Journey of an entrepreneur and sustainability advocate, Sephra Abraham

Sephra Abraham has obtained her Master of Science degree in Sustainability and Social Innovation from HEC Paris. She is the co-founder of Greend India, India’s first vegan product hamper and gifting service headquartered in Mumbai and operating pan-India. She is also a consultant with Archipel&Co – working on sustainability & strategy consulting in developing countries.

Sephra is passionate about various subjects related to sustainability. Her TEDxHECParis talk “The Bloody Truth” tackles a very pressing but rarely addressed issue related to the environmental impact of conventional menstrual products. She is actively participating in the operations of “Red is the New Green” – an organization dedicated to educating and training women about effective menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and sustainable menstrual products in India. Veganism is another topic of great importance to Sephra. It a lifestyle that aims to cause the least damage to the environment and helps protect all species of animals on the planet.

You can check out her TEDxHECParis talk “The Bloody Truth, dissecting the meaning of sustainable menstruation”!

And her startup, Greend India, a vegan product hamper service:

How did you start your company? What motivated you to start it?

I began following a vegan lifestyle in early 2016. I was in Mumbai during that time, and I often struggled to get the right kind of vegan food to prepare my meals. Everything was either too expensive or unavailable. When I first met with my current business partner, Sana, in 2017, she was inspired by me and chose to make the transition to veganism as well. Over the years, we spoke a lot about possible business ideas regarding vegan products.

Finally, in October 2019, Sana reached out to me about a business venture for vegan hampers and wanted my advice/mentorship. Instead, I found the concept amazing and thus we decided to pursue this idea together. As I was based in Paris, and she was in Mumbai, we had to define our roles very clearly. We conceptualized Greend India in October and launched it officially on December 1st, 2019.

The motivation to create this enterprise was born from a personal need. As a vegan, I always felt that there was a clear gap between the demand and supply of high quality, affordable vegan products in the Indian market. And I knew there were many others like me! So, to fulfill this need and to help many others in the same boat as I was, was the primary motivation for me. Also, the fact that my partner was super enthusiastic about this solution motivated me immensely.

Did you attend any entrepreneurial training? 

I took a few social business and entrepreneurship classes at HEC Paris. But, given the nature of Greend India’s business and its niche clientele, not much of the knowledge gained at a business school could be applied in a venture like this.

In your opinion, what does success mean?

“Success” can be following your passion, believing that you are worth it and making a career out of something that gives you happiness! At the risk of sounding too cliched, I believe that if you are willing to go out there, follow your passion and sustain yourself whilst doing it, it is synonymous with success.

What was your biggest struggle so far in your entrepreneurial journey?

Getting new customers initially was a challenge for Greend India. Building the trust of customers is not an easy task and it is definitely not something that can be achieved overnight. The company has been active for 6 months now and are still working on different ways to engage our existing customer base and gain new customers, all whilst staying true to our brand and all that we stand for.

In your opinion, what is the most difficult thing about being a woman entrepreneur?  

Not being taken seriously enough is the biggest fear I have. That being said, my business partner and I have been privileged enough to be treated with equality and fairness in the vegan community.

In your opinion, what are the habits that helped your success?

Juggling two jobs has taught me how to prioritize and balance my workflow. Being open-minded and ready to listen to the opinions of my business partner, customers as well as suppliers has helped Greend India grow significantly. Lastly, being persistent and not giving up has shaped me to a be a stronger individual.

Which woman inspires you? Why?

My mother is my biggest inspiration. She has taught me how to be empathetic, ethical, opinionated, and independent. She has been my biggest cheerleader and my support system since day 1. It is the values that she has instilled in me that has helped me become an entrepreneur. All that I am today is because of her!

Can you recommend a resource, book/podcast/movie, for our readers?

I highly recommend “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” on Netflix and the book “Zero Waste Home” by Bea Johnson. I found these two resources very useful to reduce decision fatigue, lead a more sustainable life and believe in the philosophy “less is more”.

If you would send a message to all the women on earth who are trying to build their companies, what would it be?

DO NOT GIVE UP! You have good ideas; you are worth it, and you are amazing! Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

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