Meet Rinzing And Varsha, Sikkim's First FDI-Certified Businesswomen

Rinzing Choden Bhutia and Varsha Shrestha from Gangtok founded Agapi Sikkim, an organic skincare brand that became the State's first women-led business to achieve an FDI stamp.

Tanya Savkoor
New Update
agapi sikkim

Image: ANI

Two businesswomen from Sikkim have etched their names into the history books of the State, becoming the first foreign direct investment (FDI) certified women entrepreneurs. Rinzing Choden Bhutia and Varsha Shrestha's organic skincare brand Agapi won a $1 million valuation with an equity infusion from prominent investors. Their milestone comes as a remarkable achievement in the trade landscape of India's North-Eastern region. Agapi is an indigenous-forward vegan skincare brand that uses locally grown Himalayan ingredients.


Bhutia and Shrestha's vision was to build an eco-conscious business that also mobilises employment for women in the local community. "Our mission is to empower, uplift, and redefine skincare while preserving the unique heritage of Sikkim. With this funding milestone we are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring our vision to life," exclaimed Bhutia, as reported by Asian News International. 

Origin Of A Million Dollar Business

Agapi has launched several stores across West Bengal and India's northeastern States. The brand secured contracts and reputed investors including Arun Seed, Ahaana Ventures, and Alsisar Impact. Anuj Sharma, founder of Alsisar Impact, told ANI, "Agapi's journey is an inspiring testament to the power of sustainable entrepreneurship from the Himalayas led by locals, for global markets."

The brand, named after the Greek word for love, was born in 2019 when Rinzing Choden Bhutia, originally from Gangtok, quit her corporate job in Delhi and returned to Sikkim for a better life for her child. In an interview with The Better India, she said, "I was tired of living in small spaces with Delhi’s pollution all around. What I wanted for my child was to grow up in clean air, surrounded by nature and lots of space."

In 2013, Bhutia returned to Sikkim and since then, indulged in various projects and initiatives to grow a sustainable future. In 2019, Bhutia and her friend Varsha Shrestha founded Agapi Sikkim, an organic cruelty-free skincare brand that focuses on indigenous ingredients found in her homeland.

The co-founders used their vast knowledge of sustainability and science that they inherited from their ancestors and upbringing in the hills. "The plants we use have been employed for generations, passed down from one generation to the next," Bhutia told The Better India.


They also ensured it was a women-run business that provides vocational training and employment opportunities for Sikkim's women who, like Bhutia and Shrestha, have excessive wisdom about the medicinal properties in their locally-grown vegetation. Agapi provides free-of-cost training to hundreds of tribal women and inmates at rehabilitation centres. Their vision is to empower women with skills that they can use to build a sustainable and successful future of their own.

women entrepreneurs Tribal women #sikkim women financial empowerment Vegan skincare