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Over 7,000 Retail Outlets, GO DESi Taking Rural Food To Urban Consumers

Dimple Gupta
Dimple Gupta
Vinay Kothari - Founder of GO Desi

On a trekking trip over rural Karnataka in December 2017, Bengaluru-based Vinay Kothari came across a small tea shop selling jackfruit bars which were made by a local self-help group (SHG). 

Actually the visit was by design. I got a yummy candy from a friend in Bengaluru and I decided to check it myself” said Kothari, the GO DESi founder, who bought all the bars then and there to test it among urban people. Evidently, he found the jackfruit bar so delicious that it made him take such regional foods to the urban consumers and also create a channel for revenue to rural women. 

Inspiration for GO DESi

In a flea market at the Chitrakala Parishath in the Garden City, Kothari bought 30 kg of the bars and booked a stall. “I booked a stall for 3 days to sell the bars but they were sold within half a day,” said Kothari. 

This inspired Kothari that he could make such rural foods for urban consumers at a good price, as a result, he went ahead and launched his own company GO DESi in 2018. In a 3-year time span, the company has today become an important player in the home-grown packaged food sector betting on Indian flavors and formats and becoming the top-selling candy on Amazon. 

Kothari said, We have grown by 3X every year. Our success is because we source every ingredient that goes into our GO DESi products, directly from farmers in Karnataka. We aspire to be the modern version of Lijjat pappad.”  

The Journey Begins 

GO DESi began by offering DESI pops which are spicy tamarind or imli lollipops that also contain jaggery as an ingredient. Now, they are offering similar lollipops in mango. “We have now introduced desi chats and added pineapple and guava. We have entered the desi mithais (sweet) segment and offer single piece barfis”, he said. 

Kothari’s firm is planning to revive the forgotten flavors across the country and to take them to the global market. Earlier, Kothari has worked in multinational firms like ITC. “We directly source tamarind with farmers and we get jaggery from Mandya in Karnataka. We have dedicated manufacturing units that are given specifications on even measures for sugarcane juices”, said Kothari. 

Mango and pineapple are sourced through vendors, while the company prepares fruit pulp through the manufacturing units distributed by it and also does the quality and other mandatory checks, then transports these to SHGs for making the final product besides packing. 

Empowered the Locals  

“The company collaborates with women and micro-entrepreneurs from the rural and semi-urban areas to do the manufacturing part, which empowers local communities by providing them with a consistent source of income,” he said. 

It fixes the rate at the start of the season and also the monthly quantity to be delivered. We have to start booking and blocking our supplies since other traders will be ready to buy them off”, said Kothari when asked about whether the firm has entered into any contract farming with tamarind growers.  

On the other side, the growers are made to offer value-added products, like in the case of tamarind farmers, as they have to break the shells and clean the product before supplying it to the company. Kothari added “This gets them good returns. Say, if a grower gets 10 percent from selling shelled tamarind at Rs 20, he stands to gain by offering the value-added  tamarind at Rs 120 and getting the 10 percent.” 

Fluid Arrangements 

The firm has its arrangements fluid and has agreements, though verbal, in place. But the firm does not enter into contracts. This arrangement also ensures rural jobs like cleaning and shelling, people have to be employed. 

“The arrangement of working with farmers, having manufacturing units and deploying SHGs ensures everyone again. GO DESi has employed 50 persons and deployed 200 women entrepreneurs to supply the finished products. 

“Payments are made directly to their bank accounts. This helps them to get loans from banks for white goods such as washing machines and refrigerators”, said Kothari. 

Forthcoming Expansion plans   

Currently, the products are available in over 7,000 retail outlets of Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. We are now expanding to the east, west, and north. We are moving towards a Rs 25 crore turnover and plan to increase it to Rs 100 crore next fiscal”, he told. 

Currently, 50 farmers are engaged in meeting the company’s needs. To reach out to the growers the firm had to depend on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the beginning, but now they are coming on their own. 

“We ultimately aim to be a large brand company like Amul that started from farm-based products”, he said. 

Currently, GO DESi is present both online and offline, which gets at least 500 orders daily. Total funding of Rs 8.58 crores have been received so far in two rounds of fundraising.

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