Not all stories have a fairy tale beginning, but they can certainly have a magical ending. Sakshi Guha’s story is nowhere near the end but is one of resilience, faith, hope, and courage. She lost her job due to covid and did not know how to support her family, precisely when the idea of ‘Bengali Love Café’ struck her. Not only did Sakshi build a new identity for herself, but she also gave her mother, Mrs. Deepa Guha, dignity. Who would have thought that a simple Bengali girl growing up in Muzaffarnagar will transform half of the capital’s eating habits?
Sakshi started her business with just the help of her 67-year-old mother and rope in more women who needed a livelihood during such unprecedented times. She imports all her raw material directly from Kolkata. The best part is that her suppliers in Kolkata are also women. She started with the idea of a tiffin service to support her family financially. Still, it culminated into a beautiful café that caters to over 200 people daily and earns her a revenue of two lakh Indian Rupees a month.
She began with distributing leaflets in and around her locality with the hope of getting customers for her tiffin service. Her mother’s culinary skills worked magic, and she was able to scale into a café soon. Even now, after such a good response and colossal demand, Mrs. Guha prepares all the delicacies herself. They have hired women to help with other things like; peeling, cleaning, chopping, and arranging,
‘My mother does all the cooking, and I’ve never heard her complain.’ ~ Sakshi told KenFolios in an interview.
Once Sakshi’s business started getting a steady customer response, she decided to convert it into a cloud kitchen. They registered Bengali Love Café with Zomato and began receiving orders online from 15th January 2020. After which, she also partnered with Swiggy, Magic Pin, India Mart, and Dunzo to make sure that her product reached more people. She also supplies cooking raw materials like; spices used explicitly in Bengali cuisine to people who need them. Her other vertical, Groceries on wheels, which was set up in May 2020 has been performing exponentially. All these raw materials are imported from Kolkata and are of the highest quality.
A little after the success of their cloud kitchen, the mother-daughter duo rented a small space to open an outlet and launched it in May 2020. They offer over 50 Bengali delicacies that include luchi chicken curry and luchi chicken kosha, snacks such as luchi o aloo chorchori, Kolkata jhaal muri, and scrumptious combo meals including doi maach combo and jharna ghee bhaat with aloo sheddo, to name a few. The best part is that they also provide traditional ‘Bengali bhog’ items and seasonal sweets.
“We offered jobs to around 30 women in the neighbourhood. Like my mother, these were homemakers with no exposure to the business. But with some assistance, they can now earn more money,” says Sakshi.
Starting a business with no seed money or help from anyone and scaling it to the level Sakshi did within a year is commendable. She set up Bengali love café foundation to help people in need by providing them with free meals and fruits. She not only empowered herself and her mother but so many women who were in need – setting a benchmark of empathy while also helping the underprivileged.
This story is written by Arshita Singh.
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