Where there is a will there is a way! While everyone would have heard this adage many times, few apply it in their life. And Millets Samanthaka Mani from the city, founder of SM Millet Foods (Ph 8297920623), is someone who has made a mark of her own by following it to the T.
Born and brought up in Vaira village in Khammam district, Mani had a child marriage and she shifted to Hyderabad with her husband in 1997. Soon after she gave birth to a daughter, things started to fall apart in her marriage and she became a single mother at the age of 18. Not wanting to depend on anyone, she did not go back to her maternal home. “I studied only up to Intermediate. In my school days, I learnt making handicrafts and weaving bags; I even trained many women in my surroundings. That initially helped me to take care of my little daughter,” says Mani who also learnt painting course from Ramananda Teertha Institute near Pochampalli.
‘As the time goes by, we have to update ourselves with the world’ is what she believed. So, later, Mani also pursued tailoring and fashion designing course from JNTU and through that she was able to have a better living. While pursuing the course, she visited a few slum areas trying to empower women and encouraging them to make their living.
“We always used sprouted chiru dhanyaalu (millets) at home. When we were kids, my mother used to explain the importance of millets and how people are forgetting the nutritious value they add to our food. My brother stays in Germany; he wanted ready-mixes made of sprouts so he can have jaava (porridge), which my mother used to make. So, I started to make these at home and used to courier them to him. When his friends also wanted these ready-mixes, I would make them in bulk for them as well and send them across, but not for money. Later, as the demand grew, it was not possible for me to supply them for free, and most of my well-wishers advised me to charge for the products I make, and that’s how it all started,” says Mani.
Now, Mani is a successful woman entrepreneur, who is running her business with the help of her maternal uncle. “With my uncle’s help, we started a processing unit in Vaira wherein we wash millets like arikalu, jonnalu, saamalu, oodalu, and sajjalu korralu thoroughly and allow them to sprout – the nutrition value is more in sprouts than the seeds. Then, the sprouts would be ground and this flour can be used for Chekkalu, Chakralu, Murukulu, Janthikalu, Laddullu, Boondi, Kajjikaayailu, Boorelu, besides Idli, Dosa, Chapathi and jaava ready-mixes,” says Mani, adding that a major part of her flour-making is done in Vaira due to availability of labour.
Mani is exporting her ready sprouted mixes to the USA, London, Germany and Canada. “As a lot of people are becoming increasingly conscious about healthy eating, I came up with this concept to help people learn how to make a particular dish with chirudhnayaalu, taste it, and, then, buy and try in their home. I am just doing my part to help people be happy and healthy,” says Mani, who considers her daughter who is pursuing her first-year bachelor’s degree as her “right hand”.