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Meet Rajesh Das – Entrepreneur of the Year 2018

Rajesh Das is the Vice President of Industries and Trade Fair Association of Assam. Not only has he worked towards developing the entrepreneurial sector of the region, he has worked closely with India’s neighbouring countries, including SAARC and BIMSTEC countries to bridge the gap between the northeastern states andbuild strong bilateral ties. He had been appointed as the Trade Advisor of former Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Dr DD Lapang.He is also the founder editor of Northeast Tribune – a web news portal of the region.

Born and brought up in Guwahati, Rajesh did his schooling from South Point Montessori School and Central School, Khanapara before moving to Delhi where he pursued graduation in English Literature from Kirori Mal College and post graduation from the University of Delhi.

Belonging to a family of teachers, bureaucrats, lawyers, doctors and engineers, the field of trade and commerce were alien concepts to Rajesh. His father Late Bhaba Taran Das, an activist during the historic Assam Agitation and a great columnist of the time, used to work in the Statistics Department of Gauhati University. Rajesh is a first generation businessman who started from grassroots level with the aim to promote trade in Assam.

“My companions during my school and university days inspired me to think out of the box. Delhi introduced me to a very different world – a competitive one with vast opportunities. It liberated me from the traditional world of technical education of medicines and engineering. And so, I decided to become an entrepreneur instead of taking up a lucrative government job,” said Rajesh.

Rajesh’s journey as an entrepreneur began 25 years ago with the formation of Industries and Trade Fair Association of Assam (ITFAA) in the year 1993. Rajesh, along with a few like-minded people, formed ITFAA with theobjective of providing a platform to entrepreneurs, artisans and self-help groups of the northeast in the national as well as international market by organising events and programs. The Guwahati Trade Fair was their pioneering effort in this regard.

Speaking to G Plus about the inception of the International Guwahati Trade Fair, Rajesh recalled, “In 1993, the then district administration of Kamrup requested us to organise the proposed Guwahati Trade Fair at Judges Field as the ground was lying idle and in bad condition. We organised the first edition of the historic Guwahati Trade Fair with the participation of few government departments and public undertakings like SAIL, Coal India Ltd, OIL, ONGC and a few participants from Delhi. Guwahati Trade Fair went international after receiving recognition from India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), Ministry of Commerce, Government of India and subsequent participation of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh in 2001.”

Since then, the International Guwahati Trade Fair has witnessed participation from countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey, Iran, Singapore, China, Afghanistan, Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates, to name a few.

ITFAA has successfully been organising the International Guwahati Trade Fair since 25 years, International Shillong Trade Fair since 19 years, International Shillong Shopping Carnival since 13 years, International Nagaon Trade Fair since 3 years and Made in North East India in Thailand since 3 years.

Rajesh Das was recently bestowed with the ‘Entrepreneur of the year’ award by Maramland Welfare Society. “Entrepreneurship is a team work. Hence, I dedicate the award to the hundreds of unsung heroes who stood by me and motivated me over the last 25 years to reach this position,” a humbled Rajesh told G Plus. He further added that with his vast experience in policy development, project management, foreign affairs and communications, he endeavours to contribute towards building a strong socio-economic relationship with the neighbouring countries.

He feels that the government’s Act East Policy, Make in India Policy and Advantage Assam Business Summit are historic steps towards improving the trade and commerce scenario of Assam, as well as the entire northeast India. These initiatives, according to Rajesh, are improving the economic scenario of Assam and re-branding the state’s image in the eyes of the global audience.

Further, Rajesh understands that social media plays a vital role in the sector of entrepreneurship and innovation. “In this globalised world, entrepreneurship and innovation cannot flourish without social media. Instant communication and dependable service play very important roles in modern entrepreneurship, making it easy to meet demands and solve grievances,” he said.

An icon for the budding and aspiring entrepreneurs, Rajesh believes that there is no short cut to success. “To become an entrepreneur, you need real time preparation and lots of hard work. I would advise the budding entrepreneurs to first complete their studies keeping in sync with the type of entrepreneurship they plan to opt for. If possible, they should also work for a few months/years in private sector to garner experience about working under pressure and achieving targets before plunging into entrepreneurship. Finally, don’t forget to be a good human being.”