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From Homemaker to Entrepreneur, at 50 - Asha Mallaya, Single Mother, Founder of Gruhaswaad

The Entrepreneurial behaviour of any individual is exhibited either when someone provokes or when the need is created. Read this story of the woman who created a need for herself to become an entrepreneur at the age of 50 and stands as an example for those aspiring women who wish to become entrepreneurs.
After having completed her BA in psychology, she was married at the age of 24 to the love of her life. She continued to live a happy homely family life, until when life’s certain incidences during the journey made her become an entrepreneur, irrespective of her age. Meet Asha Mallaya, 50, Founder of Gruhaswaad, a wonderful mother and an inspiration to a lot of women out there.
Asha Mallaya
Asha was born and brought up in the city of palaces - Mysore, India, where her family gave its best to provide the best education possible, to make her an independent woman. While she pursued  her BA (Bachelor of Arts) in psychology, she also fell in love with Mr Janardhan, who was her brother’s friend. The bonding increased with each other as years passed. Immediately after her graduation, her parents decided to get her married to the same person. “I have always lived a very happy life. I was always like a tomboy kind of a person.  My parents supported me in whatever I did, but I was not allowed to do my masters degree since they felt I would cross the age of being able to get married. That is the kind of mindset they had. I ended up getting married at the age of 24 to Janardhan” she says.

Married life was truly a happy one for Asha; soon, they had a daughter who added more happiness in the family. All went smooth for twenty four years of her married life, when the family would hang out, spend quality time to support each other, discuss about each others’ problems trying to solve them all, make time for each other, and have all the fun one could ever imagine . They all lived together in a joint family, which means there was more fun, bonding, attachment with more number of people. Asha always loved being at home, taking care of the family, creating small craft designs whenever she found time for herself. She was that selfless woman, who tried to keep everyone around her happy. All went good until one day when her mother-in-law expired, which was a moment of loss of huge strength for the family. By the time the family had slowly moved out of the hard feeling, there was another loss of a member in the family that left Asha devastated. She had lost her husband, who was always there to support her and keep her happy.  The situation gave a pause to all the good situations in the family; a pause to all her dreams for her family. It was definitely not easy to face the scenario - the way she would be considered by others, the way people would talk about her, the way people would show sympathy seeing her condition, the way her life was made incomplete, the way she had to further take care of herself and the family, the way she had to take care of the finances - all of this shattered her.
Asha Mallaya
The door of opportunities open, when one has faith during the time of challenges. Same is what was planned for Asha’s life. Her daughter began to inspire her to utilize the time she had. While she thought of what to do, she realized a lot of her relatives and friends used to always compliment her for the food she prepared. So, she began to get trained to prepare homemade chocolates, after which she started preparing them and a lot of her peers wanted to buy them. This was the kick-starter to her journey of entrepreneurship. For a lady who never experienced businesses, it was the time when she began to explore the world of entrepreneurship. Asha’s home-made chocolates were loved by all and the word of mouth began to bring in more customers. She recalls her first experience, “Believe it or not, the first investment was only Rs. 1000, and later, I began to again invest all the money I earned from selling the chocolates I made. The cycle continued and slowly the profit margin increased. I was so happy to see that so many people loved the chocolates”. The profits were a proof of the quality of chocolates that were prepared.

Asha began to connect with more people through the network she built at Business Network International (BNI), an organization that helps build referral networks. She used her creativity to present the chocolates well too. As the profit increased, the menu of Gruhaswaad increased - it had a variety of mouth watering instant mixes. The business continues to gain the attention of many, from around the city. Gruhaswaad has so far been maintained by this daring lady herself, “Like a one woman army, I have single handedly been managing the business so far. There is support from my sister-in-law, who joins to help me whenever she is able to make time. My daughter is currently working as a company secretary. So, it would not be possible for her to be able to do it, but she tries to contribute whenever it is possible for her. Otherwise, it is just me and I do not have a problem with that. I love doing it and keeping myself busy too. In a couple of months, we shall have a website from which people from anywhere can order for the items. I am truly excited to see myself growing the business. Although sometimes there are people who try to criticize me, I still continue to do what I do, because I know that I am on the right path and I must face challenges when I do the right things” says she. Having believed that her husband’s soul continues to remain with the family, Asha moves on fearlessly, facing the everyday challenges and crossing those hurdles. Her life is an exemplar to those who feel it is impossible to start late, If I can start at this age, anybody can. Moreover, women should not feel that they have money and hence think that they need not work or start their businesses; They need to keep themselves busy and also, they need to understand that being an entrepreneur can help them in so many more ways. Entrepreneurship can be understood and felt only when experienced. The feeling of being an entrepreneur is definitely a booster for our confidence,” are her words of experiences. Evolution of more such entrepreneurs is a huge inspiration for youngsters to understand and realize that entrepreneurship is about starting now, moving courageously, irrespective of who is there by his/her side. Asha’s life is in itself, a story of glory that proves that nothing but belief, with efforts is the most essential part for the growth in one’s life.

You could reach Asha Mallaya through Facebook - to order for chocolates, a wide variety of instant mixes and for loads of inspiration!

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 22nd March 2016.
IJ Kavyashree
IJ Kavyashree is a contributing writer at Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine.

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