How these farmers' sons defied all odds to build successful businesses
Society places a lot of emphasis on an individual’s background. Many people are written off even before getting a chance to prove themselves because of their past, their roots. However, there are a few people who have proven time and again that everything is possible when you are aligned with your mission or purpose in life.
SMBStory lists the inspiring stories of these entrepreneurs who have agricultural backgrounds but have gone on to break several barriers to build scalable businesses.
Every morning, a young Raj Darji would watch his father, the Late Ishwarbhai Darji, go to his farm to tend to his crops.
Based in Ablauva, a village near Mehsana in Gujarat, the young boy would occasionally accompany his father and watch him harvest crops with the help of other workers. What struck him was the way his father treated the farm labour.
“The farm labour in our village particularly looked forward to working for my father. When I asked him why, he told me that since he takes care of them well, they take care of him in return,” Raj says.
These words left a lasting impression on the young boy, and went on to shape and define his entrepreneurial journey.
Many years later, after moving to Bharuch and then Visnagar, Raj pursued his engineering in IT, and went on to work in the US with Oracle, Hyundai Motors America, and Siemens, among other companies, between 2007 and 2011.
In 2012, he came back to India to start a product engineering and IT consulting services firm, Aarav Solutions, which he registered in Ahmedabad.
Though Raj doesn’t disclose his business’ current revenue, but adds that Aarav Solutions has over 130 employees and has corporate locations in India, the US, and Canada. Since inception, the company has been growing at 100 percent year-on-year.
Two Brothers Organic Farm
Ajinkya and Satyajit Hange
Going back to the roots and starting something from scratch isn’t easy. However, after spending almost a decade working in the corporate sector, two brothers – Satyajit and Ajinkya Hange – found their true calling in the agricultural sector.
“I was working with Citibank and Ajinkya was with HSBC. We had worked with a few corporates by then, and later, we realised that we didn’t want to do this,” Satyajit tells SMBStory.
Satyajit further adds that his father did not want them to pursue farming as it had become “unsustainable, uneconomical and socially not acceptable”. Satyajit says that despite living in cities like Mumbai, Gurugram and Pune, he and his brother were drawn to their roots.
A little before 2013, the brothers quit their high-paying jobs and shifted base to their native village. They decided to explore organic farming, mixing their passion for farming with the business acumen they had developed.
With land inherited from their father and ancestors, and using their personal savings, they started Two Brothers Organic Farm as a seed-to-shelf organic products company in 2014.
Using sustainable farming methods to grow different crops, and thereafter, manufacture and sell different organic products, they generated a turnover of Rs 12 crore in FY21.
Established in 2004 from a second-hand shed that no one wanted to rent because of a fire accident earlier, Tool Tech Toolings is a well-known name in machine tools employing 400 people and recorded revenue of Rs 82 crore in the pandemic year.
Founded by Sunil Kirdak in Aurangabad who had a dream to build a world-class factory, the path to building a successful business wasn’t easy as he says,
“Dreaming big is not the foundation on which middle-class aspirations are built in India."
Son of farmers from Adas village in Beed district in Maharashtra, Sunil says he draws inspiration from both his parents. His mother took up the family’s farming occupation in the initial years when his father expressed his desire to study.
The family moved to Aurangabad when Sunil was six.
From leaving a 9-5 job to a broken partnership, Sunil went through his own set of struggles before starting his own business and it took him years to today have marquee clients like Bajaj Auto, Honda, Yamaha, TVS, Volkswagen, Skoda, Royal Enfield, and Siemens.
Additionally, in 2012, his parents returned to their village where they practice progressive farming involving innovative drip irrigation and have become profit-making farmers in the village. Today, they are assisting other farmers to adopt new farming techniques.
Having grown up under the shade of coconut trees, Madhu Kargund, son of a farmer, remained deeply attached to his roots. His company Tengin, which translates to coconut in Kannada, is aimed towards uplifting the community of farmers and is the perfect example of being vocal for local.
Madhu hails from a small region called Arsikere in the Hassan district of Karnataka. Belonging to a farming family, Madhu spent his childhood learning about coconuts.
When he grew up, Madhu realised that the condition of farmers was dismal. He also realised that farming was not giving them a sustainable livelihood, and many people were abandoning agriculture altogether and migrating to cities in search of livelihood.
Three problems that Madhu particularly identified were the lack of a stable income, no takers for the produce, and no avenues for upskilling for farmers.
Since coconut is present in abundance in the southern parts of the country, and Madhu grew up around them, he saw a business opportunity that could also be leveraged for the benefit of the farmers.
The Bengaluru-headquartered company is a coconut-centric brand that makes coconut products like virgin coconut oil, chips (fried in coconut oil), bowls made out of coconut shells, soaps, and much more. The brand uses traditional methods to manufacture these products with the help of villagers and locally sourced coconuts.
Madhu doesn't want to disclose the turnover but adds there are approximately ten categories of products that are priced between Rs 100 and Rs 850.
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