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The Rajawada (Old Palace) in Indore

McKay Savage (Wikimedia Commons)

Initiative seeks tech partners in India

A Chamber team hoping to strike up partnerships in India for high-tech companies has visited the South Asian country. The visit was made as part of Innovate

UK’s ‘Global Business Innovation Programme’, which is targeting India’s ‘100 Smart Cities’ programme. This is a strategy aimed at dealing with

the huge influx of people expected to move into India’s cities during the next 30 years. The strategy was launched in 2015 by

Prime Minister Narendra Modri and explores how India intends to develop and manage these cities of the future, given the difficulties it has with the large urban areas it has to manage today, in terms of providing proper sanitation, clean water and even round the clock electricity. In recent years, the UK has developed a

strong relationship with India, and among the projects the two countries are working on is one which will improve the air quality in Bangalore, capital of Karnataka. The Innovate UK visit began with a visit

to Indore in Madhya Pradesh, recognised as India’s cleanest city. Madhya Pradesh is actively exploring smart city solutions and the visit included meeting both the local government of Indore and also representatives of Indore Smart City Development Ltd. The other city visited was Bangalore,

where delegates visited a number of innovation start-up projects, such as the Nasscom 10,000 Start-ups warehouse. Rupi Nandra, head of international

programmes at the Chamber, said that the initiative was mainly aimed at technology based companies and innovators. “Our message is that there are opportunities in India, so come and speak to us, particularly if you want to explore international growth. “We are looking to help companies who

need partners to develop their products or services to make them appropriate for delivery into the Indian market.” Among the sectors where there are

opportunities are waste-to-energy, and infrastructure and transport, all of which are well represented in the West Midlands region.

Growing business: Reena and Geeta Salhan By Philip Parkin

A Birmingham catering company is among 50 businesses hoping to benefit from an initiative launched as part of the city’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2022. The initiative is the Inclusive Commonwealth

Legacy Programme (ICLP), which will help businesses who may not be able to call upon traditional areas of support to develop and grow. One of the 50 businesses is Green Sisters, a

catering company with a difference, set up by sisters Geeta and Reena Salhan. The ‘difference’ is that Green Sisters specialises in products which are allergen free, and can therefore by safely eaten by people who suffer from a range of conditions that can be affected by diet, such as diabetes and coeliac disease. The products are also aimed at vegetarians and vegans The business was founded two years ago and

is now a team of five, including Geeta and Reena, who themselves have had to battle with dietary issues that have restricted what they can – and, more importantly, cannot – consume. Geeta said: “I was diagnosed with coeliac 15

years ago – and there are only so many times you can make do with a jacket potato.” For those who may be unaware, coeliac

disease is an autoimmune disorder and the answer to it is a gluten-free diet. All of Green Sisters products – which are

available online and include samosas, bhajis, chutney and curry sides – are handmade by Geeta and her team at a kitchen in Cheshire. The sisters’ mantra is ‘nutrition with peace of

mind and free of compromise’, and the majority of their products exclude all of the 14 allergens listed by the UK Food Standards Agency, and these include nuts, milk, eggs and cereals containing gluten. The odd man out, so to speak, is the exotic sounding chocolate samosa, which currently excludes 13 of the 14 allergens. The product is from a factory that handles soya, so may contain traces of that.

42 CHAMBERLINK April 2020 Geeta said that before the company began

trading, there was a period of research and testing the water, which included getting the recipe right for the samosas (they use protein based pastry rather than white flour, and they are baked rather than fried). The sisters also had to make sure that ‘free

from allergens’ didn’t mean ‘free from flavour’. As Geeta puts it: “Free from doesn’t have to be tasteless – and our products have bags of flavour.”

The sisters’ mantra is ‘nutrition with peace of mind and free of compromise’

To that end, some of the online products –

none of which exceed 120 calories – can be rather quirky, such as the chocolate samosas that Geeta said “take quite a bit of a leap in mindset for certain cultures”. The sisters’ products are available to anyone,

but they also provide a catering service with a separate menu that includes ‘street food’. The sisters’ future strategy involves

developing into the retailing sector and also other outlets, such as Ludlow Farmshop. At the moment, many of the retail outlets that stock Green Sisters’ products do so in frozen form, but Geeta said there were plans to encourage retailers with the capability to bake the products and keep them on their hot counters. This will also be the approach at outlets such

as railway stations, where Geeta believes there is a market for those who have a combination of dietary needs but also want to just ‘grab and go’, as she puts it. There is also a plan to bring the Cheshire-based kitchen to the Birmingham area. At that time, the sisters are hoping that being

one of the 50 ICLP businesses will help to open doors at the Commonwealth Games. Businesses interested in stocking Green

Sisters’ products, such as events and exhibition centres and other catering venues should email

Catering sisters will go for gold at Games

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