Background

Choices Prosperity Solutions India Private Limited (Desta) started out as a social enterprise in late 2010 by Nishant Banore from Mumbai and Ronald and Marlys Boehm from the USA.   The goal was to improve the livelihoods of farmers in rural India by providing them with information, innovation and technology that will help them improve their farming income.

Over the last 4 years, DESTA has worked extensively with farmers and farming related stakeholders in rural Maharashtra. Desta has designed, manufactured and marketed innovative products (water wheel), setup an extensive distribution system to supply bio-based products under private label besides third-party agricultural products to agri-stores around Maharashtra and run an agriculture extension program (Desta Rural Marketing Service) that links large corporations with farmers.

The Problem

In all the above three business models, Desta ran into a set of problems that any company marketing its services to rural communities face. How to setup an efficient sales channel?  How to effectively provide relevant and timely information to farmers?  How to reduce the economic cost of reaching a farmer?

So, the team devised a New Idea.

The New Idea

Since the inception, both Ron and Nishant had actively been following the developments in information and communication technologies in India.  In June 2014, after discussions with advisors from around the world, they decided that the time was right to transition the business to use web and mobile technologies in order to reach rural markets.

There were several reasons for this decision.  Primarily, three stood out…

  1. E-commerce companies like Snapdeal and Flipkart were advertising extensively, so the awareness of eCommerce was increasing.
  2. Technology had advanced to a level where the early adopters in rural communities were able to access the Internet.
  3. On the flip side, Internet penetration was not too much, giving Desta the opportunity to grab an audience in rural India.

The Transition

As the first step, they hired Mohnish Sharma in September 2014, an expert in Technology and Communications, to transition Desta’s business into an eCommerce platform.  Mohnish is currently the CEO of DestaGlobal.

The New Business Model

Desta is taking a 3-pronged approach to fulfill its mission – to improve farming income of rural India. Explained below:

DestaMart- a B2B portal linking agri-input manufacturers and suppliers with agri-store owners in rural India. Sellers of all sizes can list their products on the site.  Agri-stores (the buyers) can utilize the portal to order farming related products.  Desta will primarily supply product listing, product pricing, order management and logistics support.  Being a marketplace, Desta will not hold inventory.  The legal ownership of the products in the supply chain will reside with the original owner.

DestaTalk- an online information portal targeted towards farmers that will provide timely and relevant information, education and news on agriculture and agri-business. The goal is to empower farmers to make wise business decisions. In addition to the online portal, the content of DestaTalk will also be available to farmers via a weekly magazine printed in local language.

DestaLabs – an online portal that will host a curated list of farming related innovation. It will provide a link between innovation providers (researchers and innovators) in India and abroad and farmers in rural India.