Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, popularly known as just Lijjat Papad started with a capital of ₹ 80, today has an annual turnover of over ₹ 800 crores.
Lijjat was the brainchild of seven Gujarati women from Bombay (now Mumbai). The women though illiterate, had a dream – a dream to be self-reliant. The seven “member-sisters” started production of papad on the terrace of their building. At the outset, they started selling the papads through their neighborhood merchant. The initial sales were extremely positive and they soon converted their small-venture into a cooperative.
During the first year, the women had to stop production for four months during the rainy season as they could not get enough sunlight to dry the papads. Over time, the member-sisters found ways to optimize their papad-making process and ensured continuity in the manufacturing process. The member-sisters also vowed to never compromise with the quality of their product and that brought them a long way.
Their business venture flourished and within three months there were 25 women making papads. In the first year, the organization’s annual sales were 7500% (yes 7500%) of their initial capital.
The group got considerable publicity through word-of-mouth and articles in newspapers. By the second year of its formation, 150 women had joined the group, and by the end of the third year, it had more than 300 members. Initially, even younger girls could join, but later eighteen was fixed as the minimum age of entry.
Lijjat believes in the philosophy of sarvodaya (meaning “progress of all”) and collective ownership. It accepts all its working members as the owners and an equal partaker in both profit and loss. The members fondly referred to as “sisters”, are co-owners. Men can only be salaried employees (accountants, drivers or security guards), and not the members of the organization (i.e. they are not the owners)
After tasting tremendous success with their papads, Lijjat began producing other products like khakhra, masalas, wheat atta, detergent powders and bakery products. In the 1970s, Lijjat set up flour mills and a printing and packing division. The group also initiated some unsuccessful ventures such as cottage leather, matchboxes, and agarbattis (incense sticks).
Today, It provides employment to a staggering 43,000 people. The organization has 81 branches and 27 divisions all over India. Lijjat papad and its other products are now exported to all over the world.
The Lijjat organization has undertaken various efforts to promote literacy and computer education for member-sisters and their families. From 1980, Lijjat started giving Scholarships to the daughters of the member-sisters. On several occasions, the Lijjat member-sisters have undertaken social service activities such as distributing nutritious food for poor children, donating money for conducting community marriage, enabling of primary education for children, undertaking blood donation drive, organizing health camps.
“Karram Kurram” Lijjat Paapad!