Grannies’ Pizzas for Vishranthi Old People’s Home

Exhibited by
Sattva
Added
October 26, 2009
Medium of Communication
Face to face, posters.
Target Audience
Individuals.
Type of Charity
Public/society benefit, seniors.
Country of Origin
India.
Date of first appearance
2003.

SOFII’s view

There is something charming and endearing about the image of two active elderly ladies setting out to raise money to build and run an old people's home, then hitting on the brilliant idea of funding the whole enterprise by selling pizzas. Such an idea not only takes a lot of dough (you'd need to sell quite a few pizzas) but a great deal of vision, courage and application. It is reassuring for the rest of us, surely, to know that such selflessness and enterprise exists and is being applied to improve the lot of people when they need it most. SOFII likes this idea because it is so brave and yet is simple and easy to copy. Even the low cost pizzas provide a useful social service, plus they've created employment opportunities as well. Well done grannies!

Creator / originator

Mrs. Padma Srinivasan and Mrs. Jayalakshmi Srinivasan

Summary / objectives

Vishranthi is a home that provides care and shelter to senior citizens. It was started by two septuagenarians, Mrs Padma Srinivasan (73) and Mrs Jaylakshmi Sreenivasan (78), as a realisation of their dream to give back to their society by taking care of the elderly.

Soon after her retirement in 2003, Padma bought a plot of land in Vijayanagar, 30 kilometres from Bangalore, using rupees 1 million of her own investments. However, it was estimated that building the care home would cost rupees 10.8 million. Undaunted, Padma and Jaylakshmi came up with the innovative idea of making and selling pizzas to raise the funds.

Today, the finished home is fully functional with 12 rooms, community halls and a vocational centre. Grannies' Pizzas has become a favourite eatery for software engineers, students and families in the neighbourhood.

Background

Padma's husband died when she was aged just 22 and she was forced to take a job to support her family. Throughout the hard times, Padma received immense support from her parents, which inspired her to start a care home for the elderly as a tribute to them. Her daughter married the son of a family friend and homemaker Jaylakshmi, who also shared Padma's passion for the care home.

Around the time they joined together to start the care home, Amul, India's largest dairy products manufacturer, placed ads in national dailies asking for pizza franchisees. The two friends grabbed the opportunity and started Pizza Haven in 2003 inside Jaylakshmi's garage with an investment of Rs 5,000.

Thanks to the homemade sauces and the affordable prices (the pizzas cost 40 per cent less than standard pizza outlets), their outlet was soon flooded with children from neighbourhood schools. But due to the electricity and other infrastructure costs, they weren't making enough profits to invest in the care home. So, they decided to approach leading software companies in Bangalore to set up pizza outlets within their campuses.

Today they supply pizzas to top multinational corporations such as Satyam, HP, IBM, Symphony and Accenture. The companies take care of the infrastructure and electricity needs, which allows Padma and Jaylakshmi to funnel a larger share of the revenue towards the care home.

To cope with the growing business needs, Padma and Jaylakshmi hired over 10 women from the local area. In addition to paying the women's salaries, the duo also agreed to sponsor their children's education.

Special characteristics

The key characteristic in this initiative is innovation. Septuagenarians and Pizzas, which are associated in India with youth and the fast-moving generation, are an unlikely combination in India. While selling pizzas was a low margin business, this idea gave the friends a lot of visibility as they received coverage in most leading newspapers and media channels. And their moniker, Grannies' Pizzas had a viral impact amidst software engineers and college students. This also helped them get the attention of leading organisations that contributed generous funds.

Secondly, Padma and Jayalakshmi have constantly looked for win-win situations to achieve their objectives. For instance, when they hired the women in need from Little Sisters they were able to get dedicated employees, whilst at the same time allowing the women to earn their own money and educate their children through Grannies' Pizzas sponsorship. Similarly, their collaboration with leading companies to set up the stalls within their campuses offset the operational costs and the organisations' employees in turn got pizzas fresh from the oven.

Influence / impact

The Pizza Haven (now registered as RUCHIKARAM) works from 4 to 7.30 pm, from Monday to Friday. They sell around 150 pizzas per day and are able to contribute Rs 15,000 per month towards the care home. The first outlet of RUCHIKARAM is set to open by the end of August at ITPL, the International Technology Park In Bangalore where apart from Granny's Pizza (now patented); other snacks will also be on offer.

A registered trust has been established and incoming donations are tax exempt.

Padma and Jayalakshmi are also looking forward to complementing the revenues from Pizza Haven with activities in the home. They have set up a vocational training centre in the home, with training sessions for spoken English, tailoring and basic computer skills. Soon, the vocational training will extend to agarbathi (fragrance sticks), candle-making and catering as well. These classes will be carried out by the residents of the care home.

Costs

One of the initial challenges that RUCHIKARAM faced was the low margins due to high operational costs. They were able to overcome this problem by collaborating with IT companies, whereby they could setup a stall in the office premises and bake the pizzas using the infrastructure of the company. In return, the employees could get pizzas fresh from the oven.

Results

Padma and Jayalakshmi have been able to achieve their goal of setting up their old age home. Vishranthi boasts of bright, spacious and airy personal rooms, community halls with basic furniture and tranquil meditation rooms. Wholesome, nourishing vegetarian food is prepared by a resident cook.

Apart from the twelve rooms for senior citizens, an orphanage has also been built on the second floor with separate dormitories for girls and boys. Children from the ages of three to 15 will be taken in and cared for. There is also a community hall and a vocational training centre as part of the facilities.

Through a link with MVJ Hospital the needy from the home receive free medical treatment and surgery. Free education is given to 10 orphans until the tenth standard. Many volunteers from different companies visit the home regularly to spend time with the residents and to help with the work.

The residents of Vishranthi come from diverse backgrounds, ranging from a retired librarian of American Information Services to 82-year-old Elizabeth Gardner, a Swiss national

The two grand ladies are planning to continue with their efforts to sell pizzas. In addition to the nearly dozen IT companies that the team already serves, they have plans to extend the RUCHIKARAM service to other companies outside Bangalore. They also are planning to register their company with the trademark Grannies' Pizzas – a name that has become synonymous with their efforts.

Merits

How can two ladies, in their seventies, collect over 10 million rupees to build an old age home? It would be difficult for anyone to answer that question, particularly when the correct answer is – by selling pizzas. The case is an inspiration for anyone who believes in following their dreams.

Padma and Jayalakshmi have taken an innovative idea, have executed it brilliantly and in five years have built a care home for the elderly, costing over 10.8 million rupees. Their unique initiative of selling pizzas created visibility for them to generate and collect funds from leading funding organisations.

Other relevant information

Address of the office

Vishranthi Trust Regd. Office,
33, 6th main, 2nd cross,
Sadananda Nagar,
Bangalore - 560038
Phone: 080 6567312

E-mail: padma838@gmail.com, sarasavasudevan@gmail.com

View original image
Jaylakshmi, left and Padma, right. In the background is the splendid old people's home that the Pizza Grannies are building from the proceeds of their sales of the humble pizza.