How to sustainably grow your organic business. Learnings from the journey of industry leaders
With the sixth edition of #organicwebinars series we focussed on Success stories from the Indian organic industry. In the video recording you can listen to six organic industry leaders, our esteemed panellists and learn about exciting business models from Likitha Bhanu, CEO Terra Green Organics, Vishal Bandhari, Founder of SoulTree, N Balasubmanian, CEO Sresta Organics, 24 Mantra, Rohan Grover, NatureBioFoods, Sanjeev Bhatt, Radico and Dr. Thomas Jacob, Adviser, PGS Spices.
Terra Greens Organic - choices for health, farmers and planet (recording from minute 6.55-12.45)
Our first expert is a super successful young lady from Hyderabad. Likitha Bhanu, now CEO of Terra Greens Organic, was inspired by the farming work of her mother. Right after coming home from the university, she thought about how to market the farm products and the family started a small vegetable delivery service in Hyderabad. Likitha´s passion for a sustainable lifestyle and her belief that food is an integral part of it, helped Terra Greens Organic to grow and actively spreading awareness about making right choices not only for ourselves but also, the environment that we live in.
In her organic journey the company started in 2012 with a mission to provide healthy and 100% organic food to the consumer which is not only good for them, but also for the farmers and the planet. It wasn´t the plan to grow so fast and big, Likitha said, "it just happened".
The brand was picked up by retail stores and demand increased. Today Terra Greens works with 12,000 farmers in five states, has more than 100 products in offer and a retail presence in over 1000 outlets and provides employment to over 100 people. Recently, Terra Greens has also forayed into retail under the brand name Green Station and has opened its first organic store in Hyderabad. To describe Terra Greens in just one sentence, Likitha stated: "We are a supply chain company right from the farmer to the customer in a transparent and a sustainable way."
SoulTree - a business contributing to sustainable development (recording from minute 12.45-21.30)
Vishal Bhandari is the Founder and CEO of SoulTree, the first Indian BDIH certified Natural & Organic Ayurveda cosmetic. Vishal left a well-paying job in merchant navy to start his own enterprise. He was deeply influenced by the Earth Charter, a roadmap to actualize the goals of sustainable development. This led him to explore ways of making a business contribute to sustainable development. His encounter with NGOs & women farmers in remote villages of Uttarakhand became a starting point of his journey.
"It was not only a personal journey but also the journey of an organic business that moved up the value chain and culminated in the brand SoulTree, Vishal said.
From facilitating the marketing of organic produce which supported livelihood for these farmers, he went on to help them set-up a processing unit for making Organic Ayurvedic remedies. This is where Vishal tryst with Ayurveda began. There was a need to bring Ayurveda based on organic ingredients to the consumers in a market flooded with industrially produced cheap Ayurvedic products. With a desire to secure a market for the produce of the farmers and to make available genuinely natural & organic beauty products, he began research into making certified natural beauty products using organic Ayurvedic herbs, something that did not exist in India.
2.5 years of hard work paid off and SoulTree became the first brand in India to be certified by BDIH, Germany. Today SoulTree is on its way to become the leading organic Ayurvedic beauty & wellness brand in India and hopefully the world. Vishal continues to work closely with the farmers, some of whom he has known for over 15 years now. The learnings he shared with us were: Organic business takes time, keep encouraging farmers and permanently learn from your experiences, the role of the founder is very important.
Video recording of #organicwebinars edtion 6
Sresta Natural Bioproducts - translate vision into reality (recording from minute 21.30-30.00)
Mr N Balasubramanian (Bala) is the CEO & Director of Sresta Natural Bioproducts Pvt Ltd, the company behind India´s leading organic brand 24 Mantra Organic. The mantra that Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. That has always been Bala´s strength and work philosophy. As a graduate from the Institute of Rural Management, Bala has worked extensively in the Food and Agri space for the last 31 years, creating categories where none existed, Bala has played a pivotal role in the launch and growth of a couple of big brands.
Bala is known amongst his colleagues and friends for his entrepreneurial style of work. Using Consumer insights to convert them to new categories is one of the key strengths. Building and training a team of professionals to achieve these seemingly impossible changes has made him successful.
He believes that Organic Farming can benefit Small and Marginal farmers earn better livelihood and at the same time offer good quality, pesticide free food to millions of consumers. Over the last decade, Sresta has helped create awareness for Organic Food in India and has helped more than 60,000 farmers earn better livelihood. Bala believes that the task has just started and there is a long way to go for an Organic revolution in India.
Nature Bio Foods - building reputation & markets of Indian Organics globally (recording from minute 33.00-44.20)
Rohan Grover, Director of Nature Bio Foods, is a serial entrepreneur and seasoned professional of Agri business. Rohan believes in building the reputation and market of Indian Organics globally. He started his career in 2005, and has built many successful brands over the years and continues to work on sustainable Businesses in Agriculture space. After returning from USA in 2016, Rohan started co-managing Nature Bio Foods, one of the leading Organic Companies in India.
He shared with us the five basic mantras, that worked for Nature bio Foods over the years to establish a successful and sustainable business.
Rohan has established the company´s base in the US and Europe. He is working with some of the best teams in agriculture to bring Indian organic farmers to forefront, implement BioDynamic farming practices in new products, integrate technology with farming and innovate for sustainable growth. A young energetic youth with roots in traditional practices, Rohan remains deeply committed to creating business models that ensure relevance over time and continues to shape the organic food ingredients industry.
Rohan is very passionate about numbers and also showed some statistics that are helpful to discover opportunities and be there at the right time with the right product.
Radico - help people to reveal their inherent beauty naturally (recording from minute 44.20-57.00)
Sanjeev Bhatt, Director of Radico has a professional expertise in Natural and Organic hair colours, which are made of 100% Organic herbs only, nothing else. Radico is the first in World to get organic certification for hair colours by ECOCERT France. Sanjeev started his own business in 1992 with almost zero money and at that time he was just a simple man next door, facing lots of ups and downs. Today he owns an Indian based multinational company with modern manufacturing facilities in India and distribution warehouses and offices in EU and USA, soon in Japan, Africa and Latin America, too. The brand is present in 100+ countries and is growing fast. Sanjeev is a simple down to earth person whose mission is to "help people reveal their inherent beauty naturally". "Dream big, believe in your dream, are passionate about your dream, make your passion a profession, than you can give your best", were his advices. He continued with: "Identify a unique product and present it in a unique way, be honest and ethical, focus and never give up!"
PGS Organic spices - Community based for the future (recording from minute 57-1.11)
Dr Thomas Jacob is Advisor to PGS Spices, largest exporter of spices from India. He was head of the Department of medical plants of the Government of Kerala and Member of the Spice Board before he bacame advisor of the NGO PGS. He always was pasionate about small holders and the ideas of biodynamic farming and ancient farming methods and implemated many of these ideas into PGS. He shared his ideas of sustainable pillars and how the farmers are supported by PGS.