Lijjat Papad Story: The 7 Indian Women Entrepreneurs Who Sold 5.5 Billion Papad

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Lijjat Papad, a well-known papad brand globally, surprisingly, had a very humble beginning. Founded in 1959 by seven typical Indian women – who later found their identity as Indian Women Entrepreneurs Lijjat Papad has grown into a multi-million dollar papad business. Empowering women worldwide and earning respect in the business world, it will surely surprise you that this business was started with Rs 80 only. Learn more in this Lijjat Papad Story.

Lijjat Papad Story Origins:

It all began in 1950s when Seven Gujarati women in Mumbai, passionate about cooking, received a loan of Rs 80 in the 1950s.

lijjat papad story old photographs
Lijjat Papad Story Origin: The 7 Indian Women Entrepreneurs

The seven women entrepreneurs Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat, Parvatiben Ramdas Thodani, Ujamben Narandas Kundalia, Banuben. N. Tanna, Laguben Amritlal Gokani, Jayaben V. Vithalani, and Diwaliben Lukka who founded the papad brand bought a struggling papad company, and using the Loan amount Rs 80 invested in tools and equipment to kickstart their journey.

Each woman brought a different ingredient like urad dal flour, pepper, asafoetida, and spices from their home to make the papad. They worked together, making the dough and rolling out the papads. They sold the papads in their neighborhood and earned some money.

As more women joined, they made even more papads and earned more money. Eventually, about 200 women were making papads, and they spread to other cities and states. After six years, they officially started their business, which was a surprising and unique way to do business.

The goal was to create employment opportunities for women. But who knew, that this kind initiative will breed a multi-crore corporation.

How Lijjat Papad is Made?

Lijjat Papad is made from urad dal flour, seasoned with spices like asafoetida, pepper, and salt. The ingredients also include Papadkhar (an alkaline substance used in papad making), edible vegetable oil, and other spices. The process involves roasting them on an open flame, which gives the papads a fluffy and crunchy texture, making them tasty appetizers.

So, they’re basically thin, crispy snacks made from a mixture of urad dal flour and flavorful spices, cooked over an open flame. Despite how easy the recipe is, people still prefer to order the papad instead of making it at home. Well, it is primarily because the papad is easy to cook but hard to prepare. But Lijjat papad founders solved this problem and began supplying ready-to-cook snacks worlwide.

No Marketing, Word-of-Mouth Sales

lijit papad success story

Most startups today are spending 10-15% of their revenue in marketing. But back then Lijjat Papad focused on staying cooperative in the early days, initially welcoming young girls, later raising the age limit to eighteen. Within two-three months, 200 women were making papads. The company became popular, not because people the founders began marketing their product but primarily because their women workforce was now becoming a self-marketer of the product.

Papad taste and its local flavor was another contributor as local people were loving the taste, and the papad brand became popular. Media stories and word-of-mouth spread, bringing the cooperative recognition. However, another reason was, only a few or no Indian Women Entrepreneurs were in the news. Second, more women were interested in doing business with them.

Brand With “Only Women” Team

Lijjat papad work from home working women
Lijjat Papad Story: The Indian Women Papad Making Work From Home

Since the first ground breaking sales, the brand’s workforce grew rapidly, reaching 300 within three years of its inception. As of 2021, the company employs 45,000 women across India. And the best part, no women works in-house or at the factory. All women takes the raw material from 82 branches of the corporation spread in 17 states of India.

These women go back their home, prepare the dough, make the papad, dry them on their terris, pack them and once the papad are prepared, delivery boy arrives to take papad from these ladies. Men are only hired as drivers, shop assistants, or errand boys.

According to some sources, these women earn usually between ₹10,000 to ₹15,000, and some even earn more than their husbands. The amount they get paid depends on how much papad they make and their job in the company. So, the more they work, the more money they can earn – that’s too without leaving their home.

Branding in 1962

In 1962, the business officially branded its products as Lijjat, meaning “tasty” in Gujarati and was easy to pronounce. And gradually the annual sales of the papad business in 1962-1963 soared to Rs 1,82,000. Right now the company is running as women worker’s corporative manufacturers with its formal name Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad.

Made Only Rs 6,196 in First Year Sale

In its first year, Lijjat Papad made Rs 6,196 in sales, and surprisingly that’s too by sharing damaged raw papads with neighbors. But recently 2022 company annual sale was Rs 1600 crore, which is over $224 million in a year.

 Lijjat Papad Founder Owner
2021 President Kovind honored Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat with the Padma Shri for her contributions to trade and industry as a founder of Lijjat Papad a women’s cooperative.

As of February 25, 2023, Lijjat Papad sends its yummy snacks to 15 different countries. Some of these countries are Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Tanzania. Yes, it isn’t popular in India alone.

$300 Billion in Revenue: A Milestone of Lijjat Papad Story

By 2002, Lijjat achieved $300 billion in total revenue, exporting Rs 10 billion and employing 42,000 people in 62 divisions across the country. As of 2022, Lijjat Papad’s net worth stands at Rs 1,600 crore.

Having sold over 5.5 billion papads, Lijjat Papad story continues to be a symbol of success, impacting the lives of thousands of Indian Women Entrepreneurs and standing as a testament to the power of simplicity and determination.

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Sahil Dhimaan
Sahil Dhimaan

Hi, Sahil Dhimaan this side. I'm a passionate about entrepreneurship, startup, business, online marketing, innovative tech and online business growth.