council by Governor Pat Quinn.
(5.) External Review committee member University of Wisconsin School of Architecture.
IMO: It seems both entrepreneurship and social activism have been weighing quite heavily on your mind. This perhaps led you to start the World’s First Muslim Spelling Bee competition in the United States. When you returned to India, you organized two business networking events for Muslims in Pune. And, now you have launched IndiaStartUpFest.com, GCCStartUpFest.com, and Schoolpreneur.Biz, and going to organize even more events for start-ups in future. What makes you to do all this and how do you manage such a hectic lifestyle?
Dr Tausif Malik: Holy Quran and Hadith have strongly supported entrepreneurship. In fact at our event, Zafar Sareshwala highlighted that Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) had the motivation and dedication and Ummul Mu’mineen Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) had the capital and they started a company to trade goods. Hence the first startup in Islam…. Rasūlullāh s.a.w said: “Out of ten parts, nine parts of one’s sustenance is in business”.
Hence promoting entrepreneurship is a must. It also helps the economy and reduces unemployment. If we, as a community get active into entrepreneurship, this will boost our economic activity and help us prosper.
Our Startup festivals are focused and supports everyone to become entrepreneurs …there is no English Language barrier, no technology barrier, no Gender barrier…we support the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modiji’s policies such as Make in India, Startup India, Digital India, and SkiII India. We want everyone to understand and benefit from these policies.
I think Allah chooses all of us for a certain objective hence that drills passion and dedication. In my case it is my mother’s blessings (Dua’s) and hard work.
IMO: Take our readers down the memory lane and provide details on the launch of Muslim Spelling Bee competition. How this happened? What are your plans regarding this competition in India?
Dr Tausif Malik: I didn’t win a single competition …even though my mother took me to over 100 competitions ….Every-time I lost the competition, she would say “Your time will come”….now I’m the creator of America’s Second Largest Competition.
I immigrated to USA in 2007 and established Asian Lite USA, a South Asian bi-weekly newspaper in association with Asian Lite UK in Los Angeles, California, but recession in American affected my business and I lost all my savings and moved to Chicago. During the holy month of Ramadan of 2011, I was blessed with this idea of establishing these competitions.
I was short on money, so I registered the website for a year only, developed my own website and emailed about the competition to my contact list. This email became a hit amongst community and parents across the country, and were eager to register. In order to fund this project and establish, I started driving a cab/taxi, so I can earn and work together. I could have picked up a regular job, but moonlighting during job is Har’aam in Islam.
In America, Muslims have contributed to the country as well have created events and institutions to help fellow Americans and communities. In fact Muslim Americans are one of the highly qualified community with an estimated purchasing power of $170 billion.
I founded the idea of connecting communities through education and increase the Muslim students’ participation at the mainstream competition in order to create future pool of leadership. This idea was developed as Muslim students were excelling in education but were lacking participation in the mainstream competitions.
I observed that competitions give a platform to challenge individuals and this helps in enhancing competitive qualities amongst the students.
Generally the Muslim community in America would establish a not for profit to conduct community and religious events, but the success rate of not of profit organizations are poor and good ideas and projects die faster due to lack of funding and professionalism.
I established these competitions based on the Islamic knowledge that Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) encouraged to do ‘Tijarat’ (business) to elevate the community and secondly the fundraising from the community is conducted to only help the needy in the neighborhood.
Initial response was tremendous, but didn’t turn into actual registrations, till January 2012 one month before the competition, it was the registration of Asiya Khan. That registration proved that this idea does work and finally 340 students registered.
During this competition launch I lost his younger kid cousin Salah Shaikh in an drowning accident in Pune, India, I wanted Salah to spear this project, so I can work on earning funding for this project. This loss was not only emotional but I lost my greatest support.
I worked tirelessly day and night to collect information and call all the Islamic organizations, schools, Masjids to help promote the event and the result was the competition was successfully hosted by the Host Schools.
For the first finals, I chose historic Des Plaines Theatre, Des Plaines Illinois to create a grandeur effect for the finalist. The finals went off well and were covered by media, Now I’m known as The SPELLING BEE man in the community.
I went back to doing multiple jobs and business to fund the project, but my mother started losing her body movements and on Eid ul Adha of 2012, she lost all the movements, I rushed her to the hospital only to know she has to operated immediately or she might die. His mother Razia Malik survived, but she had lost ability to live a normal life and she needed rehab and personal care.
One day I received a call from Community Leader from the Aga Khan community Saddruddin Noorani, he said “Tausif I want to tell you something, but before that I want to ask what is the Muslim population of the work?”.Tausif replied around 1.5 billion. He said Allah swt chose you… unite and conduct a educational program to showcase Muslims are for peace and development….keep up the good work…”.
