Curated By: Business Desk
Last Updated: October 04, 2023, 14:06 IST
Maria Kuriakose’s entrepreneurial dreams found fertile ground during the lockdown as she returned to her hometown in Thrissur, Kerala, from Mumbai. In a bid to reduce waste and promote sustainability, she initiated Thenga, a unique venture centred on transforming discarded coconut shells into intricately crafted bowls and various items. Kuriakose’s commitment to repurposing these once-overlooked shells reflects a growing global trend towards eco-conscious entrepreneurship, as individuals seek innovative solutions to environmental challenges. Thenga’s story showcases the potential for positive change when passion meets a desire to make a difference in the world of business.
These products are not only eco-friendly but also exceptionally appealing in terms of aesthetics. This factor has played a pivotal role in the remarkable growth of Thenga’s product sales within a mere four-year span. Currently, Maria has achieved an annual sales turnover of Rs 1 crore.
Currently, Maria’s startup employs 40 individuals, with a focus on women holding key positions within the company. Aishwarya Prabhakar serves as the Accounts Manager, Sumitha Anoop manages operations, and Sindhu oversees the packaging work.
Maria connected with a coconut shell artisan in Thrissur who had expertise in crafting decorative items like flowers from coconut shells. She shared her vision with him and arranged multiple meetings at his workshop. Maria asserted that the coconut shell presents a sustainable, practical, and long-lasting substitute for plastic, particularly in the production of kitchenware.
Maria had the opportunity to showcase her products to international delegates during an event hosted in Kovalam as a part of the G-20 conference held in India. Maria mentioned that the delegates were appreciative of both their products and the initiative behind them.
Thenga has been chosen as one of the 65 startups receiving support from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. The team at IIM Bangalore guided the Thenga team on strategies for business expansion and revenue growth.
Furthermore, it can easily undergo decomposition. In contrast to steel and plastic kitchenware, it can be fragmented into smaller pieces and can be mixed with soil.
Thenga is poised for significant growth and aims to broaden its reach in the future. Initially serving 3,000 customers, they aspire to make a substantial impact, reaching hundreds of thousands of individuals across a more extensive spectrum. They also have intentions to expand their product line to include coconut shell toys and containers. The goal is to promote more sustainable living practices and offer improved employment opportunities to the artisans of Kerala.