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It was with a borrowed amount of Rs 80 that Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat began her entrepreneurial journey, ably helped by with six others. Over six decades later, Lijjat Papad, which the now 91-year-old Jaswantiben started back in 1959, has become a household name . Jaswantiben was awarded the Padma Shri Award in the trade and industry category in 2021. Initially started in Girgaum area of Mumbai, not only did Jaswantiben created an international brand, she also opened up an avenue for thousands of women who achieved financial independence by working with Lijjat. In an interview with a news magazine, Jaswantiben had recalled that making and selling papads back then was a desperate measure to supplement the family income. That it slowly turned into a business ven venture was something she had never dreamt of. One of the world’s oldest cooperatives that supports women through employment opportunities, the company was christened Shri Mahila Gruha Udyog Lijjat Papad but renamed Lijjat Papad in 1962. ‘Lijjat’ means tasty in Gujarati. Initially, these women including Jaswantiben made papads on the terraces of their homes and sold four packets to a businessman. As the demand increased, the group began supplying it on a larger scale to other regions.

Today, Lijjat Papad employs around 42,000 women in over 60 branches and is exported to the USA, Singapore, England, the Netherlands and Thailand. With a turnover of over Rs 800 crore, this women-centric business majorly employs rural women who happen to be illiterate but are highly skilled. The organisation believes in collective ownership and the philosophy of Sarvodaya meaning universal uplift or progress for all.

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