My name is Eli. I grew up in Manipur with lively memories of playing sports with my neighbours and relishing local fruits with them. I’m deeply passionate about promoting local strengths for creating sustainable and joyful livelihoods, which is likely to have been driven by my childhood memories of growing up in Manipur.
Where have you done your studies?
I studied at the Assam Valley School in Tezpur. For my undergraduate study, I went to the University of Warwick in the UK to pursue a degree in Accounting & Finance.
What did you do before Dweller?
I was working in an investment bank in London and Singapore, within finance and audit role. I started my finance career with a nine week summer internship, while I was in my second year at the University of Warwick. Post the internship, I was offered a full-time job as Finance Analyst. And with the help of company sponsorship, I obtained the chartered accountancy qualification (ICAEW) during my three years at the bank.
And please tell us about your Dweller?
Dweller is someone who dwells or lives in a particular place. Dweller offers tea blends that are based on indigenous fruits, herbs and spices with traditional health benefits. I believe they are naturally good, and help create new livelihood opportunities.
Besides the established tea industry, horticultural produces occupy a unique role in sustaining many local livelihoods, however the seasonality, perishable nature and lack of proper post-harvest management results in loss and unrealised potential. Value additions such as developing fruit and herbal infusions not only help in extending the shelf life, but also allows Dweller to offer natural, delightful sips to customers and create new livelihood opportunities in the community we operate in.
What are the products you produce now? What the health benefit of your tea, please elaborate?
Some of the Dweller flavours are:
Hei-mang Red Tea –Hei-mang (Rhus Chinensis) is a naturally grown, citrusy fruit of Manipur. Sipping Hei-mang brings back childhood memories of growing up in Manipur, especially of Grandma soaking (cold brew) Hei-mang overnight for refreshing sips the next day! Common names are Nutgall tree and Chinese sumac. Traditional herbal healers believe Hei-mang fruits are antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial and digestive.
Nong-mang-kha Ginger Green Tea – Nong-mang-kha (Phylogocanthus Thyrsiformis) is a naturally grown, traditional medicinal plant of Manipur. Nong-mang-kha brings back bittersweet memories of being at home and unwell. Grandma would pluck a few leaves of Nong-mang-kha and make a herbal remedy! Traditionally known for antiviral and antibacterial properties, Nong-mang-kha is Dweller’s herbal treatment for cold, cough and much more.
Other flavours include Fruity Roselle Tea, Lemongrass Ginger Tea and Garcinia Green Tea. Dweller teas are available on Amazon India and directly from their own website www.dwellerteas.com.
Do you think entrepreneur is the answer to Unemployment?
Yes, I believe entrepreneurship will tap potential and open avenues for generating new employment opportunities, which may not necessarily be in quantity but quality of jobs through training, better payand work conditions. However, it is easier said than done, we must ensure our new businessescan grow sustainably, in order to make a long term difference.
What message would you like to put across to the young minds of our northeast?
I’d say to stay focused, and think ahead about what you want to do and why. It’s good to take time out to question why we are doing what we are doing. It acts like magic because being clear about our purpose generates constant intrinsic motivation, even in challenging situations.
Was it difficult to get funding for this project? How did it happen?
I started saving as soon as I became financially independent in my early twenties. So far, Dweller is a bootstrapped business. However, I’d like to mention that I now live with my family, and they have been supportive in terms of utilising own areas for Dweller operations, which has definitely helped in reducing starting up costs. I view this as a form of big support, and I’m grateful to have had access to this.