Hyderabad: Entrepreneurship can mean different things to different people but for Namita Banka becoming an entrepreneur was all about having an identity while adhering to societal norms. Born, brought up and married into a traditional Marwari family, Banka was always a seeker and wanted to do something different out of her life. However, the family situation was such that she was not allowed to work outside of the home so she found a way to work from home and still make a name for herself.
The founder of Banka BioLoo – a total sanitation solution provider – Banka started off as a stay-at-home jewellery designer in Surat in the late 1990s and continued the same business in Bengaluru. And that is where the problem of not finding a toilet hit her and because of which she suffered health issues. However, for a long time Banka did not give much thought to it and got into the business of waste management after moving to Hyderabad in 2008, but that was also not a very successful run for her. And that is when the idea of starting something related to sanitation struck her as she was always passionate about making a difference.
So in early 2010, she started the Banka Enterprise to provide controlled discharge toilet systems (CDTS) for the Indian Railways. This proved to be the first step towards her journey in the sanitation field and her third attempt at entrepreneurship.
“When I was very young, one of my father’s friend told me that one day you will become a successful businesswoman. And somehow those words got inked in my memory and subconsciously I was always trying to do something out of the box. So when my in-laws did not allow me to go out to work, I started doing business from home and that is my way of maintaining a balance between family and work,” explains Banka with a twinkle in her eyes.
In terms of challenges, Banka believes that entrepreneurship is same for anyone – whether male or female. However, the bigger challenge for women entrepreneurs is the need to keep going and not give in to external pressures like family, co-workers, legalities, and customers.
“The problem in our country is that woman-run businesses are not taken seriously and we women also were given very easily. It is important that women first believe in themselves and have strong determination to fight all odds. Whenever there is a situation it is important to discuss it and get them resolved with patience and perseverance,” Banka informs.
For Banka, money, net worth, profits are not a big motivator but to be able to make a difference in the lives of many people is what gives her immense satisfaction. And this can be gauged from the fact that she has given the reins of the finances to her chief financial officer (CFO) and concentrates only on her work. An advice that Banka wants to give an entrepreneur is that they should worry about the net value of the company and not the day-to-day cash expenses.
Banka BioLoo started off as an enterprise and later became a private limited company in 2012. It uses the bio-digester technology to provide eco-friendly sanitation solutions.
The company’s products include bio-toilets (or bioloos) for families, public and community bio-toilets and bio-toilets for schools and institutions, bio-tanks for Indian Railways, bio-digesters (the bacterial culture) , and upgrade of septic tanks to bio-tanks.
The technology used by the company is licensed by Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO). The company is present in 19 States across India with six regional offices.
It was started with an investment of Rs 10 lakh and has raised close to Rs 4 crore in the last six years of its operations.
While the first customer of the company was
the Indian Railways, Banka informs that they have worked with companies like Larsen and
Toubro, Tata group along with building some for individual households.
Going ahead, Banka BioLoo is all set to go public and has already filed the papers to be listed on National Stock Exchange SME platform and Banka is hopeful that by end of this year the listing should happen.
Banka BioLoo has its manufacturing plant in Cherlapally in Hyderabad where it makes these toilets for different customers.