Any Indian celebration or festival is incomplete without mithai, and sinfully tasting laddoos top the list. Moreover, when the laddoos ordered from outside match the taste of your grandmother’s hands, the celebration is more joyous than ever. However, behind every sweet bite of those laddoos, may hide a story—a story of hard work, grit, persistence, and determination. One such story belongs to Mrs. Vandana Divekar—owner of Trupti Foods, which specialises in high quality homemade food items. Mrs. Divekar provides home-made pure-ghee laddoos (besan and wheat flour) to shops and individual customers, and started her business around a year back. But there is more to her story than the sweetness alone.
A not-so-sweet start
Vandana has been a diamond in the rough, and she has struggled right from childhood. She started working way back while completing her education, when she did a screen printing job. After getting married, she tried hard to support her husband (who works as a store keeper) in running the house. She tried her luck at various ventures such as providing chopped vegetables, running a mess, selling imitation jewellery etc.; However, success did not knock at her door, and she had to close the businesses, going back to square one each time.
The light bulb moment
Finally, came the moment of enlightenment when she realised what her calling was. Vandana’s father was not keeping well, and she had made laddoos to help him restore his health. Tasting the delicious laddoos made by her, her father suggested that she should try selling these to her customers. Vandana realised that this was her true passion, and decided to try her hand at the laddoo business. As Oprah Winfrey says, “Let passion drive your profession”.
The Ship in the Storm
However, entrepreneurship is an uphill battle. There are hurdles all along the road, and Vandana started facing the chill wind soon after she launched her business. She faced lack of working capital and had to wait to receive the sales proceeds until she started making the next batch of laddoos. As such, she could not make them on a large scale, and faced problems with expanding her business.
One day, she read about the deAsra seminar in the Marathi newspaper deAsra, a not-for-profit organization committed to helping small business entrepreneurs launch, run and grow their enterprise profitably, turned out to be a lighthouse for Vandana’s lost ship. deAsra offered her guidance and several services. They helped her prepare a business plan, explore the market, and add equipment. deAsra also helped her with the shop act registration and in getting a food licence, things she wasn’t even aware of before. Furthermore, they went an extra mile and offered her a loan at a concessional rate of 5 % with help from a crowdfunding partner which helped her scale up her business. Thus, deAsra helped her bring on more regular buyers and gave her confidence to expand her business in future.
Vandana’s story is of struggle, and she faced many a stumbling block on the road to success. But she finally found light at the end of the tunnel through deAsra. Her message to fellow entrepreneurs is to never give up hope and keep the fire of passion burning. Problems and hurdles will always come, but there is always a way out, if only there is determination and persistence.