How this female entrepreneur has pivoted during the pandemic and is on the verge of reaching her pre-COVID turnover of Rs 50 Cr
Shivani Agarwal had always dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps and starting his own business.
After obtaining her undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Delhi and an MBA from the KJ Somaiya Institute of Management, Mumbai, she worked with her father, who had a trading company for different types of paper, for a few years. to understand the different elements of entrepreneurship. .
When his father set up a manufacturing unit, the project did not take off. Shivani seized this opportunity and intervened.
âI always wanted to work alone, not to report to anyone. I decided to use the existing resources to make tissue paper, toilet rolls and paper towels, stretch film and aluminum foil for food packaging, among other products, âshe recalls.
In constant growth
Shivani established Craft products as an MSME unit in 2010 in Sonepat, Haryana. In 11 years, although the business had its ups and downs, Shivani forged ahead with ideas and processes that she hadn’t known much about before, and which included the association with selling to. modern retail and wholesale.
âWhen I started it was very difficult because I had no idea about branding, product marketing, etc. Since a lot of investment had already gone into the plant and machinery, we didn’t have a lot of capital to work with and spend on advertising or marketing. We were talking to the distributors ourselves, âsays Shivani.
In 2010, Walmart became Scraft’s first customer and things have changed dramatically.
âI met representatives from Walmart at one of the shows where we exhibited Scraft products. They convinced me to visit a Best Price store (now operated under Flipkart Wholesale) and see the operations ourselves. After some deliberation, we started the supplies, and this was our very first association with a modern retail company. It has been very beneficial in terms of product development, packaging and working in an organized and systematic way, âshe adds.
In terms of operations and manufacturing, Scraft has also grown as a private label manufacturer for multinationals and large corporations. It also has various manufacturing certifications such as SA1000 at Intertek.
As a B2C and B2B brand, Shivani says Scraft’s business consists of small but âbigâ orders.
Pivots that make sense for business
Like most other businesses in the country, Shivani’s business struggled during the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Speaking of the challenges faced, she says, âRaw material sourcing, work passes and licenses as well as supply chain disruptions were some of the initial hurdles,â she says.
She has worked to accelerate Scarft’s digitization journey and explore online selling for business continuity and market access. Her Walmart support network has remained close to suppliers like her over the past year, and through them, Shivani was introduced to the Walmart Vriddhi program.
It made sense for Shivani to turn to manufacturing hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes with its own distribution network. This, she says, has helped maintain the brand and take care of Scraft’s 70 employees while also contributing to the company’s bottom line.
In addition to running a successful national business, Shivani wanted to explore the globalization of her brand, but she had limited knowledge on this front, as well as a lack of good leads.
Enrolling in Walmart’s Vriddhi program last year worked to its advantage. The virtual trainings helped her understand what she needed to do to develop her business in this area.
âThe information we have received on the marketing of our products has been useful. In fact, as a result, we have started to receive export orders for our products and business is picking up. If things go as planned, we hope to exceed 25% of our pre-COVID export sales, âshe said.
Today, Scraft exports to Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
The Vriddhi program has also helped Shivani gain essential business knowledge on marketing and branding, as a result of which she sees an increase in demand for her products. So far, it has managed to recover 60-70% of its pre-COVID sales. She hopes to return to the Rs 50 crore turnover she had before the pandemic.
âThe whole experience has become a valuable learning experience for us. I am now looking forward to fundraising and being the leader in the disposable category. Right now, I can say I’m in a good space, âsays Shivani.
A first-time mother who gave birth to her baby during the pandemic, Shivani wants to encourage other women entrepreneurs and leaders to pursue their professional dreams and overcome challenges. She is now looking to hire a woman as a production manager in her business and hopes to empower more women in management and leadership roles as her business grows.