Kaushlendra, Founder, Kaushalya Foundation, Patna
"I spent my life in Patna without having a single penny in my pocket for several days. That was the period when everybody laughed at me and used to make fun of me", recounted Kaushlendra, "Moreover, I had been deemed as a failure. At one point, I was making commitments without knowing how to fulfil them. But I always knew that in the end everything would fall in place."
And that is the belief that has carried Kaushlendra to the giddy heights of the entrepreneur world. His venture, the Kaushalya Foundation, established in 2007, focuses on mobilizing and organizing the informal, fragmented vegetable sector. The Foundation primarily targets poor vegetable growers as well as the vendors and the farm hands from the state of Bihar.
"We have been working towards professionalizing street vendors of vegetables and marginal growers. We want to empower them through our project Samriddhii to help them face the future challenges in the new global economy", explained Kaushlendra.
"Attractive partnerships have been formed between the farmers and the vendors with a focus on shared interests and mutual growth."
The Kaushalya Foundation launched project Samriddhii in Patna in February 2008. They also created a public private partnership with Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA), Patna. However, in order to get such a large project off the ground the Foundation required quite a large sum of money. Thankfully, they managed to acquire a soft loan from the Friends of Women World Banking (FWWB), Ahmedabad. They received a second boost when Punjab National Bank (PNB) agreed to sanctioned Rs. 50 lakh for their project.
At present, the Kaushalya Foundation is a setup consisting of 23 employees spread operating in two states. If they remain on course, Kaushlendra believes they will be be spearheading brand Bihar, a 100cr organisation in 2010. Expansion plans are going according to plan with two new collection centres are scheduled to be commissioned in Fatuha and Ekangar Sarai which will add to the present Patna and Nalanda hubs.
None of this would have been possible if Kaushlendra had adopted the safe path: the run of the mill, 9-5 job. According to him, this was the turning point in his life. Then again, the life of an entrepreneur is never a bed of roses. As we all know, even a moment's distraction could result in a heavy loss. YourStory wondered if Kaushlendra ever meandered towards the cosy, comfort of a regular job. "No, it never came in my mind", he answered, "I was mentally prepared for all the challenges and failures. I learnt in my childhood that failure is the key to success."
At 27, Kaushlendra has a wise head on his broad shoulders. However, he is quick to pay tribute to all his well wishers and those who have helped him along the way. 'A lot of faculties from IIMA have helped us. Our mentor is Prof.Piyush Kumar Sinha, Chairman Centre of Retailing, IIMA, under whose guidance we have been able to travel this so far.'
'Many of my friends from IIMA like Om Prakash Singh, Abhishek Kumar, Vaibhav, Anuj Kumar (NMIMS), Vineeta Singh (IIRM) and many others have really supported us. Not only have they provided strategic input but also financial aid.'
But the biggest influence in Kaushlendra's life has been his mother who has continually encouraged and supported him even in his darkest hour. "She has taught me that success is the by-product of struggle with patience and successful people write history", he explained. But above all, his mother instilled within him the confidence to take on any challenge. Nothing is impossible!
Kaushlendra went on to tell us how his mother made sacrifices for her family and school children of their village. Today she is a primary school teacher in his village and Kaushlendra wants to do her proud.
There is every chance he will as our entrepreneur sits on the brink of greatness. Then again, he is aware of the perils and pitfalls that line the path to success and has taken nothing for granted.
To begin with Kaushlendra wants to ensure that his product is preserved from the moment it leaves the fields to the time it is placed in the hands of the customer. The Kaushalya Foundation have employed an integrated supply chain, coupled with service bundles, to connect and maintain the flow of goods. The biggest advantage that this system offers is waste reduction, greater shelf life and a diminished cost price.
'Our business model is time and people centric. We need people with the right attitude and mindset who believe in our value system. We have been scaling up gradually and recently we have opened our office in Lucknow and we are targeting other metro cities of eastern India in this year', revealed Kaushlendra.
'Samriddh Bihar hai Lakshya Hamara is our mission statement. As a citizen of Bihar , I know what drives the people here.'
YourStory thanks Kaushlendra for sharing his inspiring story with us and our readers. We will keep you up-to-date with all the latest developments in the Kaushalya Foundation.
On a closing note we'd like to reuse an old Donny Osmond quote –
"If you're climbing the ladder of life, you go rung by rung, one step at a time. Don't look too far up, set your goals high but take one step at a time. Sometimes you don't think you're progressing until you step back and see how high you've really gone."