Yes! Four Indian students from Asian Institute of Management (AIM), Philippines answered the call of former USA President Bill Clinton through HULT prize competition to solve the burgeoning food insecurity problem within urban slums. Raj Bordia, Ravindra Rapeti, Saurabh Bathla and Shivesh Gaurav are currently pursuing their Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at AIM, Manila. The task on hand for them is immense as they push themselves to build a social venture in order to serve nutritious food to 20 million urban slum dwellers across the globe.
7 Weeks at Boston
Six regional finalists from across the globe where invited to Boston for a seven week accelerator program under the aegis of IXL Center and Hult Prize. The other finalists are McGill University ( Canada), London School of Economics (London), Hult International Business School ( San Francisco), University of Cape Town ( South Africa) and ESADE ( Spain). The program was structured and provided the team with necessary ammunition to build a social enterprise. Talks with reputed startup founders, social entrepreneurs, legal firms, innovation experts and venture capitalists pushed the teams to look at critical aspects of our social venture. Every Friday , each team presented its business model to an eminent judge panel and sought their feedback. Those seven weeks were breeding grounds of our six social enterprises, and we made new friends for life.
" We came to Boston as students, but we're leaving as social entrepreneurs" said Ravindra Rapeti.
" Solving a problem of this scale needs collaboration with many interested parties" said Saurabh Bhatla
"Living in the slum neighborhood for 26 years, our team understands the problem confronted by our fellow brothers, and we have a solution" said Shivesh Gaurav
" Poshnam is self sustainable and its business model is scalable across the globe. Our partnership with Tata group strengthens our commitment" said Raj Bordia
The passion and commitment from the team resulted in sowing the seeds for a new company called "POSHNAM", which will solve the problem of food insecurity by creating a new efficient supply chain. Poshnam will build a new value chain for off-specification agricultural fresh produce, primarily vegetables and grains (V & G), from farms to the slum dwellers. This low priced off-spec produce will be sold in urban slums through mobile carts operated by local women entrepreneurs. Poshnam will solve the affordability problem of the slum dwellers and reduce the food wastage along the existing food supply chain.
Pilot @ Hyderabad, India
Poshnam will launch in Hyderabad, India, home to 0.5 Million slum dwellers. Accordingly we partnered with regional NGO and Non-Profit Organizations to support our initiative. Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of Andhra Pradesh (ALEAP), Bhumi NGO, Spoorthi, Naandhi Foundation, Tata Group, ITC eChoupal, Gubba Cold Storage and Society of Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) are our partners in Hyderabad. Our association with these institutions helped us to run a pilot in Hyderabad during the first week of September to test our business model.
Six volunteers from Poshnam spent 5 days in the Rasoolpura Slum Area in Hyderabad to simulate the model on the ground and were surprised at how the slum population responded. Not only did Poshnam receive verbal consent from multiple sources of their willingness to join us, but also to address their nutrition problem. The survey on their food consumption habits done during that period revealed insights that were further integrated into our offerings to the slum dwellers.
Poshnam also received appreciation from reputed Indian Agriculturalist Dr. M. S. Swaminathan for the work ahead of us in serving the urban slum dwellers and millions of marginal farmers. The team will fly to NYC this 20th September to present its solution to the food insecurity problem at Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The Hult Prize, an international competition that awards $1 million to a student team of entrepreneurs for social good. The prize will be presented by former-President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York City on September 23. For more information about The Hult Prize, click here.