From brands working with farmers to Indian handloom gaining attention, the top SMB stories of this week
The organic food space in India has drastically changed in the last decade. According to the Organic Trade Association, 52 percent of organic consumers are millennials.
The switch to handcrafted and slow fashion has also seen a rise, with plenty of brands reviving dying traditions and helping artisans earn a livelihood. The handicrafts sector is crucial to the Indian economy, as it is a huge employment generator, and accounts for a significant share of the country’s exports.
This week SMBStory covered the journeys of 24 Mantra Organic, The Indian Ethnic Co, EKKI Group and Birla Precision Technologies Ltd, and understood how these companies have evolved over the years to stay relevant.
24 Mantra Organic
Founded by Rajashekhar Reddy Seelam in 2004, 24 Mantra Organic ships more than 1.5 million units of its products to over a million customers in India buying monthly and another million to about 50 countries with chemical-free, no preservatives, and organic food.
In 2007, the company received its Organic Certification for Euro 2092/91 standards, US NOP, and Indian NPOP organic standards, and 24 Mantra Organic was officially introduced in the retail market in 2008.
24 Mantra Organic introduced itself to the market with 150 products, including cereals like pulses and rice, flour, spices, and more.
Working directly with farmers and sourcing agricultural produce from them, 24 Mantra Organic ensures they are compensated well with a focus on their sustainability and standard of living.
The company’s farming model is currently organised into about 30 projects, and is designed in such a manner that each project is spread around 15-20 kilometres, covering a few 100 to 1,000 acres.
Bala claims that farmers associated with 24 Mantra Organic earn anywhere between 10 to 20 percent more because of their practices.
The Indian Ethnic Co
Founded in 2016 by mother-daughter duo Hetal and Lekhinee Desai, The Indian Ethnic Co is a sustainable fashion brand offering handcrafted apparel and lifestyle products created by rural artisans from across India.
The company was started as a passion project from a bedroom in the family home. It now runs three offices, ships products worldwide, and sustains the livelihoods of 1000 artisans.
The company deals in handcrafted fabrics like Ajrakh, Bandhani, Bagh, Batru, Balotra, Dabu, Sanganeri, and more. It aims to revive the dying smaller handicrafts that is yet not explored by the people.
Other top picks of the week:
Birla Precision Technologies ltd
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagging off the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign last year with the clarion call for going “vocal for local,” Indian businesses and entrepreneurs have been looking to substitute imports and focus on India’s self-reliance with homegrown products.
Riding this wave is one of India’s oldest cutting and engineering tools company Birla Precision Technologies Limited (BPTL). BPTL has been developing new heavyweight engineering products required by various Indian industries, and helps them reduce dependence on imports. Vedant Birla, Chairman and MD, BPTL, tells SMBStory:
“We have taken the PM’s call for Atmanirbhar Bharat seriously and have stepped up production, primarily in the drill segment where there was a huge influx of cheaper, low-quality tools from China. We invested Rs 45-50 crore to expand this line which will help the hardware and agriculture industries in India.”
Established in 1937, BPTL is based in Maharashtra and is headquartered in Mumbai. Its roots stem from the Birla group’s founding father, Raja Baldeo Das Birla, whose legacy has led locally subsistent Birla companies to transform into global manufacturing businesses, and put India on the map across sectors.
A pioneer in manufacturing industrial and engineering tools for auto components, the business is looking to pave the way forward for growth and sustenance of the domestic market through indigenous manufacturing and supply.
In 1980, P Arumugam, who hails from Kottur, a small village in Tamil Nadu, moved to Coimbatore to pursue his higher studies. He studied mathematics and was an agriculturist at heart, but set his sights on entrepreneurship.
Arumugam’s uncle, KK Veluchamy, suggested he open a shop selling spare parts for pumps, and in 1981, the duo and their friend, MS Sundaram, launched Deccan Pumps.
Gradually, the small group diversified into manufacturing other products such as jet pumps, submersible motors, centrifugal monoblocs, borehole submersibles etc. The company also underwent several changes as Arumugam acquired the group completely and became the sole owner, which paved the way for a larger holdings company called EKKI Group, which comprises four companies: Deccan Pumps, Deccan Enterprises, EKKI HOMA and EKKI Pumps.
This happened in the year 2013.
Today, the company is handled completely by Arumugam and his son, Kanishka Arumugam, who affirms that EKKI has evolved from being just a pump manufacturer to a water technology company.
After being in the pump manufacturing business for long, Kanishka shares that EKKI is determined to pivot towards providing clean drinking water and sanitation.