This US-based Entrepreneur is Using Technology To Revolutionize Farming In India
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“I've long aspired to be an entrepreneur, but I've come to understand the pitfalls of society's "hero worship" of entrepreneurs since the best entrepreneurs are instruments that complement all the music in a symphony,” says Elliot Rosenberg, Vice President, Business Development at Awaaz.De.
Set up in 2012, Awaaz.De addresses the need for effective communications with organizations' hard-to-reach customers, beneficiaries and staff.
The Ahmedabad based mobile solutions company helps organizations which struggle to share important information and feedback from non-smartphone users without internet access or users who speak different languages. It allows organizations to reach anyone on any phone in any language.
Originally from Los Angeles, California, USA, Rosenberg earned his B.S. in Commerce from the University Of Virginia (USA). He settled in India after backpacking for 15 months across 17 countries in Asia to better understand poverty and businesses addressing the problems of the poor.
Focus On Revitalising Agriculture
Agriculture is the most important sector for the Indian Economy. India accounts for 7.68 percent of total global agricultural output. Contribution of Agriculture sector in Indian economy is much higher than world's average (6.1%). Sadly, today the agriculture sector is in a state of distress, which is severely affecting farmers and Indian economy.
Awaaz.De originated from Co-Promoter of Awaaz.De, CEO Dr. Neil Patel’s Stanford University Computer Science Ph.D. research, under the guidance of Co-Promoter and Ph.D. thesis advisor Dr. Tapan Parikh (then UC Berkeley Assistant Professor and now Cornell Tech Associate Professor), that explored how access to vital information can improve livelihoods.
Dr. Patel built prototype software for farmer-to-farmer communication in Gujarat using voice messaging over 2G networks. After graduating from Stanford in 2011, he transformed that technology into a platform with more robust functionality that now serves the Education, Finance, and Health sectors, in addition to Agriculture. He has so far reached nearly 7 lakh end users across 23 Indian states and 12 countries.
Though Awaaz.De's current approach is grounded in the reality that less than 20% of Indians own smartphones and use mobile internet.Their technology and campaigns will increase a spectrum of different channels to impact poor and marginalized people in the developing world.
The Hidden Meaning Behind The Name
Rosenberg zeroed down the name “Awaaz.De”, which means to "give voice", because it represents the guiding principal of their work.
“Our aim is to democratize information access and offer a means for underrepresented experiences and viewpoints to be heard,” explains Rosenberg.
The Main Challenge
The initial challenge for this startup, though, has been in convincing the clients, who themselves are largely urban and educated.
“Though a series of story-based, behaviour change episodes delivered via phone calls might seem unappealing when targeting our clients themselves who are constantly inundated with rich media,” he asserts adding that these campaigns can achieve high engagement levels with poor, women microcredit borrowers.
The Real Impact & Achievements
Rosenberg is very proud of the continuing, impactful partnerships Awaaz.De has built with some of their long-standing clients including Digital Green, alongside the Ethiopian government to reach 12 lakh farmers with agricultural advice.The Television programme Galli Galli Sim Sim also partnered with Awaaz.De to deliver their popular edu-tainment content on a variety of topics.
“With more resources, we plan to focus on expanding the functionality and intuitiveness of our messaging technology for our clients while building communications campaigns that effectively and affordably improve behaviours in their customers, beneficiaries, and staff,” says Rosenberg sharing the organization’s future projects .