December 24, 2014 we visited Martina at Naturellement. Naturellement is a social enterprise, which Martina originally did not attend to open, as she is a teacher by trade. Martina started out by selling jams when she was not teaching, but eventually her success lead her to open a café. Martina continues to be inspired by the ladies who make their livelihoods through the café. (Check out Martina’s full story and food products at http://www.naturellement.in/)
Martina explained to us her strategy for a happy work place for all the women involved. Martina welcomes women to work at her restaurant from any background. In India, there is a very prominent caste system and often people from different castes will refuse to interact with each other. Martina has created a workplace environment that fosters positive interactions between these women despite their differences. Martina promotes group interactions through movie nights, team meetings and other fun activities. Martina also fosters healthy habits in her employees through jump rope workouts during breaks and by teaching about alternatives, such as swapping brown rice for white rice.
Martina also talked about the some challenges she faces working with so many women from different backgrounds. She shared with us that just recently several of her employees had been making fun of another employee and despite many conversations about bullying it did not stop. In order to maintain the ideals of a positive working environment, Martina was forced to talk about firing employees until the bullying stopped. Although it might seem harsh, so many women in the local villages are trying to find employment who would be willing to maintain delicate balance of a positive working environment. Martina, being the kind-hearted women she is, informed us that before firing anybody, she would first find them another job with a local business. I was inspired by Martina and her dedication to helping the women of India, while also demanding positive attitudes and respect from her employees. I have worked for several companies in the past and always appreciate a boss who demands respect and unity between all employees in order to make work a positive experience.
In addition to learning about the great job Martina is doing with her employees by facilitating a healthy and positive working environment, we also experienced the delicious food at Naturellement. The cheesy vegetable lasagna and salad was ranked by many of the AUP students as one of the best meals we have had so far in India!