Imphal: Manipur, one of the extreme states in Northeast India bordering Myanmar, is becoming the focus of interest in the region as a number of young minds are turning their rich ideas into something tangible – creating start-ups.
Over the last few years, young and enthusiastic people in the state have explored an array of areas and transformed the resources into something concrete while promoting sustainable livelihood and striving for self-reliance.
From food processing units to tech companies, they have worked towards building an entrepreneurial hub in the state.
On the occasion of EastMojo’s second anniversary, we are highlighting a few start-ups from Manipur which were co-founded by two entrepreneurs, thereby displaying the positive ‘power of 2’.
Founded in June 2017 by Kennedy Oinam and Bickychand Khangjrakpam, Foodwifi is an app-based food delivery service provider through business tie-ups with restaurants and eating outlets in the state, especially in Imphal.
The company, which was initially launched with an investment of Rs 40,000 (Rs 20,000 each), has now a turnover of Rs 3 crore annually along with 50 young dynamic staff rendering their services.
“We met through mutual friends and found out a similarity of interest in start-ups. Later, we discussed our ideas, tried out some, but failed. Later, the idea of food delivery hit us and that’s how we began our journey together as entrepreneurs,” said co-founder Khangjrakpam.
“Until the pandemic lockdown pressed us all, Foodwifi took orders of at least 500 per day, widening up its further avenues on customer services. However, the prolong lockdown has brought changes in everyone’s way of living, including these entrepreneurs in their way of handling the business,” he added.
The duo from Imphal came up with a new model for delivering essential needs and vegetables for the households with the state government’s support while adhering to safety guidelines and precautionary measures during the pandemic lockdown.
“It was like a newborn for the company, the processes and nature were new. The staff no longer need to visit the office. All the backend staff are now working from home, and office space has been closed. Foodwifi is now working as a virtual company, reducing expenses and increasing revenues,” said Oinam.
Apart from operating in Imphal, Foodwifi is also currently rendering its services in Tamenglong and Bishnupur districts. Also, the company is planning to launch in three more districts soon.
Having come from different backgrounds and also with different strengths and weaknesses as individuals, it has been easy for the duo to handle any situations starting from customer service, to staff management, client handling and any other external issue.
Oinam, who completed his bachelor of science, handles the operations and financial part, whereas Khangjrakpam, who comes from BTech and MBA background, takes care of human resources & marketing.
Green Biotech EcoSolutions
Geetashori Yumnam and Dr Asem Sundari Devi, the co-founders of Green Biotech EcoSolutions based in Imphal, are the leading women agripreneurs in Manipur dealing in the sustainable agriculture sector.
The company manufactures bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides and has more than 30 varieties of products for agriculture besides aquaculture, animal husbandry & environmental management inputs.
The company’s most recent product is the Green Bucket for converting kitchen waste to organic compost with the help of micro-compost, which is the first of its kind in the state.
The new product helps to reduce the burden on the municipal corporations and making this an environmentally friendly activity. “With this vision, we introduced GREEN BUCKET method to convert waste to compost,” said Geetashori Yumnam, the co-founder of Green Biotech EcoSolutions.
However, just like the COVID-19 pandemic has spared none putting lives at standstill, the global health crisis has hugely impacted the company’s production.
The production of the company has been reduced to zero in the last few months due to a lack in supply of raw materials from other states. “However, we are continuing to pay salaries to its employee though it was challenging to keep doing so despite lacklustre sales,” said Dr Asem Sundari Devi, the co-founder of Green Biotech EcoSolutions.
“Pesticides are a seasonal business and if we miss this sale season it could impact profitability,” added Asem.
The women entrepreneurs are also working closely with their associated farmers, which has at least 5,000, in door-to-door delivery of seeds, pesticides and other inputs. And also helping them sell their produce to relevant buyers.
After launching its latest product Queen, a processed pineapple pulpy juice, which was technically supported by the Central Agricultural University (CAU) Imphal last month, the company is now supporting the pineapple growers by procuring the locally produce fruits directly.
“We are trying hard to generate revenue based on the naturally available resource, as pineapple is available in good amount in Manipur taking the advantage of this opportunity trying to help our farmer due to lake of market opportunity all pineapple grower is facing the problem of the market due to COVID-19 situation,” added Geetashori.
With partial relaxation in lockdown, the duo are now aggressively planning and working towards supply-chain management and production. In the coming years, they also aim to develop more skill in technology development for sustainable income and high-income return.
Geetashori, who holds a Master’s degree in forestry as a university topper, had always dreamt of being a job provider rather than a job seeker and now she has proved herself as a successful woman entrepreneur.
Joining hands with Asem, who completed her Bachelor’s in Homeopathy Medicine and Surgery from Calcutta University, they are achieving great heights in the agricultural sector.
Hill Wild chocolate has already earned a household name not only in Manipur but entire northeast and other cities in the country because of its unique taste of chilly infused on the homemade chocolate.
Founded by Zeinorin Stephen Angkang and Leiyalon Vashum in 2017, the proprietors of Hill Wild, then business partners and now a couple, they are the first chocolatiers from Manipur based in the lush green hill district Ukhrul.
Initially, they launched the exotic chocolate in six different flavours: king chilli, roasted pumpkin seeds, rums and raisins, wild apple, perilla seeds and heimang seeds.
The ingredients sourced directly from the pristine environment, the couple is creating an opportunity for a sustainable livelihood by connecting the farmers’ community directly and creating wider avenues.
The duo is constantly upgrading their products ranging from artisanal chocolate to fruit candies. Now, they are promoting the indigenous herbs and spices that come from the wild seasonally which are clean, undisturbed and pure apart from specialising on making gift hampers for special occasions.