Small-scale enterprises can win big. Thaslim, a modest entrepreneur from Edayannur near Thalasseri, has developed a manufacturing facility for traditional snacks and found a big market spread over the northern Kerala districts and even parts of Karnataka.
Thaslim has been making Kerala-style snacks such as banana chips, jaggery-coated chips and various types of mixtures. His enterprise, named M P K Foods, receives orders from all over northern Kerala but he said he could not keep up with the orders.
“I had been distributing Elite bread. I bought a vehicle to run the agency. I had the task of distributing bread only on alternate days. I was free on the other days. I wanted to do something in my spare time. That is how I chanced upon the idea,” he said.
He started out by making various types of mixtures in a room near his house. He relied on a wood-fired oven to make the snacks. There was only one assistant in the initial days. Even though he tapped only local markets, he could sell products worth Rs 50,000 on an average.
When markets expanded, he increased production. The company now operates out of a 1,500 square feet building that Thaslim has taken on rent. He has bought machinery for about Rs 10 lakh. He employs nine workers in addition to the manpower for distribution. His monthly turnover has touched Rs 10 lakh.
He sources all his ingredients from two agencies in the locality. They include rice flour, gram flour, peanuts, banana, oil, chillies, spices, grains, salt, sugar and packing materials. He is assured of smooth availability of raw materials and his suppliers are even willing to offer them in credit.
He sells his products across Kannur, Kasaragod and Wayanad districts and even some places in the neighbouring Karnataka. Kerala government agency Supplyco is a steady customer.
Thaslim said that he is not affected by rising competition in the sector. In fact, he is unable to supply to all the places where demand is robust. He has been getting queries from Palakkad and Malappuram districts, he added.
So what made him click? His strategy is based on an uncompromising attitude on the quality of the ingredients and an insistence on hygienic conditions of production and packaging. He makes it a point to deliver the products within two days of packing. He said he never recycles cooking oil.
He has never felt the need for cutting prices but he is ready to offer credit for up to a month. The distributors pay him regularly and the customers stay loyal and happy.
“I want to set up another plant to increase production,” said Thaslim. “That may help me to expand the market to more districts. May be I could hire 25 more people,” he added.
Enterprises such as this one can be started by anyone without any prior knowledge or huge investment. You can set up a modest endeavour at your home after registering with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Even if you sell products of Rs 3 lakh, you are assured of a net profit of Rs 60,000. You could employ two people in the initial stage.