Time and again people email, call and meet and tell me “Tausif thanks for uniting the Ummah, no other project has ever done that……Thanks for doing it for the kids….
I want to make a donation, but I always says no donation only Dua for the project and my ailing mother.
I tell everyone, lets contribute back to the community, neighborhood and country and this is what our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said and did.
This project would not be possible without the Islamic values and Prophetic guidance, Duas and support of the Host Schools-management, principal, teachers, students and parents.
Finally Muslim Spelling Bee has been launched in UK and India; now World’s first Global Muslim students competition.
IMO: Since we are talking about Muslim Spelling Bee competition, I also came to know that you have also launched Schoolpreneur.Biz. Kindly explain its objectives. What progress has it made so far? Also, tell us your plans for this in future.
Dr Tausif Malik: As I work with schools and communities across the globe through my competitions. I found out that education is a must, but it is a long process. A lot of underprivileged children can’t be at school because of their family situation. Also education cannot guarantee a Job. So I just re looked at the situation in a different way, what if we I created an entrepreneur platform for children, as they are always working or selling. So I created Schoolpreneur.Biz for children, there is no language barrier, no technology barrier, no societal barrier and equal platform where they can showcase their ideas and business to business community. If the idea is great they get funded, otherwise they get another opportunity to polish and showcase again. These children get an opportunity from the business world and this a life changing moment, the children will speak about this forever creating an entrepreneurship word of mouth. Children will make an effort to study in order to establish and operate their business. This a new model for elevating the society.
IMO: Kindly reveal something more on your ideas for Startup events for Muslim entrepreneurs. What is the response of the community in the two events which you have organized so far?
Dr Tausif Malik: Muslims have been entrepreneurs, the Arabs arrived in the Western region of India for trade…so Entrepreneurship amongst Muslims is not new… But since the Independence, Muslim community have focused on education and jobs and majority of the small scale businesses or SME’s are owned by Muslims, but very few scaled their business …such as Azim Premji of Wipro, Dr.Hamid of Cipla, Khorakiwala of Wockhardt and many more. Infant the Bohri, Memon and Ismaili community are entrepreneurs and businessmen.
IMO: I have seen the formation of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry. But, Muslims are lagging behind. Have you ever felt the need for forming Muslim Business Chambers in the states where Muslims reside in large numbers? I know one such Muslim Business Chamber in existence in Delhi. What are your views on this?
Dr Tausif Malik: I have met Milind Kambleji, Founder, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He is a visionary and a gentleman. There are many chamber of commerce established by Muslims, but their objective and vision are different. Many well wishers have asked me to establish one, but right now we are focused on conducting the events and establishing the ecosystem for entrepreneurs and businesses.
IMO: You are into startup events and their showcasing. The entry of Muslim entrepreneurs into the startup ecosystem is slow and in its nascent stage. What more needs to be done?
Dr Tausif Malik: I’m amazed to see many young educated Muslims are following the national trend of venturing into startups. I have met many of them or interacted over phone and social media. So Muslims are becoming active in the Startup scenario.
I’m setting up E-Cells & incubators with minority schools and colleges, there students and community can network with each other under a common national& international network. We are always open, if any institution or organization is interested to partner with us. They can reach me on [email protected]
This will create an ecosystem where vision, policies and benefitsof the Indian Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modiji’s of Make India, Startup India- Standup India, Digital India & Skill India will be informed to the community and how they can benefit from the same.
Also international and national entrepreneurs will be roped in to motivate and engage the community to benefit from entrepreneurship.
IMO: Final question, what are your future plans?
Dr Tausif Malik: Our event All India Muslim Business & Startup Network (AIMBSN) is a platform for Muslim Businesses, Investors & Startups to connect with mainstream business ecosystem. The AIMBSN’s theme is “ Connect, Support, Inspire & Grow ”, expressing the vision of the India’s Muslim community becoming more involved in stimulating the business sector and developing opportunities for the next generation.
AIMBSN’s vision and benefit is to connect with the Indian Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modiji’s vision and policies of Make India, Startup India- Standup India, Digital India & Skill India. In sha ‘Allah we are planning to AIMBSN in India and abroad, connect the NRI Muslims with the startup ecosystem of India, through events and networking. We are in process of establishing Venture Capital (VC) fund and invest in the Indian startups. There are many NRI Muslims who want to support their motherland INDIA through investment and growth.
[Danish Ahmad Khan, a native of Gaya (Bihar), is currently based at New Delhi. He is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper “IndianMuslimObserver.com”. He can be contacted at [email protected] / [email protected] or on his Mobile # +91 9990179721]