Harshit Sahdev’s SALT Startup ‘Himshakti’ Restores Livelihoods in Rural Uttarakhand
With an investment of INR 10,000 to reaching the valuation of upto INR 9 Crore, Harshit Sahdev’s startup, Himshakti, is taking Uttarakhand’s ancient ‘Pahadi Namak’ oftenly known as pink salt across borders to countries like France, UK, Russia, and the US.
The Kedarnath Tragedy
Harshit Sahdev had never dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur. After spending his formative years in Rishikesh and Dehradun and completing his Masters’s in Counselling Psychology, he joined Indus Quality Foundation, New Delhi. He then worked for the Ramakrishna Ashram as a ‘Value Educator.’ While working at the Ashram in 2012, he got an opportunity to serve the people of the Uttarkashi region when floods devastated the entire region. In Didsari village, people had lost their fields and houses and the only bridge that used to take them across the Bhagirathi river. Harshit efforts initiated a temporary bridge (with a motorized trolley) that finally became operational on November 20, 2014, at INR 63 lakhs.
Harshit formed a close connection with the local villagers of Didsari.
The Salty Truth
In 2018, a French national Chloe, seeing Harshit’s work on Social Media, requested him to take her to the villages he had helped. Harshit agreed, and they both visited Uttarakhand together. Soon they learned that the tiny town of Didsari was still struggling to stand.
Didsari, a village in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district, is known for its distinctive seasoned salts, where almost every household blend the salts for their usage. Every home has a traditional recipe to blend the purest lake salt with homemade spices like turmeric, chili, garlic, pepper, and other herbs found in the Himalayan hills. Once Chloe tasted Pahadi Namak (Pisyun Loon) with food, she knew she had found a way to help these villagers. They bought Pahadi Namak worth INR 10,000 to sell in France. The product was a big hit!
Today, three years later, Harshit is running a successful brand that sells salts and other spices directly to customers across India and other countries like France, UK, the USA, Russia and Vietnam.
Harshit and Chloe soon launched a startup, Himshakti, and, its first product was flavored gourmet salt from the Himalayan region. With zero competition, high international demand, and local job creation, Harshit and Chloe had found a way to help the villagers of Didsari.
According to Harshit, “The herbs found in the Himalayas are highly medicinal and help cure many disorders. We started with the Flavored Gourmet Salt as our first product considering the benefits it brings to the consumers and the villagers producing it.”
The company now offers other products like Himalayan spices, tea, Himalayan salts, Kshaar salts, flour, and cereals.
The Himshakti Mission and more
The primary objective of launching Himshakti was to help the villagers affected by the 2012 Kedarnath disaster. Harshit works closely with the farmers, helping them source seeds and essentials to grow spices in the fertile Himalayan land. He also empowers women who make healthy flavored salt to earn a livelihood.
The Himshakti mission is to provide customers with high-quality, delicious-tasting, healthy ingredients directly from the Himalayas.
Investors and mentors were equally impressed with Himshakti for its on-ground impact. Hindustan Salt Limited, a government venture, appointed Himshakti as its ‘Marketing Partner’ to promote ‘Gulabi Namak’ (Pink Salt). Since most of India’s pink salt comes from Pakistan, this collaboration is an effective way to popularise the local salt.
The venture even bagged a grant of up to Rs 25,00,000 from IIM-Kashipur and received training on entrepreneurship. This helped Harshit to venture into other products such as cereals, Chaulai, Jhangora, Red rice, Mandua flour, Turmeric, Green tea, Black tea.