Tech Meets Tradition in Ancient Organics Enterprise

This Indian woman decided to leverage her tech background to bring ayurvedic practices to the wider world.

Oct 26, 2020

(nicoletta zanella / Shutterstock.com)

Ayurveda, an alternative medicine system focused on holistic health and mind-body connection, has ancient roots in India. These healing practices often revolve around medicinal plants and were passed down through the generations. And it worked, a study found that ayurvedic therapies can be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis. 

For centuries, ayurvedic practices were passed down within families, from parent  to child. But one businesswoman in India decided to bring the ancient organics used in ayurveda to the wider world, by leveraging her high-tech background.

Engineer turned entrepreneur Kalyani Gongi grew up with a foot in two very different worlds according to The Better India. Her father was an electrical engineer, and Gongi, a diligent student, was sure she’d follow in his footsteps. 

But when she was in third grade, her father purchased farmland in a rural area near Hyderabad, India. This decision changed the course of Gongi’s life. She grew up helping her father around the farm, planting seedlings as her father passed down traditional knowledge about the plants. 

“He would grow herbs like lemongrass, neem, and tulsi to distill essential oils, explaining their benefits,” Gongi told The Better India. “We would make a mixture of soapnut and shikakai [an Ayurvedic medicinal plant] and use it to wash our hair.”

Gongi went on to earn a degree in electrical engineering. She worked in the high-tech industry for almost a decade, but felt a nagging sense that her work at the family farm was unfinished.

“My father was still making different blends of essential oils to benefit and heal the body. I started thinking that there is so much to learn what each herb and plant can do. If only we could go back to our roots and the ancient wisdom of our ancestors,” she said.

Gongi started off by renting a stall in a local market and selling bottles of essential oils, which are often used in ancient healing. She branded her products with the name Ancient Living in a nod to the ancestral knowledge her father had passed down to her.  

As her products grew in popularity, Gongi decided to leverage her tech background by launching a website to sell her products. She opened a factory in 2010 which included a modern microbiology lab for quality control.

Eventually, she expanded the product line to include soaps, shampoos and conditioners, aroma therapy, and native games. According to the Ancient Living site, all its products are eco-friendly, certified organic, sustainably sourced, and embody the principles of holistic healing. Ancient Living sells a staggering 30,000 units of its products a month, shipping to countries all across the globe according to The Better India.

But the company’s positive impact goes well beyond protecting the planet. Ancient Living recently launched VIDYA, an initiative for women. The program provides job training to women, giving an economic boost to local communities.

“Women are the key agents for achieving economic, environmental, and social changes required for sustainable development in society,” Gongi told Social Story.  “As a woman, I understand how financial independence can instill a sense of pride in other women.”

In today’s uber-connected world, the positive impact of Ancient Living isn’t only felt by people living in the company’s vicinity. Gongi gifted the wider world with ayurvedic products  that may not have otherwise reached people outside of India, via the company’s website. It’s clear that when tech and tradition come together, everyone benefits.

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LAUREN MARCUS, CONTRIBUTOR
Fascinated by storytelling since childhood, Lauren is passionate about the written word. She’s a freelance writer who has covered everything from the latest developments in tech to geopolitics. When she’s not writing, Lauren is interested in genealogical research and family folklore.