The Bengaluru-based startup that's thinking coconuts amid the COVID-19 crisis
Buy local, be vocal is the buzz in this time of corona crisis. Madhu Kargund (32) had no idea that this would be the state of affairs to come when he quit his corporate job a few months ago to pursue his start-up, Tengin, which turns every part of the coconut into something usable.
From cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, dehydrated chips, shell bowls, vegan wax candle, soaps, coir dish scrubbers, the list is endless. "A few years ago I took some of this coconut oil to work and found many takers. In addition, the benefits of the oil as an immunity booster has been doing the rounds," says Kargund who took impetus from such remarks.
Hailing from Arsikere, Hassan, but who has made Bengaluru his home in the last eight years, Kargund felt the need for farmers in his village to integrate age-old practices for new-age consumers. "Ragi is sold at Rs 10 in villages, but ragi biscuits here go for Rs 40. A slight value addition can make a huge difference," says Kargund who has five acres of farmland back home.
"Something like the coconut bowl can be used to mix hair colour. Usually a steel container is used wherein the steel reacts with the dye, which does not happen in this case," says Kargund, whose unit belonging to a group of farmers, manufacturers 400 litres of cold pressed virgin coconut oil. On an average around 300 litres is sold.
Now, sourcing from farmers in his village, Kargund’s mission is also to retain the skilled workers in his hometown. "I noticed several young farmers were moving to cities for better opportunities. Instead, with organic products seeming to be the go-to thing, I thought it necessary to gainfully employ farmers," he says, adding that women are employed in creating products like the coconut bowl shell.
"My parents co-ordinate with the farmers while I look into research and marketing," says Kargund who has invested over Rs 2 lakh into the venture. Having left his job at a French MNC in the midst of this pandemic, there are times Kargund wonders if he has made the right move. But with plans like organising coconut tours something on the lines of a wine tour, and working with other crops, Kargund is hoping to make a difference both in terms of creating eco-friendly products as well as empowering women and rural farmers.