Beyond Bitcoin: some alternative marketplaces lend social empowerment
Saturday, December 28, 2013
This is the first in a series of posts by SustainAbility about business-model innovations that accelerate social and environmental impact.
More than a decade ago, the Indian conglomerate ITC created a new model for sourcing agricultural commodities from rural villages. It brought internet terminals – called e-Choupals – into farming villages, which gave local farmers access to market information they hadn’t had before. The innovation created business value for ITC by strengthening its supply chain, and provided social value by delivering benefits to farmers. But it did something else, too: it also disrupted the marketplace.
The terminals ended the information asymmetry that had long hindered rural farmers, who had little negotiating power at the government-mandated marketplace, called a mandi. The e-Choupal enabled access to market pricing information for crops, giving farmers the choice of when to sell and for how much. ITC has since placed 6,500 e-Choupals, serving more than 4 million families, in 40,000 villages.