This Startup Helps 20,000 Villagers In Himalayas Earn Livelihood From Yak & Cow Milk

Image Credits: Dogsee

This Startup Helps 20,000 Villagers In Himalayas Earn Livelihood From Yak & Cow Milk

Dogsee provided direct and indirect employment to over 20,000 villagers from 150 villages in Nepal, Sikkim, and Darjeeling. It is part of an entrepreneurial organ that is truly from the people and by the people.

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Bhupender Khanal and his wife Sneh Sharma are loving parents of a Golden Retriever (dog breed) named Mowgli. They, as individuals, are generally very conscious about healthy living and healthy eating.

But as pet parents, they used to always struggle with finding healthy treat options for Mowgli. Most of the treats available in the market were made of rawhide, a byproduct of the leather industry. The rawhide is usually treated with strong chemicals and preservatives, which are very harmful to dogs.

Their quest to solve this challenge took them to the remote corners of the upper Himalayas, where they encountered Chhurpi, a very hard yak cheese which humans typically consume as a rich source of protein. During their trip, the couple saw that dogs would steal these treats and gnaw on them.

On realising that this cheese, with its bone-like hardness, could become a very healthy alternative to rawhide treats, the couple decided to introduce a healthy treat called 'Dogsee' to pet parents across the globe.

Uplifting The Farmer Community

Dogsee has been an advocate of healthy and nourishing treats and palates for dogs. However, it is more than just a company and is a shining beacon of community upliftment and growth.

When Khanal started his venture, he knew that he required the traditional knowledge and know-how to make essentially healthy dog treats. Thus, he approached the local community to partake in the mission of healthy pet nutrition. This was a blessing in disguise for many local farmers who didn't have a lot of takers for the Yak milk.

Helping Villagers Earn From Yak & Cow Milk

Today, thanks to Dogsee, the community, comprising over 20,000 villagers from 150 villages in Nepal, Sikkim, and Darjeeling, provides direct and indirect employment to them. It is part of an entrepreneurial organ that is truly from the people and by the people. On average, a villager earns a monthly income of 20-25,000 from Dogsee. Around 20-25 litres of yak milk is required to make a kilogram of cheese.

"The supply chain and building a substantial market for this product was a challenge. Dogsee helped by setting up a co-operative model for Yak milk farmers, arranged for logistics, and the processing and packaging done by Khanal Foods. The brand also offers the basic instruments of cutting the chews and mats for drying it up," Bhupender Khanal, Founder & CEO, told The Logical Indian.

Natural And Delicious Treats

With a mission to provide dogs with 100 per cent natural, delicious, gluten-free and grain-free treats, Dogsee products are sourced from the Himalayas. Its flagship product, the Dogsee Chew Hard Bars are long-lasting dental chews made from cow and yak cheese. These bars are custom-made for dogs based on their size, age, and breed.

The product has three major USPs, this is the only all-organic 100 per cent vegetarian treats/chews for dogs that work as an alternative to bones/Rawhide. It's high in protein and low on carbs, making them ideal for dogs, and lastly, the Himalayan connection brings rare minerals along with all organic alternatives to the processed treats.

Apart from Dogsee Chew Hard Bars, the product line includes Dogsee Chew's Puffed Treats made from cow and yak cheese and Dogsee Crunch - single-ingredient training treats made from natural fruits or vegetables.

"Currently, we are providing good economic activity in over 125 villages spanning five Indian states. We buy at good rates giving them a fair chance to earn and better their living standards. Several of the smaller dairy players have become significantly established businesses by doing business with us," Khanal said.

They are also given training and provided ways to scale by helping them with semi-automation of the making processes.

"We have a very happy community of over 25k villagers who are working hard to make millions of dogs happy and healthy in 30 countries," he added.

Apart from giving villagers assured income for producing Chews and other products, the brand assists them with other supports like interest-free loans to purchase yak or cows, buying insurance for cattle, helping with funds in medical and other emergencies, and providing COVID related support like masks and sanitisers directly or indirectly.

Challenges Faced

However, there were also some challenges throughout Khanal's journey. The top challenge, he said, was to convince people that vegetarian food is good for dogs as long as nutrition is fulfilled, as most of the pet parents and the vets felt otherwise.

"We convinced them all scientifically by working on nutrition and the fact that any mammal survives on milk for the first few months when they are born. Milk products are indeed good for all mammals, including dogs," he said.

More Products To Be Included In Future

Dogsee aspires to become a 500 crore brand in three years, and working on adding more products with similar USPs. The goal is to provide natural food and treats to all animals and expand to the cat and small animals segment this year.

The brand is also expanding investments in factories to produce and process Himalayan Chews and other products and plans to hire over 400 blue-collar workers this year.

"We are here to make this world a better place and making money is just the byproduct. We are already a carbon neutral brand now with going 100% solar, and working on reducing plastic usage by 50% by this year-end," Khanal concluded.

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