With an aim and vision to promote women entrepreneurs in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, Ms. K. Rama Devi has started ALEAP – Association of Lady Entrepreneurs in India. ALEAP supports women to be economically independent and guide them in converting their idea into a business. We met and spoke to three of the women entrepreneurs, who were supported by ALEAP in their initial years to know their entrepreneurial journey. Read on to know more.
Padmavathi Annapurna Kalluri – Food Processing industry
“I have been a food entrepreneur for about 10 years now. I have recently started a social enterprise in my village in Andhra Pradesh, which is into manufacturing jute bags. I am an MBA graduate, an Electronics Engineer who worked in MNCs for five years. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur right from my childhood. I quit my job in 2007 to fulfill my dream of being an entrepreneur. I started making breakfast cereals, instant mixes and snacks with millets like bajra, jowar, ragi, and foxtail.
Food is something we think of for at least three times a day. And we are always confused about the nutritional value of the food we eat at the office or what we cook at home. There is always a clash between the taste and nutritional value of the food. So, we wanted to bring both the nutrition and taste together and provide people with healthier options to eat. I did not have any prior experience in the food industry. Neither do I hold any degree in food processing nor am I a good cook. But my passion for food has led me to start this. After breakfast cereals, we soon ventured into making snacks that were high in protein and low in fat.
Today, many know about millets. But 10 years ago, when I started it, hardly anyone knew about this. Kitchens did not have millets even though they were traditional crops. Therefore, marketing became difficult for us in the initial years. MNC distributors would not let my stuff be on the shelves in the supermarket, and it would not get sold. Then I started going to schools and colleges who provide snacks to their students and provided our snacks. From there it got popularised.
We have started our company from ALEAP with just 2 of us working in it. ALEAP has provided us market linkages, facilitated bank loans and connected us to various organizations. ALEAP makes it easier for women entrepreneurs to start their own business.”
Himaja Atluri, Apparel Industry
“I have always been passionate about designing, clothing, and colors. I could appreciate and identify colors and good color combinations. I decided to do something in the field of apparel designing. That is when I worked for 2-3 years in a manufacturing unit before starting my own. Currently, I am employing 15-20 members in my manufacturing unit. We are into making uniforms and Peter England shirts.
ALEAP has supported me and my organization by providing free space to operate from and the latest machines for more than one and a half years. They provided complete hand-holding support for almost two years. It has helped us in market linkages too. In fact, our orders for Peter England shirts came through ALEAP. ALEAP is helping us survive times of very high competition too.”
Related Article: How ALEAP has taken a leap in promoting entrepreneurship among women Read more: https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/how-aleap-has-taken-a-leap-in-promoting-entrepreneurship-among-women/
Balasu Praveena, Food Processing Industry
“I am into making millet-based food products. Of the total nine products I initially planned, I so far launched three products. They are millet chikkis, millet cookies, and foxtail millet save. I was inspired by my mother to start this venture. She is a very good cook and used to make millet cookies at home. I learned the art of making millet cookies from my mother. I haven’t been into any formal training for making these food products.
As part of mid-day meal schemes in schools in Telangana, kids are provided with ragi malt as their evening snack. As it has a bland taste, I noticed the school kids throwing that into the sinks. That is when I got an idea of making these tasty snacks that are healthy and have high nutritional value. Right now, we are working only in the B2G (Business to Government) setup. We are supplying to all the government schools in Telangana. So far, we haven’t ventured into private markets, but will soon be launching it.
ALEAP has mentored and motivated me, provided machinery support for about a year. They also provided us with space at a nominal rate of interest from where we are currently operating.”