'Arch Chips' company which rolled out six lakh packets by April 2022 across the district of Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh, has ten directors and 650 shareholders who are all women. It is the first local potato chips company in Firozabad, a potato-rich belt where 1.40 crore quintals of potato are harvested every year.
The women in the company belong to a self-help group with zilch experience in business, and many of them haven't studied beyond basic education in schools. The members came together, putting in ₹ 3,000 each, and the directors decided to take loans to set up the factory in April 2021 at Shikohabad, part of the Firozabad district. By November 2021, they had distributed the first-ever packet.
Sadhna Yadav, one of the directors of Arch Chips, told PTI how the village people used to label them as 'mad', but after the successful penetration of Arch Chips in the district, they have gained respect among the society, as reported by The New Indian Express.
She further mentioned their plan to include 1,000 women in this company.
Local Employment During Covid-19
Most of the members in the company belong to poor households with small or medium land where potato is cultivated. It has made way for local employment while completely removing the obstacle of mediators when they try to sell in markets at obsolescent prices.
"I had studied till 12th and got married after that. I belonged to a very low-income family in Etawah's Saifai area, and my husband's family is into potato farming. We have 18 bigha land among three brothers, including my husband," said Priyanka Devi, another director of the Arch Chips, to PTI.
Most of the women's families had unsteady incomes. With the Covid-19 pandemic, it only got worse. Once they started this initiative in 2021, they now get ₹ 800 per quintal directly, whereas they used to receive ₹ 350 per quintal.
Firozabad Chief Development Officer Charchit Gaur remarked that when one thinks of locally produced chips, they tend to assume oily chips in transparent packets; however, Arch Chips overcame this stereotype.
"...Arch Chips has dispelled that myth. These potato chips are at par, or even better than some big brands, be it in terms of taste or packaging," he told PTI.
Arch Chips has now expanded to districts such as Agra and Etawah with more plans to cater to railway and bus stations as they are in talks with Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport and Indian Railways.