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Banyan Roots*

CASE STUDY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP & STARTUPS
ET Cases - FLAME, 10 Pages
AUTHOR(S) : Manali Mundra, Student - Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur, Dr. Ganesh N Prabhu, Professor, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore

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Banyan Roots

 

“While visiting tribal villages around Udaipur (a city in Rajasthan, India) during one of my teaching campaigns, I realized that farmers are not getting paid fair enough for the hardships that they face and the amount of hard work they put in. Also, there is a need to preserve the seed diversity and traditional food and farming practices. I researched a lot about the seeds, composting and crop planning methods. Without thinking too much about the viability of my new venture, I dwelled into organic farming. My vision was to build a replicable model of community-based localization of organic food which could be grown and locally processed in southern Aravalli hills; thereby increasing biodiversity, increasing tribal farmers’ income by giving them an assured marketplace and thus implementing toxic chemical free farming.”

– Rohit Jain, Founder, Banyan Roots

Business Idea

Rohit Jain (Rohit) completed his Masters in Computer Applications from Fergusson College, Pune, in 2010 and joined an Information Technology firm at Ahmedabad. With a passionate and growing interest in sustainable farming, Rohit quit his corporate job in October 2010 and sought field experience and information on issues related to agriculture and sustainable farming. He first volunteered for the ‘Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Project’ at the Gujarat Vidhyapeeth in Ahmedabad. He then worked in a tribal area of north Gujarat on education and livelihood issues through a project in 2011.........

Exhibits

Exhibit I: Launch of Banyan Roots

Exhibit II: M/S VAT VRIKSH (Amounts in INR)

Exhibit III: Operations Flow at Banyan Roots

Exhibit IV: Banyan Roots’ Impact on the Crop Supply Chain

Exhibit V: Organic Foods in India

Teaching Note Preview

Banyan Roots


Synopsis

Banyan Roots was launched by Rohit Jain (Rohit) and his friend, Jayesh Mohta, in Udaipur in October 2011, as a jointly run organic café cum food store for organic farm produce. The café served food made only from organic farm produce and customers could also buy organic fruits, vegetables and pulses. Later, the two split and Rohit moved to a new upmarket location in Udaipur to run the organic food store alone. Initially, Rohit distributed pamphlets and showcased his products at a food exhibition in one of the major fairs in Udaipur. Next year, he organized a yoga camp and a health camp to create awareness among health conscious people, which was his target customer segment. He used personal funds and earned minor profits only through his stalls at various food festivals. Banyan Roots enables tribal organic farmers to connect with consumers – it trains farmers in organic farming, indigenous sustainable practices and value addition and then buys their healthy products at fair prices
to sell to consumers through its own stores.

Rohit’s vision is to “build a replicable model of community-based localization of organic food which could be grown and locally processed; thereby increasing biodiversity, increasing tribal farmers’ income by giving them an assured marketplace and thus implementing toxic-chemical-free farming.” To network, Rohit joined the Organic Farming Association of India. He got Sewa Mandir – an Udaipur based voluntary organization – to sponsor farmer training for improving yield through sustainable practices. Corporates also supported its outreach activities with CSR funds. It was difficult to get urban middle- and upper-class customers in Udaipur to pay premiums for organic produce. Rohit chose not to charge a premium for organic produce in the hope that higher volumes will be transacted through him. However, it started becoming difficult for Banyan Roots to make ends meet. By the fourth year of Banyan Roots’ inception, Rohit had used all his savings from his earlier job in Ahmedabad and had also borrowed about INR1.4 million from his friends and family to invest in market operations. This case let enables a discussion on the various options for the survival and growth of Banyan Roots.

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding

• Teece DJ (2010) Business Models, Business Strategy and Innovation, Long Range Planning, Vol.43, No.10, p.172-194

Pedagogical Objectives

The case covers a social cause business startup that aims to become a sustainable business. The case illustrates the difficulties of running a social enterprise where the customer is not charged a premium for a better product. The entrepreneur has to find a sustainable way to run a business that meets a compelling social objective and benefits both farmers and customers. The case illustrates dilemmas and unique tradeoffs in product and product-mix strategy. It is also useful as an assignment case.

Case Positioning and Setting

This case study can be used in:

• BBA and MBA courses in Social Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Product Innovation.
• Strategy sessions on Inclusive Business Models.

Assignment Questions

I. Identify and assess the major product-market decisions taken by the entrepreneur and suggest the possible and better alternatives to those major decisions, if any.
II............

Teaching Plan

The case can be covered adequately in about 90 mins. The case discussion can be followed by a discussion on Garv toilets which uses free usage model and a video on mPaani2. The case can be run as an early case in a Social Entrepreneurship course or in a course on Entrepreneurship with students being given the case as an assignment to submit in class...............

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Abstract

Banyan Roots was launched by Rohit Jain (Rohit) and his friend, Jayesh Mohta, in Udaipur on October 30th 2011 as a jointly run organic café cum food store for organic farm produce. The café served food made only from organic farm produce and customers could also buy organic fruits, vegetables and pulses. Later, on April 1st 2012, the two split and Rohit moved to a new upmarket location in Udaipur to run the organic food store alone. Initially, Rohit distributed pamphlets and showcased his products at a food exhibition in one of the major fairs in Udaipur. Next year, he organized a yoga camp and a health camp to create awareness among health conscious people, which was his target customer segment. He used personal funds and earned minor profits only through his stalls at various food festivals.

Banyan Roots enables tribal organic farmers to connect with consumers – it trains farmers in organic farming, indigenous sustainable practices and value addition and then buys their healthy products at fair prices to sell to consumers through its own stores. Rohit’s vision is to “build a replicable model of community-based localization of organic food which could be grown and locally processed; thereby increasing biodiversity, increasing tribal farmers’ income by giving them an assured marketplace and thus implementing toxic-chemical-free farming.” To network better, Rohit joined the Organic Farming Association of India. He got Sewa Mandir – an Udaipur based voluntary organization – to sponsor farmer training for improving yield through sustainable practices. Corporates also supported different outreach activities with CSR funds.

It was difficult to get urban middle- and upper-class customers in Udaipur to pay premiums for organic produce. Rohit chose not to charge a premium for organic produce in the hope that higher volumes will be transacted through him. However, it started becoming difficult for Banyan Roots to make ends meet. By the fourth year of its inception, Rohit had used all his savings from his earlier job in Ahmedabad and had also borrowed about INR1.4 million from his friends and family to invest in market operations. This case study enables a discussion on the various options for the survival and growth of Banyan Roots.

Pedagogical Objectives

The case covers a social cause business startup that aims to become a sustainable business. The case illustrates the difficulties of running a social enterprise where the customer is not charged a premium for a better product. The entrepreneur has to find a sustainable way to run a business that meets a compelling social objective and benefits both farmers and customers. The case illustrates dilemmas and unique tradeoffs in product and product-mix strategy. It is also useful as an assignment case.

Pedagogical Objectives

This case study can be used in:

  • BBA and MBA courses in Social Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Product Innovation
  • Strategy sessions on Inclusive Business Models

** FLAME CASE CONFERENCE 2017

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- Abstract
- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)
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