Business with a divine face

Business with a divine face

The traditional culinary art of women has reached its pinnacle of glory and a level of divinity at Kavali in terms of versatility and longevity. Four members of the Balaji SHG in the 9th Ward of Kavali Municipality set a new record in their business and contract agreements. M/s Sujatha, Manjula, Tarangini and Bharathi carved a niche for themselves representing the Anusha Canteen, a catering agency established by them a few years ago. Two years earlier to the establishment of the Canteen all of them joined Balaji SHG acting at the behest of the local municipal counselor.

The four women have been highly energetic in the last couple of years (2015-16) in grabbing the opportunities thrown open by MEPMA through the SHG and bank linkages. Within a couple of years these women obtained loans from various sources to the tune of 5.5 lakh rupees (SHG, Stree Nidhi and individual loans) and channeled the same into food and snack business. They proved the dictum that self-help is the best help. All the four are rated good cooks and all the four are serious workers. The combination is interesting. In a rotation method these members share cooking, packing, washing and cleaning responsibilities. There is no first among equals. Rather all are equals in their group though their leader, Sujatha provided space for running the canteen in her own house. Her husband too aids the team and brings vegetables from local market on every morning. Members of the team are highly alert and closely monitor prices of pulses and rice on day to day basis at the time of procurement. Their eternal vigilance is the premium they pay for running the business successfully all these years. This has provided them a cutting edge in the transactions and saved thousands of rupees in all the purchases they make. One can easily assess the business potential of Anusha Canteen by the sheer observation and figures of consumption: the canteen consumes 50 kilograms of raw vegetables, 10 kilograms of red gram and 25 kilograms of rice every day.

The list of their clients is interesting: 50 regular customers, around 40 parcel meal packets, supply of meal packets to four banks at Kavali (HDFC, SBI, SBH and Corporation Banks) and local government offices. In addition to this, they have regular walk-in-customers who either dine in the canteen or order take-home packets of dishes of their choice. Each meal is priced at Rs. 50 and a packed meal costs Rs. 100. If their story stops here, it is like any other episode dealing in routine commonalities. But there is a totally different side to their journey. Being impressed by the hygiene and quality of food stuffs cooked by these women, the local temples contacted them exploring the possibility of preparation of Prasadam Offerings (cooked food stuff(s) dedicated to Gods/Goddesses initially and then offered to devotees in the Hindu temples everyday) for devotees daily. This is the divine angle to their business. As on today all the famous Hindu temples in Kavali town get their Prasadam Food material from the canteen: temples of Goddess Kalugolamma, Goddess Kanyaka Parameswari, Lord Siva, Lord Ayyappa, Lord Shirdi Sai, Lord Vishnu and Lord Vinayaka. One of the members of the team reverently puts it thus: there is a congregation of Gods and Goddesses in our canteen, always blessing, often reminding and regularly alerting us. The preparation and supply of Prasadam Offerings is amazing: 35 kilograms of Yellow Rice (known as Pulihora Prasadam), 15 kilograms of Pongal (a kind of rice pudding), 15 kilograms of Curd Rice (popularly called Daddhojanam) almost every day barring a few days in a month. During the time of Ganesh Chaturdhi festival season business in divine food stuffs is roaring in nature when Prasadam is offered to devotees in various make-shift platforms for Lord Ganesha for nine days in a row. Anusha Canteen’s turn over on Prasadam Food Stuffs alone is around rupees 10000 per day. Each variety of food stuff prepared for temples is priced differently subject to the ingredients used. Food, clothing, shelter and drinking water are the irreducible minimum of human wants. Prasadam Offering in Hindu temples too is the irreducible minimum presented to the visiting devotees.

Referring to the benevolent Gods and Goddesses for whom they prepare daily Prasadam Offerings, Sujatha says: we are safe in ‘Their’ hands and the divine Prasadam food Stuffs are safe in our hands. Just like hunger is a recurring phenomenon, the Prasadam Food Offerings in Hindu temples too construe a recurring phenomenon day after day. As long as human beings and devotees are there, Anusha Canteen’s business thrives on and on.  Members managing the Canteen are rich on both counts today: being profited from mainstream food business and also from divine business. Under normal circumstances each member in the group gets a rough monthly profit of Rs. 30000. Anusha Canteen’s business which otherwise would end on a normal and daily fiscal routine has truly attained a divine face for the business operations conducted. It appears as if the Gods and Goddesses are willing. Story of the canteen is an ideal combination of strength derived from terrestrial (MEPMA) and celestial (Gods and Goddesses) sources. Civility and divinity go hand in hand at Anusha Canteen today.