Vijay Pratap, Ekgaon Technologies, On their Flagship Products OneFin & OneFarm
A strong believer in the ideals of community and collaboration, Ekgaon seeks to use and develop free open source software confirming to open standards whenever possible.In conversation with Abhilasha Dafria for YourStory.in, Vijay Pratap Singh Aditya, CEO of Ekgaon, gives details of how his company offers sustainable solutions for rural India and thereby abridging the digital divide.
Let’s first talk about you and then your venture. What has been your background before you took up entrepreneurship?
I have done my engineering and management. I worked for two years with Prof. Anil K Gupta at IIM A on a world bank research project on use of IT for connecting rural innovators. It was then that I got inspired to use IT for providing services to rural areas.
When was Ekgaon started? And, what is the venture all about?
The venture started in 2001, and was registered as a private limited company in 2002 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Ekgaon technologies, is an IT based network integrator, offering technology platform and services to customers in under-served markets primarily rural. Our bundle of services are sectorally divided into:
Financial Services - An application suite that provides a mobile-based enterprise solution for information management system of microfinance institutions and banks for delivery of door-step financial services that include credit, savings, remittance, insurance, investment and mortgage. The services are branded as OneFin over our upcoming cloud platform
Agriculture services - Multi-application system that utilizes mobile, voice recognition, interactive voice response system (IVRS) and web technologies to distribute weather alerts, commodity market prices, soil nutrient management and crop management advise customized for farmers, which help to increase productivity and market access. The services are branded as OneFarm and are currently being offered in three languages across three states in India, Hindi, Gujarati and Tamil (Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamilnadu)
Citizen services - Web and mobile applications that give citizens a mechanism to monitor delivery of government programs and services entitled by them. This service does not have a financial model as of now.
How do you measure the impact of your venture?
The social impact calculation is not directly done by us, as we believe all our work is aimed for social and economic impact to our beneficiaries. Impact measurement should be done by beneficiaries or third party. But, we do understand the impact we are creating. For example our farm advisory service (OneFarm), helps save farmers 530 Rupees every crop season in agri-inputs which translates to around 1600 rupees per year. The service cost is 240.00 rupees for whole year. We think this is a great impact- besides impact on crop productivity (observed upto 15%) and soil health.
Do you have a revenue model? How you sustain yourself?
Yes, we undertake projects related to our areas of interest and do customised services to clients, this is a important source of revenue for us to keep our working capital needs going and strengthening our services. Since we do not have investors as of now, these are important sources of revenue for the company.
How big is your team? What is your take on hiring the right kind of talent in social sector?
45 as of now, across two offices. In social, or for that matter any sector, the right skill set of talent is not easily available, it needs to be created. Over years we have observed that quality of young professionals is going down and also professional commitment and ethics. We believe, for the work we do, self motivated individuals are better.
How did the recognition from NSIH benefit you?
NSIH is a great honour and recognition for the work we do. This helped us gain immense visibility across new sectors. The recognition also gave our team the necessary boost for continuing our struggle and to keep doing work that has impact.