Written by Monali Bordoloi and published on 31 May 2021.
A first-generation entrepreneur and public speaker, Chayaa Nanjappa, built her company from nothing. Meet the lady whose venture aims to transform the lives of farmers and tribal women
Chayaa 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 Nanjappa is the woman behind a popular agro-products brand.
Originally from Coorg, now settled in Mysore, Chayaa began her journey as an entrepreneur in a small way. Today, her brand is making its presence globally.
While Chayaa is dedicated to building her brand, she is 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 along the way.
Now, Chayaa often shares her experience on various forums to motivate budding entrepreneurs, especially women 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.Q. You are a first-generation entrepreneur. Tell us about your journey into the world of business...
A: I was always interested in doing something of my own. And that urge to give back to society prompted me to start a business, which I felt could also benefit rural farmers. I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was at a crossroads in my life. I lost my father early, who always encouraged me to chart out my own path. After marriage, I found a good companion in my husband who has been there like a rock in all my endeavors. I am lucky to have him as my life partner and am grateful for his unfaltering support.
Q. What would you like to tell women who are looking to set up their own businesses?
A: 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.
Q. You had to discontinue your studies due to personal reasons. Is a formal education important to do well in life?
A: 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 the practical know-how to go ahead in any field.
Frankly speaking, I feel you don't need formal marketing skills to promote your business. Recently, my venture was a case study for a group of students from a reputed business school. They studied and analyzed how our brand grew without any marketing of sorts. If the quality of your products is good, most assuredly you will find your market.
Q. What do you need to build a successful business?
A: To grow your business, you need the sincere goodwill of all the people involved in the venture. Further, outstanding 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 building your brand.
Q. How do you plan to enrich the rural economy with your venture?
A: We are looking forward to supporting the economically backward 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.
Q. How does your family handle your busy schedule and success?
A: 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, Mama, I will be fine, go do your job!" Niyama means organized and I am happy that she really is!
Q. Did you face any challenges as a woman entrepreneur?
A: Not particularly as a woman, but 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 capitalize 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.
Q. What keeps you motivated?
A: 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.
Q. What are the values you learned from your parents?
A: My mother was one of the first women from Coorg to opt for organ donation. So, I inherited that belief in giving back to 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 can only wish that our daughter also imbibe these values as well.
Q. What is your success mantra?
A: I would say, hard work and focus. Ethics in business also contributes to your success in the long run.
Q. What do you consider your biggest achievement?
A: 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.
Q. Any other interests, apart from work?
A: Like most people from Coorg, 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.
Q. What is your message to parents everywhere?
A: 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 on 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.
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