Published: 03rd February 2021
The sweetest Thaen: This start-up is empowering tribals in the Western Ghats by selling their raw, wild honey
Thäen, a part of former IIT Madras-incubated start-up ecoLogin, is making unadulterated honey from the Nilgiris accessible to the mainstream market
A recent Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study revealed widespread adulteration in Indian honey brands that have been around in the market for ages. According to the study, 13 of the biggest honey brands add sugar syrup and the honey found in the market isn't pure. But what if we tell you that you can find raw, unadulterated honey in the market. All you have to do it look. Among the few brands that do sell pure honey is a brand right here in Chennai. Formerly incubated at IIT Madras, this start-up — ecoLogin — began as a community travel company and it is through their various travels that its founder Sridhar Lakshmanan launched the honey brand Thäen.
It was while on tour through the tribal areas in the Nilgiris that Sridhar first got the idea. "We conducted tours to remote areas in Tamil Nadu and other places and came to know a lot of the tribals, who also helped us with the travel plans. They asked if they could do something else and that is when we decided to sell the honey they produce," says Sridhar, an MBA graduate from IIM Ahmedabad. The honey was well-received in the market, says Sridhar and that is when he decided to make it a brand. Today, Thäen sells honey, which includes honey from Kashmir, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Kerala as well, on its website.
Thäen also sources honey from other parts of India, like Kashmir | Pic: Thäen
Sridhar says the honey is not only raw and unadulterated, but it has also not been exposed to heat. "We developed a unique process that could remove moisture from the honey without heating it. When the bees make honey, they hover around the hive and that dries up the honey. We developed a technique that's quite similar to it," says Sridhar. This process retains the medicinal property of honey, says Sridhar. "It can also be done in remote areas," adds Sridhar.
Thaen's parent company ecoLogin had been incubated at IIT Madras almost eight years ago as a social enterprise. "Our company helps the tribals improve their livelihood through economic development. We wanted to take the products and services they already had and develop it for the mainstream market," says Sridhar.