“The cost of pursuing entrepreneurship for me was not getting a job,” says Geetha, the 39-year-old mother and founder of Home To Home Foods.
On the occasion of World Braille Day, we had a conversation with Geetha, a visually challenged woman entrepreneur from Kerala who inspired us with her journey.
Almost five years ago, Geetha was searching for a job. She applied in the private as well as the public sector. She appeared for exams but faced rejection everywhere. Geetha is 100% blind but can easily work once she gets familiar with the new environment. The employers thought that she was not worthy of a job (including the job of a telephone operator). Dejected, she gave up on her job search and started contemplating ways to start something of her own and create jobs.
Geetha was not new to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Almost 10 years ago, she and her husband Saeesh started a restaurant in Thrissur. She learnt the intricacies of the food business. Now, with rejections on her platter, Geetha knew very well that the only way to move ahead is by restarting her journey with entrepreneurship.
With the support of her family, Geetha started selling hens and quail eggs to local shops. As time progressed, the demand for her products increased and business grew. Unfortunately, it was then that the lockdown came. Shops closed their shutters and Geetha lost all her clients in no time.
Without sparing a moment in distress, Geetha started collecting milk from the local dairy farms, churned it and produced homemade ghee. She sold it online through WhatsApp groups and Facebook. While her customers were extremely satisfied with the quality of her ghee, Geetha had other plans in her basket.
Geetha’s family used to make Curcumeal twice or thrice a year. With the objective of taking Curcumeal to every household, Geetha started studying turmeric, visited the Indian Institute of Spices Research (ICAR) and discussed the ingredients of Curcumeal with several research scholars. It’s through the constant mentorship and the knowledge she imbibed from those research scholars that she found the perfect recipe for Curcumeal. Today, her Curcumeal reached more than 800 customers across India.
Apart from being an entrepreneur, Geetha is also a mother. During the lockdown, she has to prepare food for business and then look after her children. At times, things became hectic. While Geetha invested full-time in her business, her husband had a job where he could work till evening, while Geeta would work from evening till night.
Her children helped her pack and label the orders. Gaya, their daughter, helped Geetha with internet banking, managing payments, collecting funds, talking with the customers and managing social media. To make technology convenient for her mother, Gaya devised a talkback system in her mother’s smartphone that enabled her mother to keep herself updated with her smartphone.
At a time when employers trusted her shortcomings and not her abilities, Geetha turned all those shortcomings into her strengths to create a strong enterprise. Today, even after several lockdowns, she hasn’t given up. Her inspiring journey has sparked a discourse around the need to make our ecosystems more inclusive for women as well as the differently-abled.