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Technological innovation helping farmers thrive better

Sejuti Das | June 28, 2016
Venkat Maroju, CEO, SourceTrace Systems, says that producing food for a growing population, minimizing environmental impact and ensuring equitable treatment of farmers is a major challenge for our generation.

Producing food for a growing population, minimizing environmental impact and ensuring equitable treatment of farmers is a major challenge for our generation. We address this global issue by bringing in the latest technologies to the first mile of agriculture. We not only consider this as a great opportunity for social impact but also as a large market opportunity for building a viable business.

Our solutions capture all the transactions with the farmers at the field level so that the visibility, traceability, timeliness and accuracy of transactions are improved. These solutions offer new market knowledge and also treat farmers fairly and equitably without any opportunities for leakages in the value chain. It contributes to 'smart' agriculture, and incentivizes farmers to embrace technology in order to increase their production.

Who are your competitors and how are you standing out in the market?

The concept we are working on is still considered to be very novel. However, there are a couple of companies in India and Africa who have similar solutions. But SourceTrace has been a pioneer in developing mobile applications, which operate in remote parts of developing countries.

We started developing transaction-capable mobile applications even before the advent of smartphones. We consider ourselves to have deep expertise and understanding in developing mobile applications and our platform 'eServices Everywhere' has been developed over the years with a lot of investment.

It offers us a very competitive advantage to develop applications rapidly. Secondly, we are the only company with true global presence in countries like USA, Asia, Africa and Central and South America. Thirdly, we have some of the who's who of the social venture world as our investors-Gray Matters Capital, Soros Economic Development Fund, Serious Change, The Schmidt Family Foundation and Sorenson Impact Fund, to name a few.

What is your marketing blueprint to becoming one of the prominent players of the industry?

We consider India / South Asia, Africa, and Central and South America as the three most important regions, holding almost 80 percent of smallholder farmers in the world. Currently, we have strong presence in India and Bangladesh and some physical presence in Costa Rica. We do not have resources in Africa, though we have the largest farmer base in Africa.

Our marketing strategy is two-fold. Initially, we focused on the established network. Having good number of customers in three continents, we are now investing heavily in online marketing and social media. We are also increasing our investments in online marketing significantly in order to see some rapid results. We believe our customers could be anywhere in the world and the best way to reach them is through online media.

What is your vision for the company?

SourceTrace is a 100 percent social enterprise organization with a strong social purpose. Investors and our management team are very committed to making agricultural sector more sustainable and empower the smallholder farmers.


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