Economist Jeeva Anna George turned her gluten intolerance into a success
An economist who dabbled in market research, policy analysis and technical conference management, she didn’t switch paths out of choice but necessity. Jeeva Anna George is extremely passionate about Jeeva, a gluten free venture she set up in October 2013, to help people like herself who suffer from Celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disorder where the body treats gluten as a toxin.
“The company is named Jeeva not after me but because Jeeva in Sanskrit means eternal living soul and this meant helping others like me live with hope.”
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease four years ago when I kept falling sick. I decided to do what I always wanted to do- work for myself in a space where I knew I could make a difference.”
There are three aspects to her business.
“Jeeva Bakes is all about making gluten-free goodies crafted from flour mixes that I have put together after months of research and experiments. With Jeeva Guides, I write booklets on the gluten free lifestyle for hospitals, helping retailers stock gluten free products and also consulting on special diets. Jeeva Initiates is the continuous attempt at spreading awareness on Social Media.”
“I know what the challenges are. The trust factor is high and I also maintain a completely gluten free kitchen. I cater to people with other sorts of allergies too. So some of what I make apart from being gluten free is also eggless, lactose free and sometimes soy and nut free as well.”
Jeeva essentially makes gluten-free breads, cakes, cupcakes, cookies and other baked goodies.
“I will slowly be adding to the list with time. One can place an order via e-mail, leave a message on my Facebook business page and soon it will be possible online too on my website. My aim is to provide economical gluten free products.”
Speaking of the challenges she’s encountered along the way, Jeeva says: “There is hardly any awareness among Indians about this condition. Many doctors in India assume this to be a Western condition, so many cases go undiagnosed. Labelling is another challenge. The other huge hurdle facing many manufacturers and small businesses is the fee to get product approvals and to get it labelled ‘gluten free’. The sum is ridiculously huge and unaffordable by most of us.”
However, being the optimist that she is, looking ahead, Jeeva says: “Spreading awareness is the focus. I’m also keen on drawing up a curriculum for Hotel Management colleges and I think training for hospital catering staff is very important. In the next five years, I want to see every restaurant list a gluten free option in India. It’s a challenging goal indeed, but if we don't challenge ourselves enough, we will never get there!”