If you have a dream to pursue and you are willing to put your heart and soul into it, nothing can stop you. To empower women homemakers, Britannia Marie Gold started a contest My Marie Gold, My Startup by giving 10 ambitious winners Rs 10 lakh each to start their own venture. From among one million plus applicants for the contest, Britannia announced 42 finalists from across the nation, and later, based on the judgements and with the help of expert advice, the names of 10 winners were revealed. Sakal Times caught up with three winners — Mumbai-based Lalitha Praveen Patil and Pune-based Darshana Dilip Pawar and Anita Balasaheb Hore, to know about their journey and plans ahead.
‘IF I COULD DO IT, ANYONE CAN’
Lalitha Praveen Patil, the 35-year-old from Thane, has been part of the food industry, supplying homecooked meals to Mumbai’s dabbawalas. However, she always had a dream of reaching out to more people through a restaurant. Britannia’s contest helped her realise her dream.
With the help of the prize money, Patil started her own restaurant. Of course, she had to make a few compromises here and there because of the paucity of space and steep prices in a city like Mumbai, but so far the response to her eatery has been good.
People wait in queue for their turn and she is all ready to maintain the same positive pace and extend her services. “Along with my husband, I set up the entire place and my in-laws have been supportive too. I am planning to open branches in the next few years,” she said.
The eatery offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare while keeping nutrition, taste and variety in focus. “From spices to wheat to every possible raw ingredient, I prefer to make it at home or buy it fresh. And that is why I named my restaurant Ghar chi Athvan meaning ‘remembrance of home’. My family is fond of whatever I cook, so I can surely say that I am good at cooking. They love non-vegetarian food, so I make it for them very often,” says Patil.
After getting an opportunity to become an entrepreneur, she has now hired women cooks at her restaurant, giving them an opportunity as well to become financially stable. She also guides and helps them in the kitchen to offer the best service to customers.
Patil has put up a giant cheque of Britannia’s cash prize on the restaurant’s wall so that others get to see it and take inspiration. The enterprising lady says, “If I could do it, anyone can. Do not get scared and work hard for what you want, and one day everything will fall into place.” She is also ready to guide other women who want to participate in Britannia’s My Marie Gold, My Startup contest.
‘I LOVE TO EXPERIMENT’
Darshana Dilip Pawar, 31-year-old Pune-based homemaker, always wanted to own a biscuit company. With the help of Britannia’s prize money, Pawar did set up her company at Mulshi, Pune.
Named after Lord Ganesha’s favourite sweet — modak, Pawar called her brand Modakam. She chose an easy title so that she could reach out to many. “Modakam is easy to remember and something that people can relate to,” she says.
Her focus is completely on the company and to offer cookies which are healthy as well as tasty. She is not afraid of experimenting and taking risks to deliver the best she can. Her family members are extremely happy and proud of her efforts as she has established the company from scratch and successfully running it for the past two months.
Except for cookies, Pawar cooks everyday food really well that her family members enjoy so much. Though non-vegetarian food is her speciality, she loves to experiment with all kinds of foods.
Recalling her journey and motivating other women to achieve their goals, Pawar says, “Keep dreaming and chasing your dreams, life knows where to lead you. Never think that you are worthless, if a woman is capable of running a house, she is capable of doing anything.”
Customer relations is important. Pawar has a good tip: “If a woman can maintain good relationship within the family and cope with different situations, she can definitely run a business by herself.”
Currently, she is running her business without any partnership.
‘TAKING ONE STEP AT A TIME’
Anita Balasaheb Hore, a 34-year-old homemaker living in Pune, is happy that Britannia has put forward this initiative to empower women who are helping others to achieve their dreams.
A graduate in BA, Hore wanted to utilise her knowledge to establish a business that should never shut down and a resource that never ends. That is when she thought of solar power. Belonging to a water deprived city — Solapur, Hore knows the struggles of people living there such as water crisis, power cut, and lack of resources to cook food. To help them lessen their burden and challenges, she started selling solar lamps at a smaller scale, however, it didn’t take a big turn until she won the Britannia contest.
Speaking of her plans, Hore says that she aims to go far and that is why she is taking one step at a time. “I believe that there’s a huge chance of falling if you walk really fast,” she says.
With the help of the prize money, Hore is developing good quality solar systems to be used for light bulbs, boiling water etc. She has received orders to place the solar system in three different places in Pandharpur.
Being a homemaker, Hore’s children have always seen her working at home and when she won the contest, they were surprised to see their mother winning such a huge amount. Mother of young kids, Hore says that it is hard to manage work and home but her in-laws have been supportive.
Talking about her venture, she says, “We live in the age of technology so we must utilise it for our benefit. We must see and analyse where the world is heading. We are a developing country, and many countries have high hopes from us.”
Hore has employed other women in her startup who are struggling to make ends meet. Having faith in fair distribution, she pays the employees according to the profit. “I never get discouraged on the days when no sale happens, as it is a part of every business,” says the courageous lady.