Incredible Case of Women Empowerment

This amazing story dates back to 1959, when India’s independence was in its infancy and education was not considered that important, particularly for women.

That’s when a group of seven exceptional Gujarati women from very ordinary backgrounds of Girgaum area of Mumbai came together to start a business that wouldn’t need them to study or step out of their homes, but would create a sustainable livelihood using the only skill they had i.e. cooking.

And, that is how the incredible idea of Lijjat Papad was born with a capital of just Rs 80 given to them by a social worker. I’m talking about Shree Mahila Gruha Udhoy Lijjat Papad, a Papad manufacturing company, a household name in India.

Papads are very thin, very crispy snacks, like wafers or crackers. These are often made from milled legumes, such as lentils or chickpeas or potatoes or rice and tapioca flours. Apart from plain versions, these often contain spices like cumin and chili.

So these women first started selling their Papads at a local store, and soon enough, due to their superb quality and taste, even other shops began buying their product.

The business was growing, and Lijjat started scaling up. Initially, they had the opportunity to hire the needy women at a dirt-cheap cost allowing them to work from home.

But the primary goal of their business was not to make money but to empower women from the underprivileged families by providing them with the livelihood to nurture their families.

So instead of hiring women, they started to give out ownership to every woman who joined their business and called them Lijjat Ben (Lijjat sister) rather than employees. With this concept of “collective ownership,” every single woman owns a part of the business and shares the profits and losses of the organization.

Incidentally, this attribute of collective ownership is one of the foundational principles that make Starbucks a great company. But the business acumen of seven incredible sisters of Lijjat did it way before Starbucks, without knowing what an MBA degree is.

With efflux of time, Lijjat, has also undergone various changes with improvement in the process of making and distribution, but has ensured that with every change they make, not a single woman is asked to leave the organisation, because their ultimate purpose of business is not to make money but to empower women.

The first day profit was just 50 paise, the next day it was Re 1. And it went on increasing with passing of every day. It has come a long way. Product is now being exported to 25 countries.

Today after 63 years, Lizzat is a business empire worth Rs 1800 crore (approx US$ 225 million) spread across 82 branches in 17 states, creating employment generation for more than 45,000 proud and self respecting women.

–Kaushal Kishore



  1. Thank you, Kaushal, for the inspiring and extraordinary story of the company created by women for women. Partnership in the business is rare but always successful. Here, we have one only company without employees, just partners.

    Thank you for the presentation!


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Joanna, for your wonderful comment that I truly appreciate. This is some sort of participative management, where all work with the spirit of ownership. Credit goes to those women for opting this kind of business model.


    1. Thank you, Cindy! I’m happy that you liked the story. Papad is often used with main course, but people also prefer it as snack. 😊💖


    1. क्या बात कही नितिन जी, बिल्कुल सटीक। सच भी, प्रचार का jingle भी। बहुत बहुत धन्यवाद!


  2. Good for them! I congratulate them on their huge success!
    I have actually heard of more of those kind of enterprises in India, just at a smaller scale, which enable women to take care of themselves and their cildren even without a husband. It is very good to hear that women can solidarize with each other. It is not always the case.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, Stella, there are smaller groups of women functioning in remote areas with or without financial help from banks. It’s called self help group (SHG). These women are provided professional help by social workers or NGO. As a banker, I had got thousands of SHGs financed through my branches. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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