This Kashmiri woman entrepreneur sells homemade sugar-free dry fruit sweets with the help of social media

Rida Sajad, a 37-year-old housewife from Kashmir Valley has become popular for her homemade sugar-free dry fruit sweets brand, Shireen-E-Yemberzal. She also wants to promote healthy eating habits among children.
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Rida Sajad, a 37-year-old housewife from Kashmir Valley started a business of homemade sugar-free dry fruit sweets to promote healthy eating habits.An emerging self-made entrepreneur, Rida has named her sweet business unit - Shireen-E-Yemberzal, which means sweet flower.

Rida Sajad, founder of Shireen-E-Yemberzal

She engages with her customers on her Instagram handle @shireeneyemberzal.

Rida is a mother of two sons. Hailing from Bemina area of Srinagar, she currently lives with her family in Noida. She has a BSc in physiotherapy from Oxford College, Bengaluru.

Rida has been fond of cooking since her childhood days, and it was this passion and experimentation with different foods led to the business venture.

“I am very fond of cooking different varieties of food for my family. One day, I tried my hand at sugar-free dry fruit sweets. It was an instant hit with both my family and neighbours. This prompted me to think of starting a homemade sweets business to cater to health-conscious people,” she tells HerStory.

In October 2020, Rida sold her first product, and since then, there has been no looking back.

Rida adds: “As a Kashmiri, I know what people eat, what is being sold in the market and the consequences of unhealthy diets. Therefore, I thought of giving people something sweet but healthy. Keeping the “health” part in focus, I decided to make dry fruit sweets without adding any artificial ingredient or colour. I have also seen our children eating junk food like chocolates, chips, snacks, and wafers. We should feed them dry fruits and sugar-free chocolates instead and teach them healthy eating habits.”

Rida claims that she uses only natural ingredients to make her sweets. “I use dry fruits, different types of seeds and nuts, ghee and saffron. Besides these, I also use grains like ragi, jowar, and bajra. When I say sugar-free, it means the products are also free from sugar syrup, honey and jaggery. I do not use any preservatives, taste enhancers or additives. I chop and crush dates, apricots, and figs to extract the juice and mix them with the dry fruit sweets,” she says.

Sweets for the health conscious

She sources her ingredients through various dry fruit dealers. She gets dry fruits like almonds and walnuts from her relatives’ orchards.

“I do the dry fruit shopping myself to ensure that I get the best quality.”

Her husband, Sajad Sultan, helps her in the business. "Sajad helps me with registration and quality checks of the products. My sons paste labels on the packs, and my mother-in-law chips in with the chopping of dry fruits. The packaged items get delivered through courier companies.”

Eighty percent of Rida’s customers are from the Valley, and 20 percent come from other states of India.

“I am overwhelmed by the response. On an average, I receive 7-8 orders per day and sometimes I even receive up to 15 orders per day. I am now planning to open a store in Kashmir. The business is doing great, and so far, I can generate one lakh rupees per month as profit. I think every woman should do something and start a homemade business,” she says.

Apart from dry fruit sweets, Rida also sells immunity bars and lactation bites for mothers who breastfeed.

One can also order sweets that boost immunity - containing antioxidants, minerals, and proteins.

Rida’s days are busy as she works towards fulfilling orders for weddings, engagements, and other family functions.

Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan

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