This agritech startup is helping farmers get their due price and empowering transgender communities as well
Entrepreneur Shyam Prashad Rajasekaran knew the problems faced by farmers, especially in the supply chain process, as his grandparents were into agriculture.
During the peak of COVID-19 first wave in 2020, Shyam saw how the farmers were affected by the pandemic. He went and met a few farmers in and around Coimbatore, and after speaking to them about the prices at which they offered their products and on the engagement of the middlemen, he got clarity on the problems faced by them.
Shyam, who had started up before, wanted to create an impact among farmers and consumer communities in the agritech space.
He startedalong with his long-time friend Anand Alagarsamy in July 2020. The Chennai-based agritech B2C supply chain platform helps farmers to offer fresh produce to customers at the best price by employing technology and creating sustainable ways for the growth.
“Farmers don’t get the right pricing for their produce due to the middlemen. And from a consumer angle, they prefer best quality, right pricing, and getting fresh produce as soon as possible. We at Veg Route are trying to benefit all our stakeholders,” says Shyam.
What started with 22 customers on the first day, now has over 1,500 farmers. Veg Route is now operational in over seven cities including Coimbatore, Chennai, Madurai, Tirupur, Tuticorin, Bengaluru, and Goa. It is soon planning to launch its operations in Kanyakumari, Mumbai, Nashik, Hyderabad, Virudhunagar, and Delhi (NCR).
What does it offer?
Shyam explains the main factors of his app that made farmers convinced. He says: “The three main factors were -- produces are being procured from direct farm place, no bargaining for the fresh produce, and immediate cash in hand.”
Veg Route was built to employ the unemployed, engage farmers for their betterment, build technology and drive through data to eradicate middlemen in the supply chain process, which can be of great support to all the stakeholders.
The platform collects produce directly from the farmers, stores it in its hubs and centers, does quality checks, packages, and delivers directly to shops, retailers, and homes.
Uplifting transgender community
Along with helping farmers, Veg Route is also being socially engaged. The startup has been planning to employ ‘100 Super Women’ (who belong to transgender communities) in top management positions, and the dream is slowly coming true as it has employed two people as city managers in Coimbatore and Chennai.
“Along with this, we have been in the supply chain industry to not just create jobs, but we wanted young and budding minds to build their own businesses through VR, which helps them grow financially by closely working in financial models through our franchise ventures. We are in the process of building such models,” says Shyam.
Veg Route has designed and developed a micro green kiosk at a cost of Rs 5,000 to sell freshly chopped and non-chopped exotic greens and spinach throughout the year, which it claims is an exclusive initiative by the startup. This helps transwomen setup their own businesses and share EMI of Rs 300 a month to own the shop, which also generates Rs 1,200 a day, which helps them lead a comfortable life.
Last month, the startup raised $125,000 in pre-seed funding from Mohan K and Jai Kumar, Co-founders of fintech startup Ippopay; Prabhu R, Co-founder of M2P Fintech; and UAE-based fintech Foloosi’s founder Omar Bin Brek. Veg Route competes with the likes of Ninjacart, Harabaag, Technifybiz, Fresh VnF, Ecozen, CroFarm, and several others.
Shyam and his team now aim to be operational in more than 300 cities by 2025 by engaging five lakh consumers with 2.5 lakh farmers pushing three million tonnes of fresh produce. They also want to empower and employ 100 transwomen in the coming years.
Edited by Megha Reddy