Rice is an important part of the staple diet of billions across Asia. It s no mere accident that the companies that deal with rice growing and milling form one of the most profitable ventures on our continent. We spoke to Karan A Chanana from Amira Foods (India) Ltd which is one of the largest rice companies in India to learn more about the humble food grain and its incredible entrepreneurial possibilities.
Please tell us more about Amira and your products?
Amira is one of the largest privately held rice companies from India. Our infrastructure includes state-of-the-art milling technologies that are certified to meet world-class quality standards. Amira exports Basmati, long grain rice and a wide variety of agro-commodities. The Group has an established presence in both private labeling trade as well as the branded space across 40 countries. In the domestic market, Amira offers an extensive portfolio of basmati and non-basmati rice brands through a nation-wide distribution network. The Amira brand has established a reputation for fair trade practices. Quality products, honest pricing and the assurance of customer satisfaction have been the guiding philosophy to grow the brand. Amira is currently following the MD’s vision to be a Global Brand.
How is Amira different from others in the same business?
The biggest differentiator of Amira are its people, or perhaps more pertinently, a system which promotes a meritocracy which has built a unique organization which identifies, nurtures, rewards and retains top talent, and yet is not person but rather process dependent.
What is the factor that will power your growth ?
dependence on externalities as much as possible through a process of vertical integration. Thus scaling up entails integrating at every step of the value chain from the farm to the fork. Moreover, the vision is to scale up not only vertically, but also horizontally, in terms of the sheer no. of countries where Amira establishes its footprints, thus building a truly world class brand. To answer in one sentence, I want the Amira brand to be present in more than 100 countries across the globe in next three years.
What was the biggest challenge for you at Amira ?
When I took reign of the Amira leadership, what I inherited was an inward looking and rigid culture. But its a moot point that the only way to survive in today’s dynamic world is to be nimble footed, which requires a robust process driven company which has capable people at the helm who have the caliber to use their discretion to make critical decisions, and not a place where the entire management is top down. Making this transition required a sustained commitment, and mobilizing our own people to make them instruments of change – a metamorphosis which Amira has experienced beautifully.
Has Amira been Feted for its industry standards ?
Our organization has won many accolades at various national & international forums. Our company received the prestigious status of ‘Global Growth Company’ from the World Economic Forum in 2008. To name a few others: ￼￼ We received “APEDA AWARD” in 2002 – 2003. We received the certificate of Merit for Exports Promotion of Basmati rice in 2004 – 2005 and many other awards.
What important tip would you will share with as aspiring entrepreneur ?
The only tip which I can give is the credo I believe in, which is ‘Everyday is the first day of the rest of your life’. Hence whatever setbacks life throws your way, take them in your stride, and keep moving ahead, because everyday presents itself with a new opportunity for you, which is just waiting to be explored. So just seize the day! And also on a more prudent note – ‘Always have a Plan B’. This does not mean that you do not have faith in your plan A, it just means that you are prepared to give the market and the environment the respect that it deserves.
What are your thoughts on Indian entrepreneurs ?
I truly believe that Indian entrepreneurs have an edge over those from other nationalities as, if you can do business in India, than you can do business anywhere! But on a technological front, it’s very critical to keep abreast of the latest technology, and quickly inculcate the same in your system before the market inevitably forces you to do so. Yourstory thanks Karan A Chanana for taking the time provide us with an insight into Amira Foods. We hope he finds entrepreneurial success and wish him good fortune in all that he grows.
About Amira Nature Foods
Founded in 1915, Amira has evolved into a leading global provider of packaged Indian specialty rice, with sales in over 40 countries today. Amira sells Basmati rice, premium long-grain rice grown only in certain regions of the Indian sub-continent, under their flagship Amira brand as well as under other third party brands. Amira sells its products primarily in emerging markets through a broad distribution network. Amira’s headquarters are in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and it also has offices in India, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.