Feature

A Peanut Seller’s Tale Of Struggles, Sacrifice And Success

Thriving businessman in Seaqaqa, Shaan Ali, shares his story. Starting as peanut sellers, Mr and Mrs Ali now own two sawmills, three cane trucks and three cane farms.
25 Jun 2020 11:41
A Peanut Seller’s Tale Of Struggles, Sacrifice And Success
Businessman Shaan Ali at his timber sawmill in Seaqaqa. Photo: Laisa Lui

From a peanut seller to a thriving businessman in Seaqaqa, Macuata, Shaan Ali believes sacrifice and hard work are keys to success.

Mr Ali dropped out of school at the age of 16 to help his parents support his brother’s education.

He then also had to support his wife, Nazia Bano, and daughter because he got married after leaving school.

His parents were sugarcane farmers, and Mr Ali would help his parents in the fields by cutting and loading 10 tonnes of cane.

Tables turned in 2004, when at the age of 20, Mr Ali started selling peanuts for four years in Seaqaqa. He and his wife saved enough money to purchase a van and venture into a carrier business, which his father operated.

Mr Ali continued selling peanuts, saved money and bought a car, which he operated as a taxi.

“I then left selling peanuts to drive the taxi for a year. I was able to save $15,000, which I deposited at the Fiji Development Bank and financed a seven-tonne truck,” he said.

“I gave my father the taxi business to run while I drove the cane truck.

“I bought another truck a year later and provide cartage to logging companies, which enabled me to purchase another truck.”

In 2015, Mr Ali established his own logging company, this time as a contractor. Two years later, Mr Ali set up a portable saw mill worth $55,000 in  Kawakawa-Vesi.

In 2018, he purchased another saw mill, and with the approval of the Department of Environment, operated it on an 85-acre land, which was vacant for seven years.

Mr Ali also had three cane farms on the 85-acre land, which his less than 20 workers were employed on while awaiting approval from the Department of Environment.

He said he paid his workers the same rate, instead of laying them off.

The Ali family at their home in Seaqaqa, Macuata on June 24, 2020. From left, back, Zakirah Bano, Shayaan Ali, Nazia Bano, Shaan Ali and Shahaan Ali. From left, front, Zeba Naaz Bano and Zakiyah Bano. Photo: Laisa Lui

The Ali family at their home in Seaqaqa, Macuata on June 24, 2020. From left, back, Zakirah Bano, Shayaan Ali, Nazia Bano, Shaan Ali and Shahaan Ali. From left, front, Zeba Naaz Bano and Zakiyah Bano. Photo: Laisa Lui

Background

Mr Ali recalled growing up in a poor family whereby his parents were cane labourers.

The experience made him visualize a better future for him and his family.

His wife, he said, was the solid foundation to his success.

Mrs Ali would wake up at 3 am every day to prepare the peanuts, roti parcel, corn and juice to be sold at Seaqaqa.

“When I go to sell, my wife does the house chores and looks after our daughters,” Mr Ali said.

“It was good money as we were able to earn $100 to $200 per day.

“Our aim was to catch the first ferry bus, where I earn most of the money from customers in the bus.”

Every struggle has its benefits.

“My wife worked very hard and made all those sacrifices, now she has more time with our children and relaxing at home,” he said.

“It was a hard time before when we started, but now everything is good and our family are very happy.”

Now at the age of 36, he has five children who are all attending school.

Mrs Ali continues to be her husband’s personal assistant.

Shaan Ali (right) with brother Imraan (left) and parents Jainab Bi and Usman Ali.

Shaan Ali (right) with brother Imraan (left) and parents Jainab Bi and Usman Ali.

The taxi business is now operated by Mr Ali’s father, while his younger brother helps him with the operation of the saw mill.

From a peanut seller, Mr and Mrs Ali now own two sawmills, three cane trucks and three cane farms.

Mr Ali admitted there were challenges along the way, but perseverance and teamwork made his dream for a better life for his family a reality.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

Feedbacklaisa.kabulevu@fijisun.com.fj



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