The Papad-Pickle Way to Progress
The Mahila Samarthya Gruh Udyog Trust set up by Afsar Usmani has the core objective to create a society of regional Muslim women who desire to work, but are devoid of opportunities.
In the modern corporate world, selfishness and ownership are the dominant traits. The richer are becoming richer and the poor and needy are unable to even help themselves to bare necessities.
Afsar Usmani, 45, a dynamic textile designer, taking time out of his busy schedule, thought about one of the most vulnerable sections of our society-the Muslim women. A few months ago, Afsar Usmani launched an initiative aimed at creating an opportunity for hardworking Muslim women, who have become dependant for alms and charities and are not able to meet their basic needs. The core objective was to create a society of regional Muslim women who desire to work, but are devoid of opportunities.
To achieve the objective of generating employment for the deprived Muslim women, Afsar Usmani set up a charitable organisation in Mumbai, whose entire manufacturing operations is handled by Muslim women and the marketing, sales and distribution work is executed by industry professionals.
The organisation, named as Mahila Samarthya Gruh Udyog Trust, undertakes manufactur-ing and distribution of food products under the brand name ‘Lazeez. The product’s unique selling proposi-tion (USP) is longer shelf life and taste. The organisation has already started its initial operations with manufacturing of Papads and extends its product range to Pickles and Rotis, for industries.
To avail various schemes available for the Muslim minority, the Mahila Samarthya Gruh Udyog Trust is registered under a charitable organisation, and Khadi Village Industrial Commission Board (KVICB).
Afsar Usmani opines that the charitable factor will ensure that no unwanted or political figure can intervene and the control remains in proper hands.
“The society registration is more to do with industrial rules in mind and the most important benefit can be that any Muslim woman who is not dedicated and regular to work, can be suspended from duty. This is also to ensure that the project does not collapse and dedicated Muslim women do not lose their employment, just because of the apathy of a few women. The Board will invite benefits under sales tax, income tax, excise and other government policies,” said Afsar Usmani.
The unique feature of the Mahila Samarthya Gruh Udyog Trust is its business plan- low investment with high employment generation. The organisation started with a budget of Rs. 5 lakhs. The production is allotted Rs 1.5 lakhs as an installation and operational cost, marketing and sales gets Rs 1.5 lakhs and the rest for stocks of raw material and finished goods.
Currently, the Mahila Samarthya Gruh Udyog Trust has employed 50 women and has the potential to increase it further when more funds are invested. To maintain the transparency, the company account is operated on a joint account basis and all payments from material to salary to commission, is paid through cheques.
To survive in the tough market and competition, Mahila Samarthya Gruh Udyog Trust has decided to keep overheads to the minimum by acquiring space on rental basis. Also to curtail employee salary on marketing and sales, a professional promoting/selling organisation shall be involved on profit sharing basis.
The Mahila Samarthya Gruh Udyog Trust decided to focus on the product quality. “We want our product to be one of the best in the market in its category. That is the reason we decided to execute a promotional event with a small prize of Rs.5,000 for the best papad formulation. We received many entries. We selected the best. This also promoted the organisation before we started the operations,” said Afsar Usmani.
Small investment does not mean low quality products. In fact, the Mahila Samarthya Gruh Udyog Trust is focusing on modern manufacturing practices like GMP (good manufacturing practices) hygiene, sanitation and product review on a daily basis. “These initiatives are implemented to ensure consistent and good quality products at all times. A training camp for Muslim women is held before they are enrolled for the job. They are also being taught on how to achieve a specific size of the product in certain weight which is important to achieve good profits,” explains Afsar Usmani.
Keeping in mind, the future prospects, a detailed report is made to maintain shelf life and quality improvements. A food technologist is taken as a consultant for upgrading the product formulation, keeping in mind the feedback received from the consumers.
How has the Trust been able to sell its product in a tough market? “We do not have a policy of credit, and only operate on cash sale basis. We have chosen the route of direct marketing, institutions sale, order booking and door –to- door sale, which is executed by the affiliate employees on daily basis or contract basis,” confirms Afsar Usmani.
The initiative like Mahila Samarthya Gruh Udyog Trust is welcome. There are a slew of schemes by various official agencies for the Muslim minority. We need to educate the people and launch more such organisations, generating employment at the grassroot level.
The success of Mahila Samarthya Gruh Udyog Trust is because of the confidence and efforts of its founder, Afsar Usmani. So what is important is not the size of the initiative, but the person or the people behind the initiative.