Genre Of Impact Grassroots Entrepreneurship & Place Branding

Places often are under-estimated. Like many of India’s villages, there lies huge untapped opportunity to create powerful social enterprises and marketable labels which have the power to tap markets and customers. This community-driven enterprise approach can generate both economic returns and civic pride.

Dongaon Local is a hyperlocal ghee brand made in Maharashtra by a community of women

Since the 1820s, generations of farmers have battled challenges like climate change, mercurial agro-policies and often uncertain prices and hence returns on investment. The produce is primarily sold to the APMC and middlemen. Hence, Dongaon, like many such places in India, doesn’t unlock the full potential of making their local produce reach accessible markets directly in interesting formats. Further, Dongaon, like many, is not a marketable label as a destination or place of produce. There is also untapped potential amongst the women communities, who could be extremely entrepreneurial if the right opportunity is presented.


A chance opportunity to taste the ghee (Sajuk Tup) made from cow milk (brought to our office by a fourth generation family member from Dongaon and who is a design-researcher herself), made us curious about the possibilities of direct-to-commerce opportunities for the village’s produce. To our mind, this could be the opportunity for building and marketing a local brand/enterprise. If done right we could help grow accessible markets for Dongaon’s local produce with effective strategy, marketing, packaging and branding. Could this also be an interesting way to initiate place-branding for Dongaon and hence as a prototype be an example of many such villages and districts in India, that often seek an identity that can be uniquely their own? This can not only unlock social enterprise/capital but also would help places like Dongaon with place-making and place-branding. All of the above can be done with the right entrepreneurial design and development team. This is venture design territory.

  • The team at NYUCT Design Labs worked on the inception of the business model and brand with ghee (Sajuk Tup) being the first product. But before moving with the branding, design and packaging, one had to look at the tenability of production for demand when it would come in and also if the local community would be enthused by this idea. The first step was to seed this thought and opportunity amongst the women / home-chefs in Dongaon (led by the designer’s mom and family) and present them the possibility of having their own brand and label of home-made ghee and other products. This was a chance for the women to turn entrepreneurial. This was the beginning of a possible social enterprise or even a cooperative. The idea was to first test the market, the value chain and initiate demand.
  • The brand design and story of Dongaon Local was conceptualised where the collective faculties of our design lab and studio including design, creatives, printing, packaging and content development were leveraged and presented along with a hyper-local narrative.
  • Branding and elements were deliberately kept as hyper-local as possible.
  • Given the early testing phase and uncertain production, it was decided that the Dongaon Local ghee (Sajuk Tup) would be available on order and demand. This also ensures that it places the least operational burden on the producers and doesn’t make them carry inventory.
  • We decided to use the conscious-living discovery platform “Xplorium” to present this hyper-local brand to conscious customers who are looking for home-made, farm-fresh ghee, sourced from local communities who made it with age-old family recipes. Currently, Dongaon Local ghee is at a testing phase while it wows customers and foodies who are more than happy to lay their hands on a farm fresh label that is not readily available. Please head to xplorium ( to book your bottle of home-made Tup (cow milk ghee).

Every venture starts with a small step and a few experiments. But it only really starts when the ideas start hitting the ground and move into a prototype stage.  Having a user-stakeholder as part of the product development team goes a long way. Ventures, including social enterprises, are often not only a function of agile strategy and design, but also putting the user communities, social science and consumer behaviour at the centre of the model. The right understanding of local culture and motivation can offer great insights into what can make or break a local business.

Given the early phase of Dongaon Local, there are many more learnings that we are still making and will make. This would be extremely useful in iterating and refining this fledgling initiative.

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