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Innovation in the face of adversity: Neelima’s story

India

When India went into national lockdown in March 2020, it looked like Neelima’s company, which she had carefully built up over the years, was at risk of folding. Former dental practitioner Neelima Tippavajhla had just moved her drinks business to expensive new premises to capture maximum footfall in the bustling city of Hyderabad as the stay-at-home orders were announced. Hard work and innovation has seen her business come through the pandemic stronger than before.

Neelima started her business while she suffered from health complications during a pregnancy. She was recommended coconut water to stay hydrated and soon became interested in the varied health benefits from coconut products. After extensive research she developed a line of dairy- and preservative-free milkshakes and mocktails. The business was going from strength to strength and she had just opened up in a new prime location when COVID-19 hit. Neelima had invested all the company’s profits in the new walk-in store and a factory and was certain her business would fail without a route to market.

She got in touch with YBI’s member in India, Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST) who had helped provide a loan to the business in 2016 and they paired her with a business mentor.

With the support of her mentor, Neelima took her brand online within 10 days. In response to the pandemic she also launched a new product with special immunity boosting properties, marketed to help stay healthy during the crisis. The product has become her best seller and she’s hoping to increase her sales to pan-India by the end of 2021.

Neelima continues to innovate and is currently researching how to increase the shelf-life of coconut-based ice-cream.

“Entrepreneurs are the real heroes of any nation, who contribute a lot to society. Organisations like BYST and YBI are the manufacturers and supporters of these entrepreneurs and I’m grateful to be part of the YBI family.”

Neelmia receives support from BYST through our COVID-19 Rapid Response and Recovery Programme supported by Google.org, and with support from Accenture.

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