Sharjah: Tributes have been pouring in for a young global media entrepreneur and journalist from India who died in Sharjah on Wednesday.
Ansif Ashraf, 37, who hailed from the south Indian state of Kerala, was best known for owning the British Herald, a UK-based online news site and magazine, which he purchased in 2018.
Prominent personalities from different walks of life in various countries posted condolence messages and paid tributes to Ansif.
Vice-President of Somaliland Abdirahman Saylici, patron of British Herald Baron Raminder Ranger, who holds a life peerage at UK’s House of Lords, Islamic scholar from Zimbabwe, Ismail ibn Musa Menk, also known as Mufti Menk, were among those who expressed shock at the untimely demise of Ansif and paid tributes online.
Long-term Indian expat in Sharjah K.V. Shamsudheen said Ansif’s death was a big loss to the Indian community.
“He was a very successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, visionary and a great human being. He was in the process of launching a new publication here.”
Shamsudheen said Ansif had started many charitable initiatives back home in Mattancherry in Kochi. “Several students are being sponsored under the scholarship initiative and many women are being empowered. My family members and I pray for him and his family.”
Riyaz Kilton, chairman of Dubai-based Kiltons Group and a friend of Ansif, said, "He was a great visionary and a philanthropist. He had built cordial relationships with people from all strata of the society across the world. His death is a big loss to the community, and personally for me."
Ansif is survived by his wife Ramzeen Ansif, their two children, mother Naseem Ashraf and brother Arshad Ashraf.
Man of many hats
Born in Thane of the western Indian state of Maharashtra, Ansif had begun his career as a graphic designer in 2000 and went on to become a man of many hats-- an award-winning businessman, an e-commerce savant and a philanthropist.
In 2006, he established Paradise Group, a trading company that dealt in rubber and carbon black. Two years later, he founded AGI Holdings - a company that sold centrifuge separators.
In 2012, Ansif took over the reins of Cochin Herald which his father, Dr S.A. Mohamed Ashraf, had founded as a weekly newspaper in Kochi, Kerala, in 1992. He transformed it into an English business magazine published once in two months.
Ansif was instrumental in instituting the Kerala State Business Excellence Awards. In 2018, he became the secretary general of the Kerala chapter of APJ Abdul Kalam International Foundation, launched by family members of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India.
It was in 2017 that Ansif acquired the intellectual property rights of the British Herald. He then launched it as an online news and information delivery platform. The following year, Ansif launched a bi-monthly e-magazine with same moniker, featuring prominent world leaders on its cover.
In 2017, Ansif launched ‘Fly With Me’ mobile application that connects flyers travelling on the same flight and from the same airport.
Having done his post-graduation in journalism in London School of Journalism, Ansif was a member of the London Press Club, and the National Union of Journalists in the UK. He was also a patron of British Library.
Ansif had won World’s Top e-Business Champion Award from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 2008. In 2013, he was awarded as a Brand Icon of the year by the Time of India newspaper.
Ansif was the founder president of Young Chamber of Commerce and also the former e-coach and mentor of Youth Employment Network, which was a partnership of the United Nations, World Bank and International Labour Organisation.
Having penned several articles in English and Malayalam journals and magazines, Ansif had also authored a book in Malayalam.
Insan Charitable Trust under him conducts philanthropic activities by tying up with reputed organisations. In his Facebook posts in December, 2020, Ansif said the Trust in association with Abdullah Aid UK distributed winter supplies in Syria and heaters, blankets and beds in Gaza, Palestine.
Ansif was also the global COVID-19 awareness ambassador for a unit of the government of Karnataka.