How This Class 12 Dropout Tripled Earnings For Tribal Women In A Village In Rajasthan

Rajesh Oza, a 12th-grade dropout, transformed his life from financial hardship to becoming the CEO of Jovaki, an Agro-Food Company valued at ₹20 crores. Starting with just ₹1,000, Oza, alongside his wife, ventured from Mumbai to Udaipur, embarking on a mission to uplift the Grasiya tribal women through agriculture. Despite no background in farming, Oza’s determination led to the creation of Jovaki, a company anticipated to grow tenfold in two years.

What to know: Oza faced scepticism and financial struggles in the early days, especially in gaining the trust of the tribal community. His patient and humble approach paid off, gradually building a strong bond with the tribes. Jovaki now serves as a livelihood source for over 1,000 tribal families in southern Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, emphasizing capacity development and various stages of fruit processing for tribal women.

Jovaki’s innovative model extends beyond employment, fostering forest and environment conservation. It engages tribal women in tree plantation and preservation, enhancing their bargaining skills and helping them sell produce at fair prices. The training also raises awareness about the importance of trees and forests.

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Oza recognized the potential of processing forest fruits like custard apples and Jamun, which were previously wasted. Jovaki now produces a variety of products from these fruits, including pulp for the B2B market and innovative items like Jamun strips and green tea. The brand Tribalveda markets these products, ensuring that nothing goes to waste by using organic waste for vermicompost and seeds for plantation.

Recognition and Support: Jovaki’s unique socio-economic development model has attracted significant recognition, including the "Winner-DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Award 2021." With support from various organizations, Jovaki aims to process massive quantities of wild fruits and vegetables, thereby providing sustainable livelihoods and preventing deforestation.

Read next: How This Kerala Man With Humble Beginnings Cooked Up A ₹2,000 Cr Idli-Dosa Breakfast Staple

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