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Snacky idea brings her back to campus

Renuka Phadnis
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Allen, a B.Com. graduate, selects alma mater to test her entrepreneurial skills

Brisk business:Allen D’Souza selling food packets to students on the college premises in Mangalore.– Photo: R. Eswarraj
Brisk business:Allen D’Souza selling food packets to students on the college premises in Mangalore.– Photo: R. Eswarraj

An hour before lunchtime in St. Agnes College, Allen D’Souza, an alumnus of the college, arrives at the college in an autorickshaw everyday. She quickly sets up a foldable table and loads it with sandwiches and packed ‘pulao’. In half an hour, when the girls troop out for lunch, she is greeting everyone and asking them to buy the fare. Soon, half the sandwiches have flown off the table.

A B.Com student of the same college who graduated in April this year, she spotted a business opportunity in her college. While she studied there, she realised there was no place in the vicinity offering healthy, wholesome food. The canteen had long queues for food and the nearest restaurant was in Kadri.

She approached the college principal for setting up her stall outside the college gates and the response she got was, “Why outside? You can come inside (the campus)”. That started her off. With an investment of Rs. 30,000, she started selling the snack parcels for Rs. 20 and Rs. 30.

Challenges

Two months on, her fare is selling well. But the work is challenging. People have walked away from her stall angrily asking her “What kind of sandwich is that?” Now, she has settled with a “successful” recipe. If she reaches later than 11.30 a.m., or shifts from her usual spot, the students walk by and she has to go home with some packets. She, however, donates them to a shelter for HIV patients instead of wasting it. “I have to improvise everyday,” she said and is considering introducing chicken biryani to the menu.

Deeksha, a student, said, “Sometimes, it’s tasty, but sometimes there will be a heavy dose of salt. The quantity is more than what the canteen gives and it is tastier.”

Deona, another student, said, “I can have it here and go to class.”

Allen is currently pursuing her Masters in economics from a Pune institute. Her ultimate aim is to take over the college canteen.

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