This investment firm is helping rural women in MP build a livelihood by extracting Jamun pulp to make wines
One thing that Dhana Bia Ghod, Sheela Thakur, and Rekha Patel, women coming from different villages in Madhya Pradesh, knew they had to keep doing despite the pandemic was marketing the pulp of Jamun fruit. Grown in abundance in Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, the pulp of the fruit is then sent to Resvera Winery in Nashik, known as the wine capital of India.
The women, who are part of a self-help group (SHG) started by a social worker and local MP Devender Patel, could achieve this feat thanks to investment company Turiya Investments, run by Luke Talwar. These women were introduced to the investment firm by Patel, who got in touch with Luke through common connections.
Women extracting Jamun pulp
“His idea was to get investments to help these women produce the Jamun pulp. Devender encourages different villagers to grow Jamun fruit in their farms and then buy the product from them via collection centres. After a thorough cleaning, they then sort them, de-seed them, and convert it into pulp using the machines,” says 27-year-old Luke.
“Some people also tried to put them down as they’re all women who are doing so well with funding from a modern city, but we took care of everything,” says Hema Singh, the representative of the SHG.
Today, close to 50 women from the SHG are involved in making the pulp.
The winemaking process
To avoid wastage of the fruit, which is known for its anti-ageing and antioxidant properties, the group and the local officials started involving more and more women from the area to procure the fruit from the trees.
Since the food falls under the category of essential items, these women collect Jamuns from the trees in June, which is the season of harvesting. The women procure it from the neighbouring villages and towns, make the pulp, and store it in cold storage.
The pulp is then packed in individual food grade packets and gets frozen to -18 degrees celsius. Everything is then shipped to Nashik for further wine-making process by professionals. As Jamun is just a two-to-three month product, they are also planning to widen their operations with fruits like custard apple, tamarind, etc. These will go through a similar process and will be supplied to companies like ‘Naturals’ for ice cream manufacturing.
“Right now, it’s just black plum, but we are also looking at fruits like custard apple and mangoes to supply them to big ice cream manufacturers,” says Luke.
Rural women collecting Jamun fruit
From architecture to investments
Luke says he was always interested in giving back to society in some way. He started by providing connections and business knowledge to the SHG to plan what they’re doing today.
Devender and Luke met a few people to understand if there are any government grants for the rural women and what best can be done for them. When the proof of concept was done, Luke arranged an investment for them to be able to have all the equipment and cold storage in-house.
While he studied architecture in college, Luke would make several investments in his personal capacity.
“I started saving Rs 5,000 from the pocket money I would get and convert that into Rs 6,00,000 by making small investments. But I also lost all of it by investing in an architecture studio, as the business had to be shut down,” he says.
It was then Luke realised that architecture wasn’t his calling. “One of my mentors then asked me to focus on investing. And then there was no looking back,” adds Luke. He went on to do a diploma in behavioural sciences and human behaviour and also worked with people like Nishant Singhal, Co-founder of YouWeCan Ventures, a non-profit by cricketer Yuvraj Singh.
Through his contacts, Luke has also raised funds from a few HNIs. They earlier used to invest in public funds and a few firms. In the last few months, they have started exploring the private equity market as well.
Empowering women and the road ahead
Luke says it’s a different type of adaptation in the village as everything is new. These women feel happy that they can now contribute to family earnings. Our target is to uplift all the women in the village and make them equals, adds Luke.
Turiya Investments now aims to ensure women become self-sufficient in a few months.
“In some time, they will be capable of helping other women and create a ripple effect. People like Devender are available locally to help them, and if there’s anything more they would need from us, we’re always available,” says Luke.