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Lijjat Papad Success Story: How Seven Women Created An Iconic Brand Loved By Millions Of Indians With Just Rs 80

BusinessLijjat Papad Success Story: How Seven Women Created An Iconic Brand Loved By Millions Of Indians With Just Rs 80

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NEW DELHI: For decades, women in India were confined to traditional roles as homemakers, while the world of business was predominantly considered a male domain. However, in 1959, seven determined Gujarati women shattered these stereotypes by joining forces to establish a brand that is now cherished by people not only in India but across the globe. The product in question – Papad – a crispy accompaniment to Indian meals and a popular snack, is the result of the hard work and determination of these seven visionary women who rose from humble beginnings, dared to dream and achieved greatness. This is the incredible journey of Lijjat Papad, a company that began with a mission to empower women and has since become a leading FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) enterprise.

The Genesis

 

Lijjat Papad, formally known as Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, is headquartered in India and specializes in manufacturing a diverse range of consumer products. Its origin story traces back to 1959 when seven women in Mumbai embarked on this venture with a noble goal: to create employment opportunities for women. With a meagre initial capital of just Rs 80, the company achieved an astonishing annual revenue of over Rs. 1600 crore by 2019, according to media reports. These visionary women were Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat, Parvatiben Ramdas Thodani, Ujamben Narandas Kundalia, Bhanuben N. Tanna, Laguben Amritlal Gokani, Jayaben V. Vithalani, and Diwaliben Lukka.

From Modest Beginnings To Nationwide Presence

 

Lijjat commenced as a small-scale urban enterprise but soon expanded its footprint to rural areas. It stands as a shining example of female-led entrepreneurship, dedicated to promoting women’s empowerment in India. Their journey began on March 15, 1959, on the rooftop of their building, where they started crafting four packs of papads. Without seeking financial aid or assistance, these women made a pact to rely solely on their determination, even in times of adversity. Within just three months, their team grew to 25 members, all engaged in papad production. The profits were invested in purchasing utensils, cabinets, stoves, and other essential equipment. Broken papads were distributed among their neighbours, symbolizing their unwavering commitment to their community.

Expanding Horizons

 

In 1968, Lijjat established its first branch outside of Maharashtra in Valod, Gujarat. Encouraged by the success of their papads, the company diversified into producing items such as khakhra, masala papad, vadi, wheat atta, and bakery goods. Additional divisions, including printing and polypropylene packaging, were set up in 1977 and 1978, respectively. Flour mills were also introduced in the 1970s. While some ventures, like incense sticks (agarbattis) and cottage leather, faced challenges, their papads maintained consistent quality. An astounding 45,000 women across India produced 4.8 billion papads with consistent flavours.

Going Global

 

Today, the Lijjat Papad Company operates 82 branches across 17 states in India. They export their products to more than 25 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, countries in the Middle East, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada, Australia, and South Africa, among others.

Empowering Women

 

Lijjat’s growth is not just a business success story but also a testament to women’s empowerment. The organization has taken various initiatives to encourage its member sisters and their families to pursue education, including computer literacy. On June 18, 1999, literacy courses were launched at Girgaum as part of their ongoing efforts.

Honouring A Visionary


One of the founders of Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, the entrepreneurial force behind various fast-moving consumer items, is Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat. Her contributions were recognized with the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour, in the trade and industry category on January 26, 2021, by the Indian government.

A Legacy of Empowerment

 

Lijjat has not only stood the test of time but has also continued to be a symbol of empowerment for women. It remains one of India’s most popular and bestselling papad brands, a legacy crafted by extraordinary women who dared to dream and achieve greatness.

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