From small beginnings come great things

This was the theme of the Toastmasters demo meeting we’d planned couple of months back. I loved the proverb and since the demo was in a business school, I decided to talk about 2 businesses that I knew (which) started from humble beginnings.

Though I had the stories ready, even half an hour before my session, I did not have an interesting opening! Yathiraj a colleague, saw me lost in thought and came up for a chat, I explained to him that I was hunting for a good opening for my speech and was looking for a quote or a poem which encapsulated this concept.  Ever resourceful he recited this beautiful poem ‘Little drops of water’.

I gratefully used the first 4 lines of the poem to start my speech and continued the talk with details about KFC & the Pigmy Deposit Scheme, which to my mind were great examples of small beginnings growing into great things.

Below is the gist of what I spoke:

I’ll be surprised if you have not heard of KFC! Well it was started by a retired person – Colonel Harland Sanders.

More than a good cook, colonel Sanders was an instinctive businessman who saw the possibilities for franchising his chicken restaurants at a time in his life when most people just count days!  

As the eldest a child of a widowed mother growing up in Indiana, he had to cook for his younger siblings while his mother worked to support the family, and this is how he developed his excellent cooking skills.

After trying different jobs, Sanders started operating a service station in Kentucky while simultaneously running an eatery at the same premises, feeding his fried chicken to hungry travellers. As the popularity of his fried chicken grew, he relocated to a restaurant. At forty-five years Sanders was honoured by a Governor , calling him Kentucky Colonel, in recognition of his fabulous cooking skills.  

However, in the early 1950’s, due to losses he was forced to sell his restaurant. The entrepreneur in him and the meager social security check of $99 that he received from the government, did not allow him to retire. He approached restaurant owners across the USA with his chicken recipe and asked for a nickel for every chicken dish that was sold. He was rejected on more than 1000 occasions and ridiculed about his attire of starched white shirt and white pants. Sanders persevered, and after a little over 1,000 rejections, he finally met his first Franchise, Pete Harman of South Salt Lake, Utah, who accepted the concept.  

By the early 1960’s there were over 600 franchised locations in the U.S. and Canada selling the delectable chicken.  In the year 1964, at the age of 74, he sold his business to a group of investors for $2 Million. The franchise has been sold three other times since then and continues to be a well-known successful business.

How’s that for something that started small? Read more about it here.


Pigmy Deposit Scheme is a monetary deposit scheme introduced by Syndicate Bank, India in the year 1928 was the earliest innovative micro finance option for people with limited means.

Small sums of money could be deposited into an account on daily basis, most people could only afford as small as Rs. five per day. It was in effect a recurring deposit scheme, as the money is deposited almost daily. The unique characteristic of this scheme was that a bank agent collects the money daily, from the account holder’s doorstep.

The scheme was introduced to help daily wage earners, small traders and farmers to inculcate saving habits and also as a means to fund their bigger capital requirements, such as a wedding, home buying, vehicle purchase etc. The scheme which was withdrawn in late 90s was re-launched in the year 2007, with a force of 3200 collectors. This time the collectors are armed with a hand held device, which captures and transfers details of the customer. Can you gauge the targeted collection (of 2007)? Well it was Rs. 2000 crore!

Though the Interest rates paid on these deposits are lower than the rates on regular savings deposits on the grounds that collection costs are high and that there is no alternative use for such small sums anyway, other than their remaining idle.  

 Well now technology has made this easy click here to know more.

Interesting isn’t it?


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