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Sprinkles and Swirls: “Home Baker Training” in India Gives Rise to Women Entrepreneurs

In India and other parts of the Asian continent, Rich Products Corporation is showing women not just how to enhance their skills in the kitchen, but also how to leverage them into moneymaking careers.  Through its growing Home Baker Training Program, the company is helping thousands of everyday homemakers become successful entrepreneurs, running home businesses or opening up retail outlets showcasing their special bakery products.  In some cases, the women have even used their newfound talents to teach other young ladies the essentials of baking. 

Take Arati Chaudhuri, for instance.  The 44-year-old resident of Bangalore, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka, had been baking at home for probably as long as she can remember and had become quite a whiz at making chocolate, banana walnut and carrot cakes, as well as brownies, pies and quiche.  Apart from impressing family and friends with her confections, she’d occasionally take outside orders for her delicious, home-style birthday cakes and other desserts, but there was little profit in it.  Sales for her fledgling, very part-time business, called Sprinkles and Swirls, were negligible, she said.

About 10 years ago, the self-taught Arati decided she wanted to improve her finishing techniques with icing and other decorations, so she enrolled in a baking course that included demonstrations by Pankaj Jain, the veteran corporate chef from Rich Graviss Products, in Pune, India.  Pankaj informed Arati about Rich’s Home Baker Training Program, and soon she was traveling to Mumbai for a week of specialized instruction on the art of Western cake and dessert making.

Launched in Vietnam in 1995, Rich’s Home Baker Training Program helps Asia’s “home bakers” – traditionally women who maintain the household – advance their skills and join the baking trade by learning more about baking and decoration, as well as some basic aspects of running a business and tips for increased production.  In numerous cases, the experience has dramatically changed the lives of the participants and their families, lifting them from a humble existence to one of prosperity.

“The training program helps women become self-sufficient, while building additional good will for Rich’s in the market,” Pankaj explained.  “It provides women from all walks of life extra avenues for earning money, while enabling them to stay at home and take care of their families, too.

“Chefs from Rich’s culinary team lead the training, using simple methods that can be replicated economically at home,” he said.  “The instruction also is focused exclusively on the Western cake and dessert culture, helping to popularize part of our business with local consumers.”

Arati recalled she was “pleasantly surprised to be offered such wonderful training from Rich’s and impressed by what could be done with its products.  I received training on decoration and the many uses of Whip Topping.  I learned how to bake perfect sponges and how to trim, layer and decorate professional-looking cakes.”

Besides the versatility of Rich’s Whip Topping® (India’s first non-dairy whip topping), the training also introduced Arati to Cooking Rich® non-dairy cooking cream and Rich’s Nugel, a ready-to-use, decorating dessert jelly and glaze made especially for the bakery and confectionery trade.  Other products typically featured in home baker training sessions, Pankaj pointed out, include Rich’s Niagara Farms (India’s first premium-blend whip topping) and Rich’s Truffle Base, another innovation for the country.

“Rich’s superior products helped me achieve great-looking, finished products with ease,” Arati explained.  “The training,” she added, “gave me the confidence to bake professionally.”

Arati started taking more orders for her expertly decorated party cakes and desserts.  She’s been baking commercially for 10 years now.  She felt so comfortable with her art that three years ago she also became a baking instructor herself.

Today, Sprinkles and Swirls, which is still a one-woman operation, hosts weekend cookery courses for eight to 10 students at a time – mostly young, career-minded female workers eager to learn Western cake and dessert techniques.  The baking class meets inside Arati’s home, which she shares with husband Kiran, a 49-year-old chartered accountant; their 21-year-old daughter, Sunaina; and Arati’s mother, Hira.  As a successful baker and teacher, Arati today contributes much to the family’s way of life.

“A little professional help can take you a long way!” Arati exclaimed.  “Rich’s is giving home bakers a great opportunity to grow and turn their hobbies into successful business ventures.  My Rich’s training gave me a jump-start to transform my hobby into a source of earning and a successful career.  It was a wonderful starting point and has been hugely helpful in getting me to where I am now.  I’ve had truly wonderful responses from people when I bake on order, and now the same reputation is helping me run my classes successfully.”

“That’s the difference between Rich’s and other suppliers,” Pankaj explained.  “We provide not only better products, but also the skills that help our customers get ahead. We have dedicated a lot of resources, including culinary trainers, samples, tools, equipment, etc., to this program, at virtually no cost to the participants.  In the end, Rich’s enjoys success when our customers enjoy success.”

India’s Home Baker Training Program got its start in 2001 and now operates at Rich’s locations in four cities:  Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Chennai.  Approximately 500 people have taken part to date.  In Vietnam, more than 2,500 home bakers have been trained.  The program also enjoys healthy attendance in Thailand.