Anju Rupal is a serial social entrepreneur who believes that girls are agents of change. A British-born Indian who now lives in a little village with her family in Switzerland, Anju’s background as a sociologist and ethnologist were truly brought into play when she visited India and witnessed the devastating lack of sanitation and education. She mobilised some of the most renowned industry experts from beauty and design to work pro-bono and contribute their skill sets to develop an all-natural skincare range, raising funds to ultimately make an impact in the lives of hundreds of girls in India. The fruit of her labour, Abhati Suisse, was successfully crowdfunded on Indiegogo, where it officially became a company. It has since been graced with the first-ever B Corp certification in Switzerland and coined by the media as "aesthetic activism".
What's special about Abhati Suisse and why did you start it?
Abhati is a skincare brand where I have brought expert chemists (or formulators) together to work pro bono and make a clean beauty skincare range inspired by my Indian heritage, where our proceeds are used to send a girl in India to school and hopefully help her step out of poverty. Every bottle sends a girl to school for a week.
How did you start Abhati Suisse? Did you have any previous experience as an entrepreneur? Were you still working at another job?
It has been a gradual transition from being a social worker to an entrepreneur and then years later a social entrepreneur using my acquired skills in social work and business to make a difference in this world “Using business as a force for good”.
How did you validate your idea?
We crowdfunded on Indiegogo successfully which showed us that Abhati had legs.
How did you finance your project?
We crowdfunded and all work currently pro-bono.
How did you market and promote Abhati Suisse when you started?
Elle or Vogue does not guarantee you success but having and growing a following has helped because firstly they love our products and are now learning about our impact.
What do you like most being an entrepreneur?
Being creative and making a difference. We get a pipeline of students from the top MBA university and it’s great to work alongside such smart individuals. And my joy is watching a girl step out of poverty through a simple act of getting access to an education.
What has been your biggest challenge/failure as an entrepreneur?
I’ve had many failures and it’s part of being an entrepreneur as it goes hand in hand with taking risks. Currently my challenge is as a self funded company we don’t have the marketing dollars and rely on our community to spread our work.
How do you see your business, moving forward?
More countries stocking Abhati and joining our movement of empowerment, more products being launched more girls being sent to school.
What's your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Try and work and learn firstly in a start up beside an entrepreneur who can mentor you. You can make mistakes on someone else’s cost, as it’s going to happen and you get possibly a free MBA this way.
What's your favourite quote?
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." - Helen Keller
We think it's a great startup story and shows how having a mission to make a difference when starting your businesss can drive your motivation, your creativty and get people to join forces to make things happen.
To learn more about Abhati Suisse, their products and program to help and empower girls in India, go to their website at : www.abhatisuisse.com
If you liked this interview, please share. Hopefully, we can inspire some new entrepreneurs for making a positive change.