What Works: ITC's E-Choupal and Profitable Rural Transformation
WRI's business case studies go deeper into some of the most promising projects represented in the Digital Dividend Clearinghouse, providing detailed description and analysis of each business model, the market segment in which it operates, its successes and challenges, potential replicability and scalability. If possible, the study also documents the social impact of the venture.
Digital Dividends contracts teams of MBA students, under supervision of business school faculty, to research and write our business case studies, as they are uniquely suited to provide unbiased, professional assessments of the business models at low cost. Using MBA students has the added advantage of helping to interest a generation of future business leaders in microenterprise and global development issues.
In a country where 200 million people are engaged in farming or related activities, ITC is developing its internationally competitive agricultural business by empowering, not eliminating, the independent small farmer. The company is setting up of a network of Internet-connected kiosks, known as e-Choupals, through which farmers can receive all the information, products and services they need to enhance their farming productivity and receive a fair price for their harvest. Through the choupal, ITC sources the farmer's produce directly, reducing its procurement and transaction costs. Currently ITC has set up 4300 e-Choupals covering six states and 25,000 villages. By 2010, the e-Choupal network plans to cover over 100,000 villages, representing one sixth of rural India, and create more than 10 million e-farmers.