How an IIM Topper is Transforming the Lives of Vegetable Farmers and Sellers
Kaushalendra, born in the Nalanda District and brought up in Patna, India, is an IIM gold medallist making crores selling vegetables. He had big dreams to pursue IIT and take the IT geek route westwards. But destiny had something planned for Kaushalendra, the youngest sibling in his family. When he failed to get admission to IIT, he decided to join the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, Junagadh, Gujarat. It was at this time that he got a glimpse of rural India.
After passing B-Tech in 2003, Kaushalendra got a job in a company dealing with irrigation measures but decided to quit working to pursue further education. In 2007, he passed out from IIM Ahmedabad with an MBA degree and a gold medal. Today, the social entrepreneur is a Cochran Fellow 2012 of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA ) & working group member of the National Institute of Hydrology (Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India).
Studying in Junagadh and working with an irrigation company made Kaushalendra realize – vegetable growers and street vendors do not have opportunities to band together, lobby, and advocate rights like the big retail chains. So, as soon as he returned to Patna after his Masters, he founded Kaushalya Foundation.
Kaushalya Foundation (KF) is a non-government, non-profit organization aimed at achieving socio-economic empowerment of the rural and urban poor, underprivileged as well as developing youth of the state. The organization works for the holistic development of the resource-poor in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh (UP). The NGO also provides consultancy across and outside India in the area of rural and agriculture development.
The Samriddhi Scheme
In 2008, Kaushelendra introduced the Samriddhi Scheme. Almost immediately, 1000 farmers became members. In this scheme, the foundation employees source fresh vegetables from farmers and bring them to the vendors. In addition, the registered farmers get advice and suggestions related to farming. The Samriddhi Scheme helped vegetable farmers to earn 20-25% higher income and vegetable vendors between 59-100%.
By 2010, the Samriddhi Model got accepted as National Policy NVI. It is also among the top 26 social enterprises in India recognized by Schwab Foundation. Today the Samriddhi scheme has 20,000+ registered farmers and 700 KF employees working jointly to improve the supply chain.
The Refrigerated Cart
It is essential to keep the vegetables fresh before delivery. So, in 2010 Kaushalendra designed and created AC Green Carts to sell vegetables on the roadside. The innovative vegetable pushcarts of Patna made of fibers have a holding capacity of 200 kilograms. The AC green carts help to keep the vegetables fresh for almost 5 to 6 days.
Kaushalendra also introduced selling packaged vegetables.
The Success Story
Kaushalendra first started with a small stall in front of a school earning just INR 22. Now Kaushalya Foundation has a turnaround of INR 5 crores.
The Foundation has: –
- Designed, Developed & established 5 low-cost greenhouses for local vegetable cultivation.
- Trained farmers in high-tech vegetable cultivation
- Issued ID cards to vendors and farmers
- Ensured quality seed inputs to the farmers
- Ensured financial assistance to the farmers
- Promoted four farmer producer companies
The success of KF has attracted several Agricultural Institutes, Banks, and other financial sectors to join hands. NABARD has even impaneled KF as its channel partner and assigned FPO promotion & development. The governments of Maharastra and Haryana have also consulted with KF for vegetable value chain development.
Kaushalya Foundation in Covid-19
During the Covid crisis, the Kaushalya Foundation stepped forward to help people in Patna and other affected places in Bihar. They,
1. Provided food supplies to the most vulnerable and marginalized
2. Arranged and distributed safety and hygiene materials for the most vulnerable groups
3. Held awareness drives and information sharing.
Awards and Recognition
- 2019 Kaushalya Foundation won the RSS Award
- 2016 Shortlisted in Asia Asia Livelihoods Competitions
- 2015 Finalist in UN-Habitata India Youth Fund
- 2013 Action for India Growth Prize Winner
- 2013 Finalist in Bihar Innovation Forum (BIF)
- 2012 Social Enterprise Partner of Yale School of Management for Fall 2012 SOM Global Social Entrepreneurship Course
- 2012 Amazing Indian Awards
- 2011 Villgro Award
- 2011 Sankalp Award
- 2010 Winner of Wantrapreneuers
- 2009 Social impact award by yourstory.in, Ashoka Fellowship, and Cochran Fellowship
This is the true story of Kaushalendra, who opted to improve the lives of rural farmers instead of becoming the CEO of a multinational.