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Dr Minal Kabra co-founded healthy cookie brand Kivu to empower rural women, save the planet

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Dr Minal Kabra co-founded Kivu, a maker of the world’s only sun-baked vegan and gluten-free cookies. The Maharashtra-based business also empowers rural women.

What if munching means helping to offer employment and sustenance to rural women while also doing your part to help the environment? That is the distinguishing feature of the Maharashtra-based cookie company Kivu – Kingdom of Good Food.

Kivu, a foodtech firm founded in 2019 by Dr. Minal Kabra and Vaibhav Dugar, claims to be the world’s only sun-baked vegan cookies.”

The co-founders say, “Kivu’s approach to health is comprehensive. We hope to enable rural women to bake our exclusive vegan and gluten-free cookies using specially constructed solar ovens by weaving the customer, the producer, and the environment in a symbiotic relationship. This simple departure from traditional factory-based manufacturing creates a sustainable livelihood for rural women while also preventing five grammes of CO2 per cookie from being released into the atmosphere, as would have occurred if traditional fuel-fired ovens had been used.”

Kivu’s CEO, Vaibhav Dugar, is an electronics and telecommunications engineer, while Dr. Minal is a skilled dentist who has transitioned into a social entrepreneur.

Kivu provides rural women from in and around Jalna, Maharashtra with training and raw materials for manufacturing and production. When opposed to standard baking, solar baking has the distinct advantage of being a gentler procedure that aids in the retention of more nutrients. It is eco-friendly since there are no emissions from fossil fuels.

Furthermore, it is well-suited to a rural setting because the ovens are modular, require no external fuel or energy, have no maintenance costs, and require no special skillset to operate.

Kivu’s manufacturing takes place in the Maharashtra area of Jalna, with a core team of six individuals, and their sales and marketing team is situated in Pune.

Kivu cookies are currently available in five varieties, including vegan and gluten-free versions.

Choco Oats, Rajgira Coconut, Cinnamon, Ginger Lemon, Coco Choco, and various combo packs are among them.

The cookies cost between Rs 135 for 120g and Rs 580 for 570g combination packs.

In addition, sun baking produces a characteristic crunch that consumers of all ages like. Kivu cookies are sold both online and offline, with the majority of sales occurring on their website, kivu.in.

They also have over 80 modern retail shops in 20 cities around the country and are present on many ecommerce platforms.

Dr Minal emphasises that no artificial preservatives, additives, flavours, refined sugar, or refined flour are used in Kivu’s goods.

“Consumers assume that eating healthy is unpleasant to the tastebuds. Kivu’s products, on the other hand, taste excellent, which is why we’ve seen constant growth in return consumers, who have also become brand ambassadors.”

Vaibhav adds, “Kivu’s rural setup has enabled the company to deliver greater value to rural people.”

The impact is still minor due to the enormous issues that our planet faces, but we are content with what we can do on all fronts – consumers, planet, and communities.”

Kivu’s team invested about Rs 6 lakh to get things going. They made Rs 3 lakh in sales in the first year (December 2019 – March 2020) and Rs 33 lakh in the preceding fiscal year.

Dr Minal says being available on numerous ecommerce platforms has also enabled Kivu to reach Indian cities that we could not reach through traditional retail.

When asked about competitors, Vaibhav says, “Right now, we are India’s sole brand in the sun-baked healthy snacking area. We are also the only ones in the world who use the sun’s heat to bake our products. Our products are hand-baked by rural women, and this distinguishes us as an eco-conscious, health-focused brand that helps rural families.”

Kivu’s team now plans to scale from one cluster to ten, empowering over 200 women by 2024, based on the confidence of multiple clients who have placed repeat orders. They also hope to expand into additional savoury and snack categories while adhering to their main ideals of employing healthy ingredients and helping rural women.


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