Unaiza Khan

The Valiant Visionary

Unaiza fought every odd that came in her path. Her undying courage is the perfect example of what one can do when one is determined to make it big!

If I have to ever turn to a story that exemplifies zeal, courage, passion and not giving up on your dreams, I think of her journey. This story is of Unaiza. Born in a small town of Varanasi, Unaiza’s childhood was full of struggle with her parents’ separation. Single, unemployed and with two young ones to take care of, her mother took up a training in tourism to land a job. By the time Unaiza was eight, she learned to cook, was taking care of her five-year-old brother and also the upkeep of the house. When she was 15, Unaiza launched her first business of designing and selling apparels. Her experience grew and so did her vision. At the age of 17, she realized that she must pursue her studies with even higher focus.

Fetching good grades, she secured her admission in one of the largest residential universities in Asia. In the 2nd year of her graduation, she again initiated to launch another business to deal in Kashmiri handicrafts which she continued for a while but time had come to give priority to her goals, and she was ready to pursue her life-long dream of pursuing MBA. In the year 2000, this small-town girl took a courageous decision to move to Mumbai and pursue her MBA. She didn’t want to burden her mom to bear her college expenses, so she decided to take up a job. She worked in business development for a real estate firm, before becoming a Management Consultant to consult SMEs in real estate, FMCG, Industrial goods and Healthcare. Surviving on her own was not easy in a city like Mumbai and unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a severe illness requiring a treatment of eight months. She was forced to go back to her home town. Her health suffered and so did her career, but she fought back and got appointed as a centre head at a renowned global health care brand in Varanasi. She was honoured for being one of the youngest entrepreneurs in the city and an inspiration to other young women.

In 2007, she got married and moved to Mumbai. This is where she unveiled her passion for travel and decided to get into tourism as she was born and brought up amongst the tourism fraternity. With a vision to contribute to Indian tourism and showcase the Incredible side of India to global travellers, she started a firm offering luxury tours to India and the subcontinent.
After working from a room at home for two years, she was able to get a commercial office and hire a small team to work with. Things had started looking positive but suddenly hell broke loose. Her mother was diagnosed with cancer in its last stage. This news broke her into pieces, but within two days what I saw was a warrior of a woman ready to confront adversity by continuing to manage her business and take care of her mother. Unaiza made sure that her brother’s studies were not disturbed and ensured he could finish his exams and get a good job in Delhi.

On 8th April 2013, despite all her efforts, she couldn’t save her mother. I saw her slump into depression and could see her confidence broken, her belief in everything was shaken. When life shows its cruel side, it all goes south at once. On 23rd April, her husband lost his job from a company that shut overnight. They couldn’t afford their office and comforts of a decent rented house. She comforted her husband encouraging him to join her business. She tried her best to rejuvenate her business and made it profitable again. After 18 months, her husband landed a job again, they could see their lives returning to normal. Right then in Sep. 2015, she got the shocking news that her brother had met with an accident, and he was hospitalized. 12 gruelling days of anticipation, paying hefty hospital bills, waiting day and night outside the ICU, visiting every possible divine place praying for her brother, on the day of 2nd October 2015 her only member of her side of the family lost his fight for life.

Anybody would have thought that she would now be lost forever, let aside any signs of rejuvenating her business. But amongst hundreds of discussions and thoughts of shutting down her business and those never-ending nights filled with agonizing cries, she still held on. I am not sure if I did enough in our past nine years together but I made sure to be by her side and today I feel proud when I look at her. She has not let the experiences in her life change her and her vision. Today, she continues to grow her business and has designed some innovative tour experiences which are not offered by any other company and has their copyrights too. Nominated for multiple global luxury tourism awards, she remains down to earth, is a loyal friend, a great motivator, an amazing mentor, an ideal wife, a sincere daughter-in-law and above all a beautiful human being.

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