There are multiple definitions of social enterprise. The key component of whichis the combination of financial sustainability and scalable social impact. The concept emerged as an alternative model to solving global social and environmental issues which predominantly was reserved by the non-governmental sector. In a way, it is synergy of private and non-governmental entity. The challenge of any social business is to compete on the free market, while succeeding at ever increasing social and/or environmental good. Therefore, staff of such an entity generally encompasses people with the background in business and social work/community development/non-governmental sector.
The inception of NGO Products was based on the premise of delivering food with health benefits to the average customer to prevent most common chronic diseases. After some research, the choice has fallen on coconut products. The brand name RABIAH was launched in Sept. 2013, the time when health benefits of coconut were little heard of, coconut value additions were scarce and the market for coconut products in North India was underdeveloped. NGO Products started working with farmer's societies from day one. Incidentally, Nitin Goyal, founder of NGO Products, found a Delhi distribution company that dealt directly with Kerala farmers. It started engaging with various farmers’ groups, connecting them to the market, launching new value additions, supporting their skills development, etc. The Coconut Development Board (Min. of Agriculture) became an intermediary between NGO Products and the farmers. When new societies were formed with the help of the Board, RABIAH introduced their products to the market. Indirectly, NGO Products facilitated creation of hundreds of farmer's associations in Kerala State of India. RABIAH knows the source of their products well and assures purity of their products. Currently, NGO Products are about to launch a new venture Getting India Back on Track (Sept. 2017) that will have a larger impact on the ground, focusing on reinvestment and community development. On the consumer side, RABIAH uses direct sales model and entrepreneurs-distributors, mainly women, as the main strategy of keeping the price down. RABIAH believes that healthy and nutritious food must be a universal human right, and not a privilege of the elite. It doesn’t engage with big commercial bulk buyers that do not work in line with RABIAH’s core values.
According tothe development aid agencies, i.e. the UN Human Right Council, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, ‘food system is broken and unjust’ (UNCATD). Hunger and malnutrition are linked to social and economic inaccessibility to healthy and nutritious food has a global scope; concern about rise of food prices and nutritional deficiencies are alarming. Without getting into intricacies of the problem, it is sufficed to say that pure, safe, healthy and nutritious food is either hard to find on the market (linked to unavailability) or becoming a privilege of the elite (related to inaccessibility and social injustice).
- Choosing foods that come straight from the source or claim transparent intermediary
- Buying locally produced food (closest proximity), support free trade products, handmade value additions
- Starting roof gardening. More social enterprises offer services in urban areas
- Getting involved with and learn from the farmers in your nearby area
- Demanding safe foods from the government
- Educating ourselves on the harmful use of chemicals, GMO foods, global food distribution, basic nutrition and ayurvedic knowledge, eco-agriculture and permaculture, staying connected to our roots
- Supporting social businesses and NGOs that work directly with communities
- Remembering that big name doesn’t always mean pure quality. Use your senses.
At market fairs, we often hear: If it is organic food, why is it so cheap? We hear similar feedback from other social businesses that work with framers directly and serve the average customer. We believe that organic or naturally grown food has become almost a trendy concept, whereas it is a very old way of being. Organically certified food has spiked the prices in recent years. Commercial companies, especially trading internationally, get involved in the organic food chain seeking big profits. Common farmers hardly can afford mainstream organic certifications (ex. USFDA).
RABIAH supports farmers who cannot afford to buy mainstream organic certifications, yet claim to grow eco-friendly 'responsible crops', using good agricultural practices tested by a third-party entity. We keep our operational costs low to ensure moderate prices for our products. Be vigilant. Choose wisely.
Up until1950, world lived in small sustainable communities. In late1960s, new agricultural strategy ‘Green Revolution’started in the West and spread globally to increase yields to overcome ever growing chronic food shortage. Ecologically harmful practices were introduced to increase the production. Natural and organic pesticides and fertilizers were replaced by chemical inputs, seeds genes were modified to increase yields.
Mono-cropping, agribusiness, multi-corporations, exploitation of labor, animals and environment, genetically modified organisms (GMOs)to resist pests and weed-killing spraysare all associated with the Green Revolution.
Western countries, mainly US and Canada, experienced first hand the harmful outcomes of GMOs. Chronic diseases, fatigue, cancer, phasing out of small holder farming, environmental degradation are just a few outcomes of GMOs.
Interestingly, genetic modification was introduced by Western pharmaceutical companies which retain monopoly of biotech food market up until now. It is a well-known fact that a handful of biotech corporations that produce genetically-modified food(agriculture and dairy), agro-chemicals, seeds and medicine lobbypolitics and influence the world economy. Having a strong hold in the US and Canada, Monsanto and Du Pont corporations have widely introduced their chemicals to farmers abroad, including India, promising higher yields. They have contracts with commercial food brands of “PepsiCo India, Nestle, Kellogg” (Greenpeace India) and multiple Indian food companies. Recently, Biotech-Food corporations have attempted to take advantage of the general population unawareness to introduce GM Mustard in India.
Most common GM products worldwide: Corn, Soy, Sugar, Cotton, Dairy, Canola. In India, Monsanto holds 90% of the cotton market, and lately, attempted to influence Indian government to introduce GM Mustard.
For more information, watch the documentary Seeds of Death on Youtubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6OxbpLwEjQ&t=920s
NGO Products is a social enterprise founded in Sept 2013 to work with health beneficial coconut products. The brand name RABIAH created a market, particularly in North India, for coconut products when it was underdeveloped by promoting health awareness and coconut value additions, working directly with Kerala farmers’ societies and supported by the Coconut Development Board (Min. of Agriculture).
In 2017, Nitin Goyal, the founder of NGO Products, came in partnership with Tatyana Sinetskaya, peacebuilding and international community development specialist, to launch a new venture Getting India Back on Track. New social enterprise will follow the steps of NGO Products, yet will increase its impact on the ground and scale up its impact on the average customer.
Getting India Back on Track will deliver a greater variety of safe, pure, eco-friendly foods, value additions, as well as handicrafts and cosmetics. It is committed to identify and support the farmers who are willing to produce chemical free food and connect them to the market. It is focused more on reinvestment to farmers’ groups and their communities, transforming agricultural practices, delivering government schemes and programmes. Long-term community development projects are the main objective of the new venture, first of which is promotion of farmers’ producer organizations (FPOs), in line with recommendations from the international community and support from the Indian central government.
Getting India Back on Track is more than a business model. It is the vision for a nationwide movement that brings together catalysts to challenge rural and urban most pressing issues.
We strongly believe that if each of us makes at least a small contribution towards betterment of this planet, together we can transform our societies and repair our environments. We can start from small steps, for example, educating ourselves about an issue that troubles us the most and seeing how we can counteract it.
We cannot change the world without changing ourselves first. There is so much can be done at the personal level: committing to stop using plastic when avoidable; reducing water usage, household energy and generic consumption; starting a roof garden; being conscious about active healthy lifestyle and food choices; switching from outsourced goods to locally produced; recycling and reusing disposables; choosing renewable sources of energy.
Supporting organizations that work for good cause is an important way to contribute. Whether it is financial support, energetic or verbal, it all builds up a momentum for transformation to take place.