Farm Boy Rises Above All Odds

Abhinesh Kumar was awarded the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award at the 2015 Prime Minister’s Exporter of the Year Awards and the National Young Fijian of the Year 2015
11 Oct 2016 11:00
Farm Boy  Rises Above All Odds

Abhinesh Kumar was awarded the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award at the 2015 Prime Minister’s Exporter of the Year Awards and the National Young Fijian of the Year 2015 at the National Youth and Sports Conference

Former national long distance champion Abhinesh Kumar has overcome all kinds of odds to now run a successful business and an athletics club from Nadi.

The 32-year-old of Nasau in Votualevu is leading his tiling company Quality Tile Setters laying tiles for the leading resorts: Westin Resort, Sheraton Fiji Resort and Spa, Tanoa International Hotel, Sheraton Tokoriki Island Resort and Vomo Island Resort.

As well the versatile Year 12 drop out’s efforts have also received national recognition after being awarded the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award at the 2015 Prime Minister’s Exporter of the Year Awards and the National Young Fijian of the Year 2015 at the National Youth and Sports Conference.

For his volunteering work with the youth, Mr Kumar has also garnered accolades such as the 2015 Youth Volunteer of the Year Award, the 2015 National Best Project of the Year Award and Reserve Bank of Fiji Young Business Recognition 2015.

His eight-year venture in business not only has excelled in laying tiles and diversified into the construction industry. He hopes to rebrand the name to  Quality Tiling and Building Services Limited next month.

Mr Kumar’s business venture is now thriving under his unique brand of leadership whereby he treats his employees as his brothers rather than his subordinates.

According to him, success is 100 percent guaranteed because of how closely-knit his company is, resembling that of a family.

It seems that from here on out, Mr Kumar’s journey is one of smooth- sailing as he has trodden the hard path and turned shortcomings into success and appears unscathed in his pursuit of a better life.

Though he is now enjoying the fruits of his labour and is still continuing to reap the seeds of determination and his efforts, life has taught him lessons that is sure to remain at the back of his mind, and as he passionately puts it, “You might not earn good money every day but you can choose to always have the right attitude every moment.”

Such is the insight of a young man who like all of us have scars of failure to show for, like all of us who home in our own ways failed but also had victories at the same time.

One’s ability to overcome failure makes him more a victor and Mr Kumar is a victor in this regard.

After failing his Fiji School Leaving Certificate examinations and becoming a high school dropout, he continued with his usual routine of grazing cattle, milking cows and looking after the farm.

All of this accompanied his athletic pursuits, something he describes as being an integral part of his life.

To understand his aspirations and entrepreneurial success, he shares his life’s experiences by aptly saying, “I had a very hard life growing up.”

Mr Kumar had a humble upbringing, growing up on a sugarcane farm. He describes his early days being raised up in a rural setting as being the cornerstone of his life’s successes.

“My father was a farmer and I grew up from a poor family. While growing up as a little boy I remember having to graze the cattle every morning and during the cane cutting season I had to help around the farm by bringing food to my father and the cane cutting gang,”  he said.

“During all weekends, from kindergarten up till Class 3, I’d accompany my father to the market to help sell our produce and from Class 4 onwards.

“ I had learnt how to sell vegetables and would then go to sell the vegetables all by myself and this was where I came to know more about people, all from selling vegetables as a young boy which I still continue today. Also when my classmates usually studied, I had to work in the farm.

“During my primary school days while going to school, I had to walk five kilometres on gravel and cane roads and also cross two rivers every morning and this same route, also take when returning home every day.”

Although he had dreams of becoming a physical education teacher, Mr Kumar got side-tracked due to his lapse during the national external examinations but that did not deter his spirits.

“As a Form 3 (year 9) student of Nadi College, I began running and used to wake up at 3am in the morning for my run. Then I would return to milk the cow, graze the cattle and come prepare for school.”

Only two years after taking up the sport and because of his avid passion for running, usually on dirt roads and on rugged terrain, he qualified and represented Fiji at the World Cross Country Championships held in Belfast, Ireland, his first athletic representative duty as a cross country runner.

