Empathy, ambition, and the drive to make a difference - these are the distinct qualities that set her apart. Meet the woman who has redefined success, changed lives, and mobilized women around her, making them all part of her story of triumph. This International Women’s Day, Amazon India takes great pride in lauding the woman entrepreneur who stands strong behind the brand with a difference - Anju Srivastava, CEO, and Founder, Wingreen Farms Private Ltd.
Today her children Omar, Vikram, and Zoha Srivastava (see pic above) who actively run the business with their mother, share her success story with us.
Anju and her husband Arjun Srivastava established Wingreen Farms in the year 2008, delving into India’s agrarian economy to cultivate exotic herbs and introduced the country to the lip-smacking taste of delicious fresh pesto. The brand name stems from Women's Initiative Network (WIN) that was a network of women who Anju worked with to start her business. Over the years, the company has been able to shell out more than 200 varieties of dips, sauces, and easy-to-bake mixes. Today, over a decade later, it holds a 90% market share in the food condiments category across the country. In 2018-19 alone, the company had an annual revenue of over Rs. 50 crores!
Navigating unexplored territories
Wingreen Farms was originally established as a potted herb and indoor plant company. But Anju and Arjun were both shocked at the plight of farmers in the country and they realized that the industry was facing a major deadlock in many ways. Farmers weren’t paid enough for the crops they cultivated. Primarily, only the more popular crops such as wheat, rice, or mustard were grown in most lands. Armed with the knowledge and the intent to make a difference, Anju decided to turn the tables.
Going door-to-door in a small village called Daddu, next to Delhi NCR, she convinced farmers to rent out their lands to the company, promising them a fixed monthly rent in addition to extra revenue generated from growing crops. She was also successful in convincing these farmers to allow the women in their households to work for Wingreen Farms.
Soon Wingreen Farms was able to cultivate exotic herbs like lemongrass, basil, peppermint, and thyme on the rented lands to yield a higher income. With surplus production, Anju also realized that the market value was far below her expectations. In what can be termed a ‘eureka’ moment, Anju approached a local Spencer’s outlet asking them to allow customers to try out her freshly made basil pesto recipe with chips. It was an instant hit and kick-started her journey of becoming one of the most successful women entrepreneurs of new-age India.
Her son Vikram Srivastava recalls how Wingreen Farms was the only company in India creating pesto dips back in 2011. “Even the hummus available here was largely imported. Salsa was already available, although with a short shelf life of a year. In 2011, manufacturing and processing of fresh pesto was the most innovative thing a company in India could do.”
Building new pathways for women
While women empowerment stories are always special, what makes Anju’s journey truly spectacular is that she has always followed her heart, ensuring the community she works with benefits as much as her. In fact, when Anju just founded Wingreen Farms, it was only called WIN which translated to Women’s Initiative Network.
As her younger son Omar Srivastava mentions, “WIN means to empower. Our mother was looking for ways to empower women in India. The company’s name gradually changed to Wingreen Farms where the freshness of the herbs we grew also became a part of the brand’s identity.”
Hiring women laborers on their farms, the company empowers them by giving them financial independence. All these women are trained to cultivate more than 150 fresh herbs, use them in several recipes and also manufacture them in a number of batches to sell in local markets. Wingreen Farms has also partnered with several NGOs that provide free education to the children of these women laborers. This creates a steady work-life balance and helps them stay updated with their childrens’ education, whilst carrying out their work throughout the day. Anju Srivastava is slowly but surely creating the way for more female entrepreneurs through her heart meets smart business model.
Way ahead for Wingreen Farms
Wingreen Farms is now being managed by her children, Zoha, Vikram, and Omar Srivastava. As the three siblings work together to facilitate the company’s vision, they remain inspired by their mother’s hard work, dedication, and working for the greater good.
“The ratio of women entrepreneurs is not equal to men in India. There is definitely a long road ahead but I think we are slowly creating awareness. Women are now being given more credit for the contributions that they are making in their respective fields”, says Zoha, adding that her mother’s story as a successful woman entrepreneur will always be a legacy she proudly upholds.
Overcoming challenges and moving forward
In 2020, Wingreen Farms shifted its focus to online sales due to the nationwide lockdown. While that was a challenge in itself, the company was able to expand its reach tremendously, with Amazon delivering and popularizing its products in Tier II and III cities as well. Wingreen Farms also has a few direct exporters to other countries. In January 2021, the company acquired Raw Pressery, the maker of cold-pressed juices in India, and with this acquisition, the future only looks bigger, better, and brighter for the company.