In 1959, seven Gujarati women kneaded and sundried their dreams in the form of papads, on a building terrace of South Mumbai.
Today, 63 years later, this dream has grown into a company with a net worth of Rs 1,600 crore and 45,000 women employees.
Jaswantiben Popat, 94-year-old Padma Shri awardee, is the only living co-founder of Lijjat Papad. She received the fourth highest civilian award of the country for her distinguished work under the ‘trade and industry’ category.
Started as Shri Mahila Udyog Lijjat Papad, the company is now India’s oldest all-women cooperative. Jaswantiben and six other homemakers pooled in a loan amount of Rs 80 to start off this business. The business grew organically with contributions from women in the neighbourhood. Lijjat Papad soon became a brand that supported women in achieving financial independence.
On the first day of business, the women earned eight annas by selling one kilogram of papad. Thereon, their market expanded slowly but steadily. A plan to support their households with a stable income grew into an unmatchable business idea.
This business model provides opportunity for employment and financial independence to thousands of illiterate but skilled women who live in abject poverty. That is the sole secret behind their success as well.