Anup Nair

