With An 80% Female-led And Incorporated Workforce, Nirvanaa Chocolates Gives These Women “The Freedom To Fail And The Freedom To Express Themselves”

In an exclusive conversation with Mumbai Live, Mitesh Shah, Managing Director for Nirvanaa Chocolates, a Belgium chocolate brand that offers ‘ultimate luxury chocolates’ at affordable prices, gives an insight into his female-driven brand.

With An 80% Female-led And Incorporated Workforce, Nirvanaa Chocolates Gives These Women “The Freedom To Fail And The Freedom To Express Themselves”

From having pursued a Masters in Marketing to running a diamond company, Mitesh Shah is now dabbling in the FMCG realm with Nirvanaa Chocolates.

Nirvanaa Chocolates actively takes initiatives for women empowerment as women remain the backbone of the community. MD Mitesh Shah believes that the route to women empowerment starts from financial independence. As a brand Nirvanaa Chocolates aims to provide driven women with the opportunities to earn financial independence and strengthen their position as decision-makers. These nuances coupled with Mitesh’s efforts have enabled the brand to grow stupendously amid the pandemic.

He brings Belgian chocolates to the Indian market with the hope of spreading delight.

To start, what made you dabble into the FMCG sector, one that is starkly different from the diamond company you ran?

It was a complete coincidence. I was living in Belgium for the past 11 years and every time I returned to India, there was a constant demand to bring Belgian chocolates for friends and family. A year and a half ago, I decided to return to India, during which I started looking for Belgium chocolates. However, I couldn’t find a regulated market for premium Belgium chocolates and the ones that existed were very expensive. That’s where the seed of starting the business for Belgium chocolates was planted.

How did you wade through the challenges you faced in the FMCG field, one that was particularly alien to you?

To be very honest, it is still very alien to me. The initial few months were tough, especially with the customs, logistics, etc. I didn’t expect the challenges to be this high, but I did not want to give up. I am glad to have faced the challenges head-on, as seeing the business flourish now gives me an immaculate level of satisfaction. Being an entrepreneur, I have learnt that nobody knows everything about a said concept. Learning happens on the go, so one has to keep trying, falling and move ahead. There will be setbacks, but if you fall walk slow for a while, eventually you will reach your destination. This is what I have believed in and that’s how I have kept moving forward.

Concepts of women empowerment are strongly embedded in your business model, with 80% of your workforce being female-led and incorporated. Is there, however, a specific incident that propelled you to incorporate this nuance?

I have grown up seeing female figures of the family working hard with passion, dedication and empathy, the results they bring in is far more polished and complete. Additionally, having had great examples of Indira Gandhi Ji, Indra Nooyi, Kalpana Chawla, whose work ethics, professionalism and dedication are unparalleled, has been a great motivation for me. The inspiration is around us, we just need to see it. The female influences around me have helped and given me direction. When I see their dedication to work, it is way above the men, even in my firm. The majority of females, according to me, lack opportunity and exposure. Giving them adequate freedom and putting all my confidence in them has made me realise that they can achieve better results.

Other than offering these women employment opportunities, are there any ancillary schemes that you undertake to aid them?

The company culture itself is one of the biggest positives. All the women working here have the freedom to fail and the freedom to express themselves. They have all the possible means needed to get the work done. There is nothing called failure in the company, it's only about learning. We also try to educate them on how to manage their finances well since financial literacy is crucial for young independent women. Making sure that they are aware of the taxation, savings and provident funds, are some of the activities we undertake. Overall, this builds their confidence level thus, ameliorating their lives.

Additionally, you have been able to achieve the commendable feet of growing Nirvanaa Chocolates at 100% per month despite the lockdown. What are the strategies you initiated to ensure this amid a pandemic?

We did a lot of on-foot marketing, in-store promotions and sampling, whilst adhering to the restrictions and implementing sanitation. Promotions were taking place online as well. We also took a leaflet from Red Bull's launch campaign in London. The team came up with some ideas, some outrageous, some very creative, and a few clicked well. Moreover, we came up with a 6-hour customized hamper delivery in Bombay that blew up on Mother’s Day, amidst the lockdown. We now continue to offer 6-hour delivery and express melt free delivery. All these ideas were the team’s brainchild, so their hard work and perseverance need to be commended.

How do you believe the pandemic has altered the face of the FMCG Sector?

Due to the pandemic, the FMCG sector has experienced a major fall, and the overall sales took a hit. This is a crisis like no other, and there is substantial uncertainty about its impact on the market and livelihoods. There is a dire need to bring technological changes and innovation in the FMCG sector to ensure the smooth functioning of the market. Proper introspection and research are the keys to sustaining in this time.

If we are to specifically talk about your consumers in Mumbai, has there been a change in their purchasing pattern owing to the lockdown?

We started the business midst the lockdown so if I’m to speak generally, there has been a lot of resistance in the buying patterns of the customers.

Since you offer your products at a variety of locations in India, do you use a different marketing strategy for each region? If so, what’s your strategy to lure customers in Mumbai? 

There was never a fixed strategy during the pandemic. It was an ongoing process where we failed a few times and then succeeded. I’ve always believed —you just need to be successful once, it doesn’t matter how many times you fail — so we kept trying every possible trick in the book. Going back, I have done my Masters in Marketing but there is no knowledge or education about growing a company in the pandemic, it just has to be on the go.

If you were to share your wisdom with fellow businessmen in the FMCG sector on how to ensure success in these difficult times, what would it be?

What I have learnt is that going back to the basics and undertaking ground-level research is important. An unfiltered feedback system from the customers and distributor should be taken into consideration, which should immediately be worked on for the growth of the company. Additionally, start embracing technology. Bringing innovative changes is the key to building a long-term business. Apart from this, create your logistic systems and manage them wisely. Lastly, buckle up and embrace the challenge.

Lastly, on a lighter note, what are your personal favourites from the products you offer?

In the same way, a father doesn’t discriminate between his children there are no personal favourites when it comes to my products. The entire range curated, was intensely researched. We have put a lot of thought into what products to bring in which our customers can enjoy.

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