Nishita Vasanth and Priyashri Mani’s Kodaikanal based startup ‘Hoopoe on a hill’ is empowering an Adivasi community and preserving an age-old tradition of procuring honey organically.
Nishita and Priyashri originally hail from Bengaluru and were employees with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Their work led them to pay a visit to the Paliyan tribe in Kodaikanal, from who they purchased a lot of honey from. In fact, they had purchased so much honey, they thought of selling some to the public.
And that is how ‘Hoopoe on a hill was born.
Hoopoe – the name is a tribute to the Hoopoe bird who used to pay frequent visits to their home in Kodaikanal. The NGO duo soon donned their entrepreneur hats and once the name was finals, began selling the honey offline.
From hills to cities – how Hoopoe sells honey online
Selling the honey offline from a small town like Kodaikanal proved beneficial thanks to reduced labour and production costs.
But how would they sell the honey?
Nishita and Priyashri set up a website to sell their honey. They collected the honey from the Adivasi community, and stored it in jars and packaging they secured from a Bengaluru vendor. Thanks to the India post, logistics is also not an issue for the Hoopoe on a hill team.
“ There was greater value in building something here in Kodaikanal, than in setting up in Bengaluru.” – Priyashri
Rightfully so, setting up a business in tier 2 hill nations allowed Nishita and Priyashri to closely work with the men and women of the community.
Empowering the Paliyan tribe
“ We currently have over 6 female employees who are also learning to adapt to technology. Women here do not have access to daily wage jobs as much as men. So, we wanted to give them sustainable job opportunities and support themselves.” – Priyashri for Yourstory
Nishita and Priyashri work closely with the community without getting in the way of their honey extraction process. Once the honey is prepared, they buy it from the tribe for Rs 450-650 per kg and bottle it.
The sweet story of Hoopoe’s Honey
Here’s a beautiful backstory to the process of the delicious and organic honey you buy from Hoopoe on a hill – the story of the Paliyan tribe.
The Paliyans are an indigenous tribe in the Palani hills. The tribe foray into the Shola forests in groups for days on end to gather the honey. They camp in the forests and build their tools on the spot with vines and dried twigs.
The people offer a prayer before they skilfully climb the trees, caves, and cliffs to get the honey from the hives.
No bees were harmed:
The tribe smokes out the bees, swiftly collects only the honey chamber of the hive. The honeycombs are brought down and the honey is extracted. This is not just a recent process, the advise tribe have been trading honey for decades; often in exchange for money, or clothes, or staples.
What honey can you buy?
As pure as it gets, Hoopoe on a hill sells wild, natural honey;
- Wild Cerana honey – collected from the crevices of trees, packed with medicinal properties
- Bitter Jamun honey – bittersweet in taste, collected from trees and rock cliffs
- Eucalyptus honey – from the Eucalyptus trees
- Multi-floral honey – collected from flowers like Kurunji, Venga and Pungala
— Hoopoe on a Hill (@hoopoekodai) August 24, 2017
Going beyond honey
Seeing the growing love and demand for their honey, Nishita and Priyashri decided to venture into selling beeswax sheets to their customers too. The beeswax wraps are must-have alternatives to plastic cling-wraps. The wraps come in beautiful colours and patterns and are a perfect solution for natural and sustainable food storage.
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Helping hoopoe – Instamojo’s online setup for businesses
The ‘Hoopoe on a hill‘ founders opted for the easiest solution for their small town business when it came to collecting payments online – us! The duo integrated Instamojo’s payment API into their website and collect payments online from their customers across the country.
Small town businesses are going online to cater to their customers in the cities. Not only to sell but to spread awareness and grow their business. When Hoopoe on a hill set up a social media profile, website, and payment gateway, the orders began pouring in and now – they are empowering a whole community to become self-sufficient!
If you have a small business in a tier 2 town, you are in luck. Instamojo now offers you a premium online store you can run for just Rs 8/ day. You can collect payments online, sell your products and services and allow us to take care of the seamless payment process as well.