BENGALURU: She’s probably never held a pen in her life, but personal hardship turned her into an entrepreneur who runs a canteen near KR Circle that employs over two dozen people and serves food that is wildly popular. Meet 46-year-old Kempamma whose affordable meals feed at least 500 people a day at Annapoorna Tiffins located next to the PWD office.
Hailing from Hulidurga in Tumakuru district, Kempamma got married when she was barely 18. Her husband ran a small eatery out of a pushcart near KR Circle. She worked as a domestic worker and flower vendor near her home in Sunkadakatte, and never ventured beyond that. “I lost my husband when my daughter was around five years old. That was when I realised I had to step out to take care of her. I continued my husband’s pushcart business. Holding my young daughter, I cooked food and served customers,’’ she said.
Kempamma’s pushcart became popular. Employees at government offices located around KR Circle frequented her pushcart and loved her simple home-made food. But there was a problem. People who claimed they were police or corporation officials would disrupt her work. “Once, some of my government employee customers took me to their seniors and got me a place inside the compound,’’ she said, adding that this was a turning point. She set up a canteen there.
Every day, she would leave her home at 5 am. Along with a few youngsters from Raichur, Kalaburagi and Koppal, she would prepare breakfast and lunch. “Slowly, more people started coming. I started hiring more people too. Today, I have some 25 people working at the canteen. I pay them close to Rs 4 lakh every month. I have been doing this for more than 20 years now,’’ she said. “My daughter is a double graduate, but comes here to help me. I stay alone. After paying the staff and rent for the canteen, I don’t get much. I don’t need much either. I have a daughter who is married and settled. I have a house and don’t need any other property. But I have the satisfaction of giving jobs to many.’’ she said.