Promoting Good Health with Spirulina
Mr. Rethnarajasingam is the program co-ordinator at Oferr Spirulina, an organization providing livelihood programs to Sri Lankan refugees in India. The cultivation and distribution of Spirulina across the nation and other countries began in 2002 and received prompt recognition for their training programs and effective production of Spirulina.
- What motivated you to start your venture?
The organization was started for the purpose of providing nutritious food to Eelam Tamil people in India. We started off in Madurai where we analyzed Spirulina as alternative food. For almost 2 years, Spirulina was a part of the livelihood program for the refugees following which the organization began gaining exposure through daily newspapers. Further, we built our technology and conducted training programs (15 days duration).
- Tell us more about your training program.
The program covers how Spirulina is grown, how to choose the location for its cultivation, maintenance, license, marketing and distribution techniques. We give training to as many as 4500 people apart from refugees.
- Talk about how your business is doing at present.
Currently, about 200 kilograms of Spirulina is produced in the state of Tamil Nadu alone. Spirulina distributed locally and across 12 countries including Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Jordan. Oferr Spirulina provides products such as Spirulina powder, capsules, cosmetics, biscuits, and juices etc. which are distributed to several organic stores.
- What are your future plans in expanding or bettering the business?
Spirulina is one of the richest sources of protein. In about 5 years, every household in the state of Tamil Nadu should make use of this incredible nutrient. As for business, we aim at establishing stand-alone shops as well as providing Spirulina products to pharmacies by 2017. Besides, I would like to promote intake of nutritious food from a very young age by making lifestyle changes and better food choices.
- What are the other disciplines that you are currently involved in?
Organic farming, animal husbandry, integrated farming and creating its awareness to farmers are some disciplines.
- Who inspires you?
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Mr. C. Chandra Hasan, founder and treasurer of Oferr Spirulina.
- Any advice you would like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Self-confidence is key. Get enough knowledge of the business, obtain training and then begin at a small level. After gaining experience and learning how to market the business, expand, perhaps after 6 months. Most importantly, you must like what you do to see the face of success in entrepreneurship.
- Where in India is it a popular food item? Why is Spirulina not a popular food item in Tamil Nadu?
Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the two states where Spirulina is used the most in the country. In Tamil Nadu, consuming Spirulina is popular but people still need to adopt it in their daily food choices.