A few months ago I came across Suvankar’s TEDtalk at XIMB in which he talked about solving some pressing problems in agriculture through tech intervention. His lucid articulation of issues faced by smallholding farmers in India and the solution required to address them indicated his deep understanding of ground realities. I invited him to be a guest on a Live Hangout.
Suvankar is the founder of eKutir. It’s India’s first certified B Corp and comprises a group of social enterprises that employ information technology for providing economically sustainable solutions to small farmers, rural communities and micro-entrepreneurs.
In this Hangout I asked him about his recent journey to Nepal, problems faced by small farmers and how eKutir is solving them, what it means to be a B Corp and finally some lessons and insights he has gained over last 7 years as a social entrepreneur.
Some tidbits from Suvankar:
When eKutir started 7 years back, we started by addressing the low hanging fruit for small holder farmers involved in subsistence agriculture in Odisha
The small farmers had one of their critical pain points as the over-application in terms of nutrients and fertilizers that they were providing to their field and this is largely based on poor economics behaviour of ‘More bigets more’
The biggest change-making proposition for farmers today, if technology has to play a critical role, is to provide them with intelligent, customizable and specifically time bound discipline support which can then be translated by the farmer himself
So, eKutir finally created the modus operandi of bringing out the informal, unorganized micro-entrepreneurs which work in millions throughout the country
Design thinking is the key process that we used for prototyping rapidly, understanding what a customer needs, understanding if the pain point is addressed, then we look at value creation, we optimize and then we iterate, iterate, iterate..
Being a For-profit company, inherently generating value for our customers and the other stakeholders that are actively involved in our ecosystem is our pivotal indicator of success
We got certified (B Corp) in June of 2016
Only for-profit companies become B Corps because inherently that is where the markets come into the role play, the economics of development works when you are able to create a market demand and supply
My responsibility is to make sure that everyone is well-versed with what being a B Corp means
We want to curate the future where smallholder farmers are able to thrive and leap frog to be more sustainable partakers in the economic society
These I believe are the 2 critical takeaways that I personally have had which is leap of faith translated to systematic and specific step-wise actions and the second one is letting go while you keep moving forward which translates to pivoting in business
Here’s the full Hangout: