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The inspiring story of THE LIJJAT PAAPAD

Jatin Khurana

August 7, 2022

From a borrowed capital of Rs 80 to Rs 1500 crores in annual revenue, this is the success story of women empowerment. Across every state in India, this product is a household name. However, while most of us have had the classic retreat at least once in our lives, few are aware of the inspirational success story behind the fantastic business, which was founded by seven ladies on their rooftop with a meagre investment of Rs 80 borrowed for the original raw material. It was churning out a whopping Rs 1,600 crore turnover in 2019, co-owned by 45,000 women (2021) who create 4.8 million papads per day, sixty years later. The women began with four packs on the first day and sold over Rs 6,000 worth of papads in the first year. After winning a cash prize contest, the brand name 'Lijjat' was selected in 1962. At the time, the turnover was approaching Rs 2 lakh. Lijjat came up with a unique women empowerment model whereby any woman who wanted a source of income could become a member and start earning money by rolling a papad or helping out with the kneading of dough, packing or quality control function. Women could take the dough home, roll it into papads in their leisure time and return it the next day after collecting their payment. Lijjat accepted all its working members as owners and every member had an equal share in the profit and loss of their branch. All women who worked for Lijjat were fondly referred to as “Lijjat sisters” They gradually developed from a few hundred to thousands of women who produced the goods and earned a share of the profits. The brand grew over a six-decade period, propelled by regional media coverage, to empower over 42,000 women by 2002, and 45,000 by 2021. The company has 82 locations and exports to nations such as the United States and Singapore. After serving over the years with the tremendous success with their papads, Lijjat began producing other products in the 1970s like Khakhra, masala, vadi, wheat atta and bakery products. It also set up flour mills, printing division and polypropylene packing division. It also produces other items such as detergent soap and rotis. Men are only hired as drivers, store assistants, and helpers by the organisation. The framework is set up in such a way that the persons who roll the papads learn to control it. Their president, Swati Ravindra Paradkar, is a second-generation co-owner who began rolling papads with her mother at the age of ten after the death of her father. She remarked last year, "Some of our ladies make more than their husbands — and their families respect them for it." Out of this strong belief in quality delivered at an affordable price comes an act of ignoring competitors. Lots of companies selling papads have come and gone. It doesn’t consider them, it only does its own thing, not taking into consideration what the competition is doing. What we can learn from this amazing story of Lijjat Papad is that if your product quality is good, consumers will buy. Its quality does not differ whether it is for exports or for the local market. There is just one quality. And that’s good quality. Again and again and again! These powerful women taught us one lesson- To push the boundaries, even when they push back. And we are more powerful when we empower each other. Being a good ally, friend, co-worker or leader means empowering those around you….