Earlier this year, the Indian government approved a $1.3bn insurance scheme for its farmers, protecting them against crop failures as a way to help put a stop to a spate of suicides. Two hard and devastating successive years of drought have battered the country’s already struggling rural heartland, with farmer suicides in rural areas regularly making news. Since 1995, more than 300,000 farmers have killed themselves. Now, thankfully, more help is on its way through eKutir Global, a pioneer in creating sustainable, tech-driven, social Impact solutions for India’s smallholder farmers. eKutir is the country’s first brand to be certified as a B Corp, using business as a force to generate positive social and environmental impact.
eKutir Global is a part of eKutir India Social Enterprise Group, a finalist in the MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition (IIC) under the ‘new models’ category. As a first-of-its-kind human-digital platform, it has reached 70,000 farmers through a network of licensed community agents, capturing data to recommend the best solutions for smallholder farmers throughout their production cycle by connecting them to tools, finance and buyers. eKutir Global is a public benefit corporation based in the US, founded by Ashoka fellows, a MIT Sloan alum, a young social entrepreneur and a tech innovator.
This MIT Competition, falls under the ‘Initiative on the Digital Economy’ (IDE), which explores how people and businesses can work, interact, and prosper in an era of profound digital transformation. Working alone and with public and private sector partners, the IDE supports and conducts groundbreaking research in the areas of productivity and employment, big data, new digital business models, and social analytics, finding the next generation of amazing innovators lifting the economic prospects in the Second Machine Age.
These MIT IIC award candidates were selected on their focus to harness digital innovations to create a shared prosperity for people who earn middle- and base-level incomes. Finalists will receive a $25,000 award. On 27 September at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA, the IIC will host Inclusive Innovation, a day of programming, ending with the IIC Awards ceremony, where four of the Finalists will be selected to receive an additional $100,000 Grand Prize. Throughout September, the IIC will spotlight each Finalist’s work on Twitter. The competition is funded with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NASDAQ foundation, and Eric and Wendy Schmidt.
There are no silver bullets or quick fixes for the farmers in India, but design social programmes like eKutir are providing a positive lifeline to helping effectively reduce income and food insecurity among rural populations, providing a stimulus to the rural economy, empowering women and enhancing the capacity of the rural poor and the most vulnerable to invest in their future.
Photo Credit: eKutir India Social Enterprise