Forest dwellers and kitchen businesses

Women-led startups that began their journey from the kitchen, a professor growing and processing oyster mushrooms in Rajasthan, an activist who works with forest dwellers even though her father was kidnapped by them, and Anini, are part of this newsletter

Rashmi Pratap
New Update
Forest dwellers and kitchen businesses

Forest dwellers and kitchen businesses

Dear Reader,

I will start this newsletter with a short story. In 2002, a pharmaceutical distributor in Lumding, Assam, was kidnapped by forest dwellers for ransom. They took away his shoes so that he could not escape into the rugged terrain of the forest. One day, they forgot to lock his door and he managed to overcome challenges to reach home, where his wife and daughters had been praying for his safe return.

After the incident, his wife stopped all movements out of the house, and their elder daughter, who was in college then, had to discontinue her studies. That girl, Ananya Paul, has now been working with tribal forest dwellers for the last 27 years, educating their children, empowering the women and weaning men off kidnapping for ransom.

My colleague Partho has written this story of courage, conviction and change. Ananya’s NGO TribalConnect has provided education to 21,000 women and children and sustainable livelihood opportunities to over 50,000 forest dwellers so far. Do look it up!

Last week, I spoke to Annu Kanawat, who belongs to a conservative upper-class family of Sisodia Rajputs in Bhilwara, Rajasthan. Since girls in her family are not very educated, she faced opposition when she expressed her desire to study after class 12th. Overcoming challenges, she completed her MBA but was married off soon. 

Her supportive husband encouraged her to teach at a college in Jaipur. A field trip with students led her to learn about mushroom cultivation, and the assistant professor began farming on a trial basis in 2020. Her startup Aamlda Organic Foods is now set to clock Rs1 crore in revenues. She trains farmers and women for free in mushroom farming, which requires an initial investment of less than Rs500.

From organic beauty products and preserves to meads (honey-based wine) and running food services, a kitchen can be the starting point for many businesses. My colleague Riya has put together a piece on seven women entrepreneurs who started their businesses from the kitchen and are now running successful startups.

Our Sunday story is on Anini, a hidden gem in the heart of Arunachal Pradesh. During World War II, it served as a vital hub for sending supplies and troops to China via the Ledo Road in Assam. In 1947, it officially became a part of India. Today, it is a paradise for nature lovers and trekkers!

Happy Reading!




This Assam activist is transforming the lives of tribal people through education and empowerment


How this Jaipur professor set up Rs 1 crore mushroom business


Seven women entrepreneurs who started businesses from their kitchens