Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad: It's a Women-Only Business

11 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Lynn Isabella

Lynn Isabella

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Gerry Yemen

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Nirja Mattoo

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Rajkumar Venkatesan

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Andrew Wicks

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

The story of Lijjat offers an opportunity to challenge students to think about what a business is for. It can be used to explore students' cultural intelligence starting point and discover what they need to learn from others who are different from them. The material lends itself to explore the concepts of missions, visions, values, strategies, and goals in the context of a highly successful business in India. For many years, members of the same family—mothers, daughters, sisters, and mothers-in-law—worked side by side producing Lijjat papads in India. All had started out underprivileged. Lijjat existed to improve the quality of each woman's life. Yet Lijjat was a business and market leader. President Swati R. Paradkar knew it had to continue to grow and was unwilling to do so at the expense of what made the organization unique—it was built on the labor of women who had little except a desire for self-dignity. Paradkar and her team had plans to increase production by opening facilities in nonmetro regions that suited the company's business model. But what would they do about replicating the model outside of India?

Excerpt

UVA-OB-1091

Dec. 7, 2015

Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad: It's A Women-Only Business

You could call it an institution. You could call it an organization. You could call it a society. But anyone who called Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad (Lijjat) a company was quickly corrected by its president, Swati R. Paradkar. For those who didn't know better, Lijjat seemed to look like many other successful companies. Its products could easily be found on food shelves throughout India and around the world. Yet a closer look from the outside revealed some major differences. Even before Sam Walton called his employees associates, the group of women making up Lijjat referred to themselves as lady members rather than employees. They treated the organization like a sacred place—much like a temple, church, or mosque. And any economic activity was for the goal of improving the lives of those in need. That included those who joined and worked at producing Lijjat's products—the business. All lady members were impoverished when they started.

Over its 56 years, Lijjat had grown from an investment of INR80 (~USD16.8) to annual sales of INR1,200crore (~USD183.6 million). The brand had been built by women's empowerment. In the minds of many consumers in India, the papad—a seasoned dough, flattened and cooked crispy with dry heat—was synonymous with Lijjat. Indeed, the words “papad” and “Lijjat” were used interchangeably.

As with anything successful, imitation was sure to follow. So when it was discovered that fake Lijjat papads were hitting markets worldwide, the lady members had to do something. While original packaging had the trademarked photo of a child called Babla eating a papad, a pink rabbit was added in the 1980s in hopes of making identification of the real thing more readily visible (see Exhibit 1).

. . .

Keywords: Growth, strategy, capabilities, global business, export, competition, ethics, operating goals

Suggested Citation

Isabella, Lynn and Yemen, Gerry and Mattoo, Nirja and Venkatesan, Rajkumar and Wicks, Andrew, Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad: It's a Women-Only Business. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-1091. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2974848

Lynn Isabella (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-4818 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/isabella.htm

Gerry Yemen

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Nirja Mattoo

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Rajkumar Venkatesan

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/html/direc_detail.aspx?styleid=2&id=5808

Andrew Wicks

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/wicks.htm

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