Read full article by Anju Narayanan@ Herstory Photo Credit: Anju Narayanan
This Chennai woman entrepreneur is using ancient minor millets to create major impact
Sanjeeta KK started OGMO Foods in 2018 in Chennai. Her brand focuses on products made using ancient minor millets like barnyard and little millet, which now retails across premium stores in Chennai and Pune
After spending many years working in the corporate world, Sanjeeta KK’s life took a sudden turn in the 90s when she had to undergo a medical emergency. It made her quit her full-time job and take a break for eight long years.
Being passionate about all things food, in the second innings of her career, she took on multiple roles—food blogger, food styling consultant and social entrepreneur—and in 2018, launched her healthy food brand, OGMo Foods—which stands for Organic Movement—in Chennai.
Getting on the ground
Taking a leaf out of the corporate playbook, Sanjeeta established processes while running operations, which led to some amusing and revealing results.
“On the first day of production, I meticulously labelled and organised all the raw material containers to make the process easy, and left notes like, ‘Measure 20kg of barnyard millet, 5 kg of raisins, 1 gram of pink salt.’ I expected my staff—all of them from rural areas—to use the blender, however, they all had a puzzled look. That’s when I came to know that none of them knew how to read or write—either English or Tamil,” recalls Sanjeeta, 53, Founder of OGMO Foods, in a conversation with HerStory.
While the task at hand was enormous, it didn’t deter her. One day, she visited her farm near Cheyyur in Tamil Nadu, where Sanjeeta had been cultivating organic vegetables and fruits, to talk to the local community of farmers.
“They told me that they used to grow millets and lots of ancient grains that Tamil Nadu used to consume in the past, but they stopped doing so because there was no market for them and nobody was consuming them. We then thought why not start producing the millets again, and find uses for it as it also helps farmers. Millet grains use very less water compared to wheat or rice,” says Sanjeeta.