“Love is the foundation of business” – The principle that created a global social enterprise that has market presence in 60+ countries
If you have read ‘The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid’ by the late Dr. C.K. Prahalad, then you might recall a case study on Jaipur Rugs, one of India’s largest manufacturers of hand knotted rugs. Nand Kishore Chaudhary started Jaipur Rugs with his deep love and passion to preserve and nurture the skills of rural artisans who create carpets. Started with just 2 looms and 9 artisans in 1978, the organisation today exports to 60+ countries, while providing sustainable livelihood to 40,000 artisans in 600 remote villages across 5 states in India. 80% of these artisans are women.
“People often ask me what is the secret to success. When I give my answer (love is the foundation), many think I am joking” – N.K. Chaudhary
In his own words, love is the foundation of the business he has built. It didn’t make him the richest in money terms. It did make him one of the richest in terms of wealth accumulated consciously!
Short bio of Nand Kishore Chaudhary
Born on June 13, 1953 in a marwari family in Churu, Rajasthan, India, N.K. Chaudhary initially joined his father’s shoe business during college. Soon after college, he had 2 realisations – one, he wasn’t keen to do a job (he had an offer to be a cashier in a bank) and two, his love for the skills of artisans who made carpets and rugs. He borrowed Rs. 5000 (less than $100) from his father, and bought 2 looms for 9 artisans in Churu. Rest, is a long story of love, compassion and perseverance. In the first 10 years, the organisation eliminated middlemen and started direct exports. In the next 10, N.K. Chaudhary expanded the base of weavers to 6000 by expanding to tribal artisans of Gujarat. Imagine the 2 vastly different worlds – a customer in the USA and a tribal making the product in one of the remotest areas imaginable! The next decade was a very tough transition to professionalise the organisation (or make the professionals learn!). The artisan’s network grew to 40,000 during this time. The last decade has been a decade of global acclaim – C.K. Prahalad’s book, E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year, a mention in the book by Raj Sisodhia and Michael J. Gelb. It has also been a decade for the next generation in the family to lead various initiatives as N.K. Chaudhary created the new vision for 2020 and beyond. Read more about him here
“Our vision is to create the best artisan proposition for the Global Hand Knotted carpet industry, by connecting the artisans and customers directly to each other and nurturing co-creation” – N.K. Chaudhary
What made him succeed, and how anyone can
N.K. Chaudhary was aware of the need to financially support himself and his family. However, the reason for starting the business was not just for money. It was his passion to promote rural craftspeople and their art. It could have been due to the family values, influence of people in his life, the books he read, proximity to many artisans in Churu district or a combination of all of these. What it did was create a very robust mindset and purpose. If the purpose was to earn money, he could have chosen many other alternatives in face of failure. But this purpose ensured that he stayed in the game for as long as possible.
We, at PurpleCrest, have observed this to be a common characteristic of successful entrepreneurs, especially social entrepreneurs – a purpose that is larger than life. The journey is hard, so motivation that is strong enough to overcome obstacles is required.
Today, so many aspects of business building have become easy. Capital, distribution & reach, tools for sales and marketing, product development and more. With that has come information overload. Everyone seems to be trying to ‘sell’ something. Why trust? That is the lesson from N.K. Chaudhary’s success. He started with love for the artisans. Whatever he did as a result, built trust. That trust led to more and more artisans joining him. That resulted in beautiful products that customers loved – globally. And he created success.
Can you think of an audience who you love? If love is a strong word, change the language to empathise, care for etc. You get the idea. If the ‘Why’ of your business or profession is a deep sense of empathy or love for the target audience’s well-being as a result of what you are doing, then you are set on a very very solid footing.
Developing ‘Idea Muscle’: 10-minutes Problem Solver Brainstorm
As you know, this is based on James Altucher’s daily practice to become an Idea Machine. As he (an American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur and best-selling author) says, Ideas are the currency of life, not money. Read more on the concept directly on his blog.
Here’s what we do. Our team takes the core principle or secret sauce of success shared in the newsletter above and then generates as many ideas as possible by asking 1 question – ‘What are the 10-actions we can take this week for our personal growth and success (in business or career)?’ In 10-minutes only. Some are random, some are good. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the process of 10-minutes ‘group brainstorm’ to develop the idea muscle together.
A challenge for you – generate 3 more (just 3) ideas other than the below list and share back with us by replying to this email. Easy? Let’s see what you come up with! If nothing else, it will develop your idea muscle.
On to our list of ideas
- Create a list of hand-made products we use. Find artisans who make those. Ask how can we support them
- Go to Etsy.com. Find products that can be made by artisans in villages. Then start a business
- Identify 5 more social entrepreneurs like N.K. Chaudhary. At Least one of them will need help in business – marketing, technology, distribution, hiring. Work with them on a side-project
- Connect Jaipur Rugs with supply chain experts or leadership coaches (listen to the podcast for context). Learn networking in the process
- Identify one topic of mastery. Create a pitch. Share with Jaipur Rugs – they are in the process of professionalising. Learn pitching/selling in the process
- Create an online course on the topic of mastery. Then reach out to social entrepreneurs. They need lower cost of training their employees. Earn money and become even better in an area by teaching that
- Visit a craft village and write about the exciting travel destination featuring the art it represents
- Create an online platform that promotes dying art and craft in your state/country
- Pitch B-schools to conduct virtual marketing and management courses for the local artisans in the language they understand
- Create a youth orientation program in collaboration with Jaipur Rugs to sensitize the younger generation with the valuable
Which one is the most actionable for you? (not asking the best, as that will defeat the purpose). Which one is the most difficult to act on? Please share.
Then as a challenge, come up with 3 more. Share with us and we will share them in the community. Challenge some of your friends to come up with 1 more idea over and above yours (and ours). You will see that it does stretch the ‘idea muscle’. See where your chain breaks!
“I like to call my life journey the ‘University of Hard Rocks of my life’ as it was only after college that my real education began.” – N.K. Chaudhary