“I remember my first trials at athletics for the World Cross Country Championships because I had to swim across the river on that day as it was flooded and after qualifying I was very proud to represent Fiji at that age. I was in Form 5 (year 11),” he said.

“A year after in Form 6 year 12), I failed my FSLC but I chose to continue on with my athletics and usual routine at home and in 2002 I became a long distance national champion. The following year, I was selected for the 2003 South Pacific Games squad and was also chosen to train in Brisbane, Australia alongside top class athletes.”

He went on to join the Campbell Town Athletics Club based in Sydney and returned home in 2006 and worked for a locally-based New Zealand tiling company called Quality Finishers (Fiji) Limited as a labourer.

After the company wrapped up operations in mid-2008, Mr Kumar opted to begin his own tiling business.

“After the closure of the company I worked for in mid-2008, I chose to begin my own tiling business. I had only $1.00 to my name and my first tiling project was worth $25.00 where I laid tiles in a small bathroom in my village in Nasau. From then on I did not look back and formed my own company known as Quality Tile Setters.

“Earlier on, when my business began, I was bullied by those who had already established their businesses and they made money through my services.

“This was maybe due to me being a school dropout and I was very fortunate to be offered an AusAID scholarship to study with the Australia Pacific Technical College in 2009 alongside my brother and it was there at APTC that I realised that school dropouts also had talents.”

After graduating with a Certificate III in Wall and Floor Tiling from APTC in 2009 as one of the best students from the Pacific, Mr Kumar was offered another scholarship in 2010.

He undertook the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment course which is also known as the Trainer of Trainers class, a programme which has assisted him share his knowledge and skills with his current staff members, who are, ironically enough, also school dropouts.

“After completing my studies with APTC, I was offered employment with them but I turned it down because I realised my struggles as a school dropout and I sought to employ school dropouts as well through my company as I had begun my company with that in mind,” he said.

“I had a feeling that there were a lot of young men who faced similar situations like I had as a school dropout and I offered them employment. And now I treat my employees as my family and brothers and I share all my knowledge with them as I view it as a key to my success in business.”

He has a motto, a motto which is ideally thought out and reflective of his ideology, by the acronym KESA which in long form reads Knowledge, Experience, Skills and Ability.

“I take my motto to communities, youth clubs and during sporting meets because I believe that through sharing of our knowledge, experience, skills and abilities we can develop together,” Mr Kumar said.

The intuitive and sports-loving Mr Kumar also began the Jet Runners Club of Nadi in 2012, with his own company being major sponsors, Jet Runners Club has organised around 65 events in Fiji like cross country running, mountain running, fun runs and track races, all conducted with an objective to motivate young Fijians to use running for health and fitness.

Mr Kumar, who also attained a Level 1 Athletics Certification for coaching under the New South Wales Athletics Association and is also a certified gym instructor.

The Nadi man has a long term plan to construct a youth and sports development centre on the outskirts of Nadi, something he envisages to be completed by 2018. It’s  a project with which he is receiving support and advice from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

“I want to open up a youth and sports centre as I envision it to be used for youth and sports development, educating on basic construction and physical education, youth cultural activities, motivational and empowerment training and agricultural training and to also function as a gym as I want to pass on my knowledge as widely as possible,” said Mr Kumar.

“I have been working very closely with the Ministry of Youth and Sports on every Project and am pleased with the youth officers who are always very supportive to me, my company and Jet Runners Club.

“I would also like to thank both the Ministers who respect and support me in all my projects and wherever we meet.”

Minister for Youth and Sports Laisenia Tuitubou in a meeting with the young managing director of Quality Tile Setters said his accomplishments were an inspiration to all youths.

He caps off his story with a message for all Fijian youth, “Create a passion for living amongst each other because that is what a true Fijian should do.”

Therefore do not be weighed down by challenges and strife and adjust your compass bearing in the direction you will it to go. Only then shall your finest hour find you and define the rest of your life.

Then you can be just like it has Mr Kumar, the young farm boy from Votualevu, who made it big.

Source: Ministry of Youth and Sports


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