India’s first brand, by Dr. Minal Kabra, that makes sun-baked cookies is doing wonders to change lives.
Dr. Minal Kabra, a Jalna-based dentist from Maharashtra is offering sugar-free, vegan and gluten-free cookies. Not only this, these cookies are made using solar energy while also providing employment to rural women. The Pune-based startup ‘Kivu’ has been a revolutionary effort by Dr. Minal Kabra. Minal had practiced dentistry in Jalna for 14 years. She used to treat children with dental problems regularly. She realized the cause of this problem was due to the high intake of sugar in children.
The start of an idea:
She used to make these cookies for her family during festivals. Later, her husband encouraged her to turn this into a profession. The technique of solar cooking was also present in her family. So she started out baking bread, pizzas and cake, and eventually tried cookies. Dr. Minal Kabra started out with her partner Vaibhav Dugar, with a self-investment of around Rs. 6 lakh.
After 4 years of research and development about ingredients, baking methods and marketing, Kivu was finally launched in December 2019. With the onset of the lockdown, their cookies flew off the shelves. But, after that capturing the retail market was a difficult task for them. So, they shifted focus to online platforms. Currently, Kivu is present in 18 cities across the country and also online portals.
The brand ‘KIVU’:
The name Kivu comes from two words, ‘Ki’ meaning inner energy in Japanese and ‘vu’ meaning seeing in French. This 1 and half-year-old entity manufactures about 30 kgs of cookies a day today. The company has baked more than 1400 kgs of cookies to date. Their range includes Jowar based Ginger Lemon cookies, Amaranth-based Rajgira Coconut cookies, Whole wheat-based Cinnamon Cookies and then chocolate-based Coco Choco and Chocolate oats cookies. People are nowadays, moving away from dairy and gluten. So, they use alternatives such as jaggery, vegetable oil, and depending on the cookie type, we use amaranth, jowar, whole wheat, oats, or coconut as a base. There are no artificial flavours in our cookies.
We believe that a Happy Planet thrives on Happy Food & it is our vision to serve the healthiest food that is delicious, accessible, exciting & socio-environmentally responsible.
Talking about solar baking, it is very different from traditional baking standards. The cooker that they use is of a special kind. It takes some pre-heating and a 1 kg batch takes about 40-50 minutes to prepare. Depending on the various seasons, they need to change the proportions. The mixing, temperatures vary with different seasons. As the sun is used to prepare the batches, they need to be mindful of the seasons. They usually prepare extra batches in the summer, citing the monsoon season. One of the biggest benefits of solar cooking is that it does not take away the necessary nutrients of a product. This makes the cookies much healthier. Also, the original taste is retained to a far extent and one can taste the flavours distinctively like lemon in the lemon ginger cookies.
Impact on the environment:
The solar cooker saves so much fuel by baking thousands of cookies, till now. Every 2 kgs cookies prevent a kg of CO2 from entering the environment, using solar cookers. So far, the company has helped save 825 kgs of C02. Dr. Mina Kabra also plans on spreading this technology to rural areas where firewood is still used for cooking. This would not only save trees but also improve the health of women there.
People’s eating habits are changing, they are now more conscious about what goes in their bodies. This is the perfect time to change people’s minds about healthy and tasty eating options. For now, Minal is happy to have started a venture that is providing a healthy lifestyle to many. They have also started research to launch solar-baked savouries that are vegan and gluten-free.
“I am glad to have started this venture that addresses multiple issues and benefits a large set of people and the planet.”.
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