A few years back, Leela Pradeep was just an employee working in a private office in Kochi. But now this 44-year-old resident of Nedumbassery in Kerala is an entrepreneur supporting over 60 families with a venture which she started with a mission to be self-independent and to support women aged 40 and above.
Mozhulli Industries, set up by her to make paper bags with an initial capital of Rs 10,000, has grown over the years to support several women in her neighbourhood at Mekkad, Nedumbassery in Ernakulam. For Leela, a postgraduate in Mathematics, leaving her job at the private firm wasn’t an easy decision. She knew it would dry up the family’s income source, but her urge to start her own venture made her resign from the job in 2014.
“My husband and the family fully backed my decision to quit the job. Things weren’t easy in the initial days. Paper bags were not in much demand at that time. But we didn’t lose heart and continued to put in our best efforts. I didn’t know much about the paper bag industry, but a Kudumbashree unit at Parakkadavu helped me,” Leela told Open Digest.
It was hard to find takers for the paper bags, but her first major breakthrough came when she could convince a few hospitals, textiles shops and stores to give her an order to supply paper bags. “Since then, our journey has been incredible, and we soon expanded our services over time to offer different types of high-quality customised paper bags to our clients,” she said.
As her business grew, she also made it her mission to empower more women by giving them employment at her unit. “I am happy that my small venture could support over 60 families. We could help many women earn a passive income by associating with us,” she added.
The majority of the workforce at Mozhulli Industries comprises homemakers and women aged over 40. Leela has a word of advice for those women looking to start their own venture. According to her, proper planning, financial discipline, dedication and hard work are the main pillars to sustain a business.
“In the early stages, securing orders was the biggest challenge. We made a lot of sacrifices to cut living costs and make our ends meet,” she added.