Meet The Nari Shakti Puruskar Receipents Who Are Empowering Disabled Women
April 10th, 2018
We have come a long way and the world is surely on the road to progress. On one hand we have excellent examples of women initiating the lead to fight all odds, but on the other hand a large cluster of our talented daughters still lack the right platform for presenting their expertise before the world.
Nari Shakti Puraskar recipients, the duo Anuradha Krishnamoorthy and Namrata Sundaresan, are setting an example by representing women’s voice of the 21st century.
One of the co-founders of Käse, Namrata Sundaresan, speaks about her journey with The Logical Indian.
Originally an Odia, after getting married to a Tamilian, she moved to Chennai. Before Käse, she worked for an MNC and later founded a strategy consulting firm specialized in international trade and investment, Group IBI.
When asked about Käse Namrata said, “I introduce myself as a cheesemaker. Käse means cheese in the German language. An artisanal cheesemaking venture started functioning in July 2016 in partnership with friend Anuradha Krishnamoorthy. Anuradha is the founder of CAN DO, a BPO that focuses on individuals with disabilities and employing them in data/desk research services.”
Specializing in the area of food and coming up with a product that satiates people’s taste buds tossed with the Make In India initiative was something that Namrata always pledged for and this laid the foundation for her to fly with vibrant colors with her artisanal cheese which now receives an overwhelming response from the society.
With the aim of mastering this section of the food industry, she learned cheese-making while on vacation and acquired a wholesome knowledge about cheese manufacturing, ageing, preservation, and disposal.
Anuradha was looking at providing different skills to women with disabilities, where educational qualification was not a matter of concern. She desired to identify the hidden talents of women and give them they are the wings to fly high and be independent, energetic and passionate.
Over a discussion, the two realised that cheesemaking could be one of the skills for training Anuradha’s team. Thus, began the process of testing cheesemaking as a viable opportunity before they gushed into the actual business.
Briefing further about Käse, Namrata highlighted, “Käse though was founded in July 2016, its name was not as it is today; until our collective efforts bore the sweet fruit when Käse was felicitated with ‘Taste of the Market’ award at Karen Anand’s first farmers market at Chennai.” The markets in Chennai then witnessed the inflow of artisanal cheese and applauded the doublet for their hardcore efforts. It was this moment that the duo energised with the prospects of their efforts and decided to put on entrepreneurial hats, representing the passionate women of a developed nation. They decided that they were on to something unique and went on to create a niche for themselves with a brand of cheese that is locally-made, “clean” and hygienic without compromising on the cheese quality as well as health of their consumers – free from all form of additives, preservatives, stabilizers and emulsifiers found in processed cheese flooding the Indian markets today.
Cheese is made at the Käse unit located in Alwarpet, Chennai. For the founders, artisanal making and clean processing are the trademarks of their collaborate initiative. “Fresh milk arrives early in the morning, and the team starts working within a couple of hours,” she added further.
When asked to share the organisation’s futuristic vision, Namrata spoke about the massive no of employment that will be created with this artisanal cheese initiative. She says, “The core team comprised of disabled women were put together for cheese-making. The team was trained on cheese-making skills with a complete understanding of the science involved in the entire process. Now, this team handles cheese-making, packaging and inventory management. As Käse continues to grow, the vision remains to employ and train women with disabilities and provide them with a sustainable means of livelihood. Skill training/ using food as a channel to impart skills is what we pledge at.”
Being beginners, the organization is currently focused on uplifting the disabled section of the female community (70% of the total workforce) but not only uplifting them with the knowledge of cheese production but also the associated skill that work in tandem with the cheesemaking process so that these women can excel in any food or related industries with their future endeavors. It would be interesting to know how this firm functions on a big platform in the coming decades.
When asked to brief the crew on the challenges they witnessed and how they overcame it, Namrata positively conveys, “Challenges are sometimes so intrinsic to the social fabric that we don’t perceive them as challenges – women not coming back to work after marriage or perceiving cheese-making itself as an extension of working in a kitchen -these are two that stare us in our face often. We have been able to overcome it to an extent by engaging our workforce across all areas – billing, inventory management, retail, and packaging. In the process people are more involved; learn some skills as well.”
Without getting into the detailed view of the more significant socio-economic impact, she firmly believes that Women Empowerment is about giving women, especially the ones who are underprivileged a blend of a perfect platform and a sound environment where they can make decisions for themselves, for their families. A life with self-worth and financial independence is what the real definition of Women Empowerment is for her.
“It is not enough to know about problems, what you do about it is what matters – and no effort in the right direction is ever small or insignificant. It is important to take that step towards making a change for the better,” she concluded.