Chayaa Nanjappa: If You Are Determined, Nothing Is Impossible

A first-generation entrepreneur and founder of Nectar Fresh, Chayaa Nanjappa, built her company from well, nothing! Meet the lady whose venture aims to transform the lives of farmers and tribal women.

By Monali Bordoloi

Chayaa Nanjappa: If You Are Determined, Nothing Is Impossible
Chayaa with her daughter Niyama

Chayaa Nanjappa believes that just like the saying 'Behind every successful man there is a woman', there is also a man behind every successful woman. In her case, it is her husband Rajappa, who has been a pillar of strength and support in her life, enabling her to take her entrepreneurial venture forward.

Chayaa is the woman behind the sweetness on your breakfast table! Yes, the hugely popular agro products brand Nectar Fresh Foods is the brainchild of this phenomenal woman. Set up in 2007, near Mandya on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, the brand is today globally known and recognised. 

Originally from Coorg but now settled in Mysore, Chayaa began with just one product — honey. Today, Nectar Fresh is one of the largest bulk suppliers and packers of quality honey in India. Further, the brand has now expanded into products such as jellies and jams (without preservatives), pure coffee (with no added chicory), chia seeds, apple cider vinegar and more. 

While she is dedicated to building her brand, Chayaa has also consistently aimed at empowering the rural farmers and tribal workers who are an integral part of her work and business. Given that she is also a first-generation entrepreneur, Chayaa has faced her share of challenges. Today, she often shares her experience on various forums to motivate budding entrepreneurs. ParentCircle caught up with the social entrepreneur to know more about her story, how she raises her family and her plans to touch more lives, through her venture. Excerpts:

Also read: Giving Back Ideas for Working Mothers

You are a first-generation entrepreneur. We would love to hear your journey into the world of business.

I was always interested in doing something of my own. And that urge to give back to the society prompted me to start a business, which I felt could also benefit rural farmers. I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was at crossroads in my life. I lost my father early, but my husband has been there like a rock, in all my endeavours. I am lucky to have him as my life partner and am grateful for his unfaltering support.

What would you like to tell women who are looking to set up their own businesses?

If you are planning to take the entrepreneurial route, don’t expect the world to be served to you on a platter. You have to earn your accolades. If you are focused and determined to put in hard work, then nothing can stop you from achieving what you set out to do! With the right amount of determination, patience, hard work and self-belief, you can achieve success in any kind of business that you take on. Nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it.

You had to discontinue your studies due to personal reasons. Is formal education important to do well in life?

A good education always helps. However, if you are unable to complete your studies, it’s not the end of the world. More than 'bookish' knowledge, you need to have practical know-how to go ahead in any field.

Quite frankly, I also feel you don't need formal marketing skills to promote your business. Recently, my venture was the case study for a group of students from a reputed business school. They studied and analysed how our brand grew without any marketing of sorts. If the quality of your products is good, most assuredly you will find your market.

What do you need to build a successful business?

To grow your business, you need the sincere goodwill of all the people involved in the venture. Further, upstanding business ethics goes a long way in establishing your brand. Remember, the quality of the products on offer should never be compromised — consistency in quality is vital to build your brand.

How do you plan to enrich the rural economy with your venture?

We are looking forward to supporting the economically-backwards tribal population by procuring around 200-plus products, including handicrafts and textiles. These unique products are entirely made by tribals communities and we plan to share the profits with them. I am also working on a project where I will set up a spices unit entirely managed by the rural women themselves. 

How does your family handle your busy schedule and success?

Chayaa Nanjappa: If You Are Determined, Nothing Is Impossible
Chayaa with her family

I am blessed to have a supportive husband and an equally understanding and mature seven-year-old daughter, Niyama. Whenever I travel for work, she reassures me saying: “I will be fine, go do your job!” Her name means 'organised' and I am happy that she really is!

As a woman entrepreneur, did you face any challenges?

Not particularly as a woman, but, yes, setting up a business without any guidance and mentoring, was a huge challenge. Even though my aim has always been to promote rural entrepreneurs and boost the rural economy, I struggled enormously to arrange for finances to launch my venture. I could not capitalise on any schemes meant for rural entrepreneurs like me, as there was no one to prepare a project report on my venture.

I do hope and wish that Government schemes should reach to those who deserve them and should encourage women to come up on their own and in turn, help other women.

Surviving in the world of business isn't easy. What keeps you going?

The feeling that you are doing something for society is a big motivating factor for me. I feel proud that due to my association with rural farmers, in a way, I am helping to reverse the trend of farmers migrating to the cities. Through my venture, I also try to educate farmers about the market scenario and aim to empower rural women by encouraging and guiding them to become financially independent.

What are the values you learnt from your parents?

My mother was one of the first women from Coorg to opt for organ donation. So, I inherited that belief in giving back to the society, from her. My parents imbibed in me and my siblings, values such as ethics, simplicity and humility. Luckily, both my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to these values. We want our daughter to imbibe these values as well.

What is your success mantra?

I would say, hard work and focus. Ethics in business also contributes to your success in the long run.

What do you consider your biggest achievement?

To see our brand competing and winning against big, foreign brands, is a great achievement. On a personal level, I feel a sense of achievement when I am invited to speak and share my success story on various forums. Recently, I spoke at the Indian National Science Congress on the use of technology in rural enterprises.

Any other interests, apart from work?

I love gardening, so whenever I get a chance, I try my hand at it. I also enjoy cooking and love catching up with my close group of friends.

What is your message to parents everywhere?

Being a parent is a blessing. My daughter Niyama has brought immense joy to our lives. As parents, it’s our duty to guide them in the right path and not let them become a part of the rat race. Also, travel helps broaden their horizons, so do explore different places. And remember, a small gesture of kindness from you can mean the world to your children.

Hall of fame

  1. Chayaa Nanjappa was named as the CNBC Women Entrepreneur of the Year, 2014-2015.
  2. In 2017, she was a speaker at the Indian Science Congress. 
  3. She travels to many countries, including Afghanistan, to share her experience as a rural entrepreneur.
  4. Asian Productivity Organization (APO), Japan has chosen her as a resource person to speak on marketing agro-based products.
  5. Winner of the ‘Best Entrepreneur Award’ in the field of ‘Food Processing’ from Confederation Of Women Entrepreneurs Of India 2013-2014 (COWE).
  6. Winner of Laghu Udyog Bharati Women Entrepreneur of the year for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector, 2016-17.

Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Chayaa believed in her dreams and had the courage to pursue them till she achieved her goal. Her motto in life is to empower rural folk and make a difference in their lives, while setting up a globally-renowned brand. Here is wishing her much success in all her endeavours!

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