Sugar, Spice And Everything Nice
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The eighty-year-old pioneering entrepreneur from Ludhiana, Rajni Bector, rose from her backyard business with a meager investment of INR 300 to lucratively raising a staggering INR 541 crore from the market, and become an incontestable business mogul.
The initial public offering (IPO) of her company—Mrs. Bector's Food Specialities—made history by receiving oversubscribed 198 times and listing at a 74 per cent premium on the offer price.
Recognizing her contribution to the trade and industry, the Union government bestowed the most celebrated Padma Shri to Bector. She was among five beneficiaries from Punjab, who have been honored with the fourth chief civilian award.
“I feel blessed and express my gratitude to the central government for recognizing my services. I am feeling honored and want to thank my family, children, and staff. This is a very proud moment for me and for all at Bector’s. I would like to dedicate this award to all who have worked that extra mile to make this possible. I would also like to thank our customers, who believed in us, supported us, and continued relationships with us which motivated us to work harder to give them the best products in our category,” she told Entrepreneur India.
At the tender age of 17, she was married into a Ludhiana-based business family to DharamvirBector. When her three sons went to boarding school, Rajnienrolled for a bakery course at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU). There was no looking back for her from then on.
Initially, she used to entertain her friends with her expertise, but soon, with an investment of INR 300, she turned her kitchen into a small-scale business endeavor dishing out ice creams.
Reminiscing her initial years in the city, Bector recalled that the city has grown swiftly.
“When I came to Ludhiana in 1957, there used to be just four cars in the entire city,” she shared.
Bector was very fond of cooking and throwing parties. She would attend courses related to food or cooking that were available in Ludhiana. Soon, she started experimenting with cookies, salads, and ice creams and started inviting friends and their children to taste.
“Everyone appreciated the food. There were no caterers in the ’60s and ’70s, so I would do everything,” stated Bector.
Later, the INR 20,000 investment made her business grow exponentially and in another five years, her brand Cremica grew to a remarkable INR 5 crore turnover. Mrs. Bector’s soon became a household name and her firm clocked a turnover of INR 20 crore in 1995.
Her whirlwind rise crossed all boundaries when all leading international and national brands – McDonald’s, Café Coffee Day, Barista, Air India, Indian Railways, Taj Group, Hindustan Unilever, ITC, Spencer’s, Big Bazaar, Mondelez, Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut: became her direct customers buying from her supply of buns, burgers, breads, biscuits, ketchups, dips, spreads et al, broadening diverse horizons of her sales network.
Besides exporting products to 64 countries across six continents in the world, the more than 25-year-old company, established on September 15, 1995, also supplies bakes and cakes to retail consumers in 26 states across India.
Up to March 31, the company had a far-reaching supply chain for biscuits and breads through its 196 super-stockists and 748 distributors, further supplying to customers through 4.58 lakh retailers and 4,422 preferred exclusive outlets.
While she did face criticism from society when she started working, her husband supported her to ignore the naysayers.
“Back then, it was uncustomary for women in Ludhiana to work. So, it definitely raised a lot of eyebrows, but mostly, it was just jealousy,” Bector further shared.
Bector may have stepped back from actively running the business a decade ago but she is still involved when it comes to her products.
“My passion for food and my taste buds brought me this far. I still taste, select, and approve recipes for our products,” she smiled modestly with a hint of proud.
When asked about one pick of advice to today’s women, she cheeringly said, “My advice is not for the girls but for their parents. They should support their daughters in their every action and teach them to stand tall for their choice and always work hard because it always pays off.”
Mrs. Bector's success is an inspiration for countless women in India who dream of starting their own venture.
Basking in the glory of its stunning triumph in the stock market, the company plans to capitalize on growth in the packaged food industry.