Harris spices up his career

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Gavin Barnett, from the CWLEP Growth Hub, with Harris Qais. Photo submitted

A MAN who plucked up some Dutch courage to resign from a high-flying role last year to start pursuing his business idea is finally launching his firm, thanks to a chance meeting on a plane to Amsterdam.

Harris Qais, who lives in Tanworth, has launched King of Saffron, a business which is aiming to change the lives of farmers in Afghanistan by importing their Saffron crops into the UK and across the globe.

The spice is one of Afghanistan’s largest exports, with the country growing more than 4,000kg across 800 acres of land.

It is used in a variety of food and drink, and is also used for medicinal purposes.

The 32-year-old, who was born in Kabul before moving to the UK as a six-year-old, reflected on the key moment that unlocked further potential for his idea.

“I had just left my role as an IT sales director and went through a short period of asking myself what I had done,” he said.

“I needed a break for a few days to mull things over and while on a plane to Amsterdam the man sat next to me could see that I seemed a bit restless, and asked me what was troubling me.

“After explaining my business idea to him, he revealed that he worked for Aston Business School and could point me in the right direction.

“It was from here that he pointed me towards the CWLEP Growth Hub, who have been instrumental in helping me to convert a business idea into reality.”

Harris contacted the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP (CWLEP) Growth Hub in November 2018 about his idea, and since then has worked with Gavin Barnett, business navigator at the hub, to kick-start his career as an entrepreneur.

This included building up a step-by-step guide on launching a business, and pointing him towards the Warwickshire Start Up Programme which is delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce to receive personalised business mentoring.

Gavin also put Harris in touch with the Department of International Trade, which equipped him with the necessary documentation required to trade with specific countries, as well as advice on which countries to target first.

“Having an idea is one thing but becoming a businessman is a totally different challenge, and Harris has networked and listened as much as he can to get his idea to where it is now,” said Gavin.

“He came to us with just an idea and now has a credible business plan – and we are hoping his story will inspire other people with an idea to contact us for some impartial advice on how they take their concept to the next level,” he added.