This generation is far ahead of us when it comes to entrepreneurship but it is when we see heart mixed with good intent that our heart melts. Praket Sharma, a 17-year-old boy is one such wonder who has started a nonprofit venture to help the farmers of Maharashtra by cutting off the middlemen and is passing on all profits to them. When he is not running around changing the world, he loves to read and enjoys public speaking. We were so impressed with this young gun who manages to run this successful venture along with his studies that we decided to meet with him.
I am a class XIth student with Singhania School, Thane. Along with my studies, I am so running social venture (not for profit) FAYDAFARM.COM. My venture focuses on farmers who works really hard and yet are unable to get the right price for their vegetables produce due to at least 4 layer of middlemen in the process before it reaches to end consumer. The whole idea crossed my mind when I read in the newspaper that in Maharashtra farmers commit suicide due to financial crunch and are unable to get good value of their farm-grown vegetables. I did some research and found out that the end consumer gets vegetables at more than double the price at which farmers normally sell to commission agents in villages. It forced me to start thinking about it and one rainy day I went to a couple of places about 250 KM from Mumbai (Karjat, Alapheta, Malshej, Muncher etc) and found out that the veggie prices are much cheaper compared to what we get in Mumbai. On my visit there, I also went to farms, godowns and met more than 40 farmers and heard their situation.
When I informed them that I can get them a better price for their vegetables they happily agreed to team up with me. They also agreed to start sending vegetables to Mumbai if we give them a volume commitment. I was super excited and the same day I booked an internet domain WWW.FAYDAFARM.COM and started building a website on my own. Once my website was ready, I took help of my mother to spread the word around to all mothers and to my surprise, I got more than 100 orders in 2 days. It gave me confidence and I bought about 500 KG of vegetables (the first lot was just potatoes and onion) which was about 30% lower than Mumbai price including transportation and we sold everything immediately. All the money went to farmers and in the process, I got a lot of appreciation from mothers in my building.
This increased my confidence further and we started the increasing quantity and in our last campaign on Jan 26, 2017 we got about 1500 KG of vegetables (Potato, Tomato, Onion, Carrot, Peas, Cauliflower, Garlic etc). Everything got sold in just 2 hours with residents very patiently lining up to buy fresh vegetables and helping farmers as well.
Initially, I faced a lot of difficulty in getting farmers to give me vegetables instead of giving to middlemen because I was out there to break the racket of middle-men. Farmers were not keen to give me vegetable as I was not able to give them firm commitment to buy vegetables on daily basis but some better sense prevailed and one of the farmer’s decided to help other farmers and got them together. Now that it’s working fine, they are extremely happy and full of praise for me.
The venture is progressing well, I plan to increase the visit and also planning to do a similar activity in other large housing societies and Schools. As this venture has picked up pretty well, my parents have formed an NGO in the name of ‘Equal Growth Foundation’ and we are running this venture under the banner of Equal Growth Foundation which is an approved NGO. I am also thinking of appointing volunteers (mostly school kids between the age of 12 – 17) who can help me scaling this up and they will also learn a lot of things in the process. This will also help them understand the real pain of the farmer community.
The responses have been mixed. Most of the people have been congratulating me and want me to expand this. Some have been complaining about the lack of continuity and also sometimes we are not able to give customers everything they had ordered for as we are short of man power and are trying to put a system in place. We hope to address all these issues in the future and make Fayda Farm customer friendly.
This kid has his heart in the right place and a head on his shoulders too. With a combination like this, he is meant to go places. Let’s help him spread the good word and help our farmers too.