Viji Sreekumar from Kerala runs AVS, a healthy food and organic venture that sells bamboo rice-based products, health mixes, protein supplements, skincare products, and more.
When her husband’s business started to falter, homemaker Viji from Alappuzha, Kerala did not think twice before stepping up to take charge. She always knew that she wanted to do some business. With a diploma in fashion design, she first started a tailoring shop. But that did not become so much of a success. So Viji turned to her passion for cooking.
So in 2012, she began to make tasty homemade achars. While the business was slowly picking up, she decided to add more products to her business. “When it comes to cooking, I have always had a thing for making payasam. So with my achar business, I started making payasam for events conducted by Kudumbashree, as well as other government and private organisations,” she says, adding that she travels across the state and even outside to showcase her culinary skills through payasam stalls.
Viji says she loves experimenting with different flavours and ingredients. “I am a person who loves variety in everything. So, when I started making payasam, I wanted it to be unique. Now I have recipes of over 100 varieties of payasam,” she says, adding that she makes payasam out of ash gourd, Chinese potato, carrot, beetroot, raw jackfruit and so on.
She says that at the events, especially outside Kerala, her payasam was selling faster, with requests coming in to send food via post or couriers as well. “That’s when I realised the scope for making payasam mixes that are ready to make, as well as ready to eat retort processed payasam that can be stored for almost six months,” she says.
Today, she runs a flourishing small scale business of payasam mixes and different value-added products made out of bamboo rice under the brand name AVS and earns a revenue of Rs 50,000 per month.
“Ever since I started thinking of starting a business, I wanted to do something different and stand out from the crowd. That’s how I started making value-added products out of bamboo rice,” Viji says. “I started researching bamboo rice and learnt that for the Adivasi community, it is essentially a health secret. It’s rich in fibre, proteins and vitamins. It is also considered to be good for diabetics,” she adds.
Thus, Viji started experimenting by making bamboo rice payasam, which became an instant hit. “I knew that I could do more with such a healthy grain. I also wanted to transform it into something where its goodness can be utilised in a better way,” she says.
Now, her brand offers products like bamboo rice powder, bamboo rice puttu powder, kanji mix, payasam mix, and a bamboo rice-based protein powder called Bamboo Vita. Bamboo Vita, priced at Rs 490, is the fastest-selling among all her products, says Viji, who has now expanded her business to beauty care products as well.
Credit: The Better India
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