There is a saying that anything is possible if there is will. A living example of this is Hema Debbarma of Tripura who has started on a journey to become an entrepreneur. Hema comes from one of the 19 tribes of the state who are only now waking up to trade and business as a viable career option.
Hema has unveiled a company that produces bottled water, the first such attempt by a member of the indigenous communities of the state. Her brand is called “Twimuk” which in the local Kokborok language refers to the fresh underground water that gets collected whenever soil is dug up. Today Hema produces 3,000 bottled water per hour and supplies it to customers around the state. She says that clean drinking water has always been a issue iin a region as underground water contains huge quantities of iron. With Twimuk, she has attempted to add more minerals to make it healthy for the consumers. Hema adds that becoming an entrepreneur is a dream come true for her but this dream was achieved suddenly rather than through years of planning.
Like many of us, Hema first decided to settle down in a cozy job after completing her Bachelors in Hotel Management from the University of Delhi. She started working at Hilton Hotel in Dubai where she lived for five years from 2007-2011. After that she joined the Tourism Department of Tripura and worked there from 2011 to 2014. “But, there was always a nagging feeling in my heart that I needed to do something more with my life,” Hema says. In order to explore other avenues in life, she left her job and went to Rajasthan to pursue a masters in Business Administration. While studying at the Rajasthan Technical University, she got the opportunity to learn about the functioning of Pepsi co plant in the state. From thereon, she got the idea of setting up her own plant for bottled water.
There is an interesting story behind how the name “Twimuk” came about. Hema knew from the beginning that she wanted a Kokborok name for her brand. At the same time she was unable to think of one that would be catchy, That is when she connected with a teacher of hers from whom she draws a lot of inspiration. She asked him to suggest names for her brand and selected this one from the list sent to her.
Hema employs mostly women in her company, hoping that it will improve their skills and income. According to her, women are very consistent with her performance and are more likely to keep the premises clean and tidy. Hema is a hands-on worker who oversees every aspect of the manufacture and bottling of water. She says that it is important for young people to become entrepreneurs instead of only relying on jobs.
This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.