2017 Cartier Award Winner, Trupti Jain, Works to Eradicate Hunger
Indian entrepreneur Trupti Jain is challenging our assumptions about solving hunger, climate change, and empowering women. She upends paradigms around customer pricing and how entrepreneurs behave.
The Cartier Awards took note. Competing with 17 other finalists for one of the prestigious international awards on April 12th, Trupti (far right) was selected by the independent global jury as the winner for Asia-Pacific!
Trupti will receive $100,000 in funding for her business, participate in a week-long executive training program at the prestigious business school, INSEAD, and receive a year of individual mentoring from the management-consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Congrats Trupti!
The Problem Trupti is Working to Solve
Globally, 260 million farmers are affected by too much or too little water, which kills their crops, negatively impacts their earning potential, and hinders their ability to feed themselves and their families.
But Trupti believes this enormous challenge can be solved cheaply and in a completely novel way.
Trupti – an engineer and Fulbright Scholar – came together with Biplab Ketan Paul – an Ashoka Fellow and an award-winning poverty alleviation technology innovator. Together, they co-founded a business and developed an environmental engineering solution for local farmers in crisis. Their simple but extremely powerful solution is called, Bhungroo.
The locally made Bhungroo hollow piping system filters rainwater and runoff, storing the water underground for later irrigation use. Using this water management system has resulted in farmers doubling their crop yields.
As if tackling world hunger is not challenging enough, Trupti is also determined to raise the incomes and standing of the poorest agricultural workers – women who are not landowners. Through her business, Naireeta Services Pvt, Ltd (NSPL) she plans to train 1,000 local farming women to become irrigation and crop consultants in their communities. These women will be the company’s distributed sales force and will advise farmers on what to plant, when to plant, and how often to water. These consultants will also be able to construct, install, and maintain Bhungroo.
Trupti Jain calls these women “Women Climate Leaders” because their services not only improve crop yields but manage water and restore soil.
This year, Trupti was selected from 1,900 women entrepreneurs from 120 countries to compete for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. Cartier chose The Way Women Work Founder, Rania Anderson, to coach Trupti. Working very intensely over a three month period, Rania guided Trupti in writing her business plan, putting together financial statements and cash flow projections, and developing a pitch to present to an international jury at the competition in Singapore.
The process was not easy. Trupti is a social entrepreneur with a hybrid business model. Part of NSPL’s revenue comes from grants and the rest from the sale of the Bhungroo irrigation on a sliding scale basis. In order to set five-year goals and projections, she and her partner, Biplap, had a lot they had to discuss and agree upon.
A Big Vision for Impact
Trupti’s idea of success extends far beyond a quantitative business profit margin. She believes that the structure of local authorities in farming areas and the current approach to water and land rights especially for women can be changed. She has a dream that every single woman in India’s agricultural sector can be a crucial contributor to her own and her nation’s welfare.
Honoring Gandhi’s vision for development, “Antyodaya,” the uplifting of all through empowerment of the least, Trupti first serves the most marginalized people. For Trupti, “Antyodaya” means training the poorest female agricultural workers by equipping them with the knowledge and tools to transform livelihoods. It also means charging farmers on a sliding scale for irrigation based on what they can afford.
Progress to Date
While Trupti chose to take a hard path to achieve her vision, her plan is working! NSPL has already constructed 242 Bhungroo, benefitting more than 9,060 poor farmers. Government programs have facilitated the installation of an additional 3,375 Bhungroo positively impacting 100,000 rural poor. NSPL is working in seven states in India and internationally in Ghana, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Vietnam and Madagascar. By 2022, the company’s goal is to address the needs of 10,000 farmers.