The historical art of making pickles through the process of natural preservation has for long been a cultural tradition in Kerala households. Traditionally, pickles were made to keep up with food requirements during food shortages. Over the years, the art has been passed on from one generation to another. As such, many varieties of pickles started to come to the fore. Right from carrying plastic jars of pickles when we leave home to serving it as touchings during drinking sessions, pickles have played a subtle yet very important role in our lives. Athey Nallatha was born out of the need to preserve the culture of pickle-making in Kerala, all while, empowering the original makers of it, our mothers.
MBA graduates, Hafez Raman from Kakkanad and Akshay R from Trivandrum shared a dream of building a social entrepreneurship venture since their days in SCMS School of Business, Muttom. They used to attend many entrepreneurship conferences and programs initiated by the college and external events. But, the idea of starting up was ignited during the lockdown. Their venture, Athey Nallatha, was inspired by their mothers who would constantly have conversations about people losing their jobs because of the pandemic. Hafez and Akshay wanted to find a solution to this existing problem – To build employment for the needy.
So, they quit their jobs and started a processed food startup called Athey Nallatha, where mothers are the backbone of the venture.
They shared, “Our mothers inspired us regarding the possibility of generating employment during the time when people were losing jobs rapidly and when the pandemic was at its peak. That’s when we thought of starting a social venture including the middle-aged mothers. We started with 2 mothers for manufacturing, now we have engaged nearly 40 mothers in total. Parents have played a crucial role here. Without their consistent and continuous support, the venture couldn’t have been made real. And after all, it’s their taste palate that the world is relishing.”
Athey Nallatha depicts the notion of “goodness”. It literally translates to “it’s good”. This is the most important value proposition they deliver to their customers and to society. Also, by developing a dream community of mothers, they are trying to unite and up bring the most undervalued but the most precious class of all.
We got up and close with Hafez Raman and Akshay R. Here’s their story!
How did you find women to be a part of Athey Nallatha?
Since the ideation was triggered by our mothers, we decided to serve the community and help them in the best ways we could. Mothers being the most undervalued social entity, we didn’t think twice. The only problem we faced was to find the right product for them. Pickles have always been a granny recipe and Mothers are proven to be the best makers of pickles the world. We didn’t find any better category other than mothers to be the best part of this project.
Though we were expecting a lot of challenges during the implementation because mothers usually prioritize their families mostly, with us they proved that they could do anything. The level of passion, commitment, and the vigour they showcase every day is highly appreciated and valued.
Can you share some of their stories and how working with Athey Nallatha changed their life?
We aspire to create definitive and optimistic changes in society for the underprivileged sections of society. As stated earlier, our people’s competency, passion and commitment are incomparable with other segments in the band. Some of the mothers are deeply passionate to build this brand to a global level.
To narrate an incident, I remember a mother named Jijji stating that there is a colossal difference in her life; working for something that has value compared to her earlier life. Being able to socialize, to generate earnings for her and for the family, being able to work for a common vision; all these have changed her lifestyle and the way she perceived her life.
Yours is a business for a cause. What do empowering women mean to you both?
There is a common perception regarding the work profiles for men and women. Masculinity and femininity rule the role here. Society in large has kept certain protocols for both the genders on their routines. Unfortunately, men drive the steering here. While many segments are exposed to a lot of subliminal oppressions even in this globalized world, we are definitely witnessing the new waves of change in perceptions.
We are trying to trigger or catalyze the rate of change or betterment towards the women class of the society so that there is equality and liberation for both. There should be a co-harmonious mutual existence between the two, rather than one oppressing the other.
Why did you choose to start your venture with pickle varieties?
We were really stunned after researching this market. The existence of substandard ingredients and raw materials inside every pickle bottle has ruined the quality of the whole market realm. We recognized the real need of the product to be implemented in the market, facilitating the best quality possible by helping the deserved class in society.
Why is the art of pickle making close to the hearts of many Malayali mothers?
Historically, pickles had been a granny recipe. Pickles are meant for food preservation for reasons such as poverty, famine and products being season-specific. It has proved to be a good mechanism to preserve and last long. We cannot ignore the fact that many women are at the forefront when it comes to home cooking. Malayali mothers are deeply involved in the making of the same, trying out a lot of experiments and explorations to keep the product tasty and long-lasting.
Athey Nallatha’s pickles have been formulated as Fusion Pickles. They only use organic, natural and high-quality ingredients. Each pickle that is formulated has a unique spice mix and has a melt-in-your-mouth taste. Their bestseller is Jalpushp 2.0 which is a pickled reimagining of the classic Fish-Mango curry.
Not many people know this, but you can consume more pickles and it won’t affect your appetite. All you have to find is the perfect mix of quality spices and raw materials used in pickles. One of the surveys conducted by the Athey Nallatha team showed that on an average, an Athey Nallatha customer takes three days to empty a 250 g bottle (out of the 200 customers they researched). Quite a spectacular result!
The overall aim of the social venture is to develop the community globally while sustaining the quality and goodwill throughout.