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eKutir

Using ICT to link smallholder farmers to markets and service providers in rural India
Through its enterprise-based model, eKutir converts an exploitative and fragmented agricultural system into a collaborative and connected distribution model. eKutir works through a decentralized network of micro-entrepreneurs, who engage with the farmers and rural communities. This generates rural employment, sustainable income, and increased productivity. eKutir is a for-profit, mission driven enterprise that is designed as a one-stop-shop solution to extend agricultural services to the last mile. They work with over 100 micro-entrepreneurs that are the direct link to the smallholder farmers.
Each micro-entrepreneur is locally based with a network of farmers to whom they provide high quality technical support, farming inputs and continuous engagement. eKutir also secures market access and offers to buy produce from farmers. The innovation of eKutir is in designing this decentralized, risk-mitigating, and transparent infrastructure for the entrepreneurs and farmers that uses ICT as a tool for scale and replication. eKutir’s suite of 6 apps offers a range of services from seed selection recommendations to soil nutrient analysis to farming management and risk mitigation strategies.
Location: India
Sector: Agriculture
Adopter profile: Large to small agricultural businesses that want to target marginalized farmers
2009
Founded
> 100
Employees
200,000
Annual turnover (USD)
10-15%
Profit margin

How it works

The business model

eKutir uses ICT to link smallholder farmers to markets and service providers in rural India.

Key Partners, Activities and Resources

eKutir works with several partners from all sectors, including government, civil society (training and good agricultural practices, aka GAP) and private sector (agricultural inputs and buyers). Key partners are also the 106 micro-entrepreneurs that use eKutir infrastructure to link smallholders with GAP, inputs and markets.

Customer Relationships, Channels and Segments

eKutir targets marginalized smallholder farmers through 106 micro-entrepreneurs that use the eKutir infrastructure to link smallholders with GAP, inputs and markets. eKutir has four types of customers: micro entrepreneurs, smallholder farmers, input providers and product offtakers.

Cost structure

In the pre-harvest season, smallholder farmers pay 12 USD per crop per acre for advisory service (8 USD goes to eKutir) and 3 USD for the mobile apps (2 USD goes to eKutir) per year. The micro-entrepreneur that establishes the contact manages 350-500 farmers in total.

Additional revenue streams

Additionally, eKutir receives 2-3 percent of the turnover off-taker companies create in collaboration with the smallholder farmers. Input providers pay an annual 100 USD subscription fee and a sales commission.

Customer base

Currently, eKutir reaches more than 70,000 farmers and works with 106 micro-entrepreneurs.

Other features

eKutir has other initiatives linking small and marginal farmers to the market in an innovative way. One such initiative is called Veggie Kart. Another initiative, ONE Acre Venture, offers a value chain financing platform.

Impact

Social and economic benefits

Currently eKutir reaches around 70,000 marginalized farmers with major impacts on income, nutrition and sanitation of farmers.

Impact

Increased income for farmers

The main impact is increased income earnings. Farmers working with eKutir earn at least 200 USD per month by increasing yields and reducing the cultivation costs.

Impact

Improved health and sanitation

Farmers have more healthy food available, not only for sale but also for subsistence. Besides consultancy service provided to farmers also include information on improved sanitation and their influence health and agriculture outputs.

Recreate this model in Latin America

Growth opportunity

eKutir is interested in supporting others to replicate their business model in Latin America to reach small holder farmers. eKutir could assist potential adopters by providing all the technical and content information of their ICT applications and consulting services. During Meet & Multiply they want to explore what their support could look like. At a later stage they propose that interested companies could come to India for a week to see the model in action. eKutir’s ongoing support could include regular learning exchange visits advisory and consulting support and a fee for the use of their app content. Adopters’ staring costs for this business are around 100,000 USD. The major operating costs would be the staff team of around 10-15 employees, localizing app content, and building the micro-entrepreneur network. This team would identify micro-entrepreneurs, input providers and buyer companies and conduct trainings, build partnerships and networks. The start-up costs for micro-entrepreneurs are around 500 USD – 1,000 USD, depending on the population density of the targeted area.

Do you match the Adopter profile?

What we are looking for in potential partners

Adopter should be in a location with a high concentration of marginalized farmers. As the business model is based on ICT and mobile solutions, solid mobile phone connectivity and penetration is an important requirement for replication.
The micro-entrepreneurs should have basic education and good communication skills. Comprehensive knowledge on agricultural processes is not required as a 3-6 months training will qualify them to do the work.
Anyone who is working in the space of agriculture can be a potential adopter. Larger companies can adopt this model and align their profit interests with their social interests by creating employment and supporting smallholder farmers. Entrepreneurial individuals and government-led organizations could also be suitable partners.

Further documentation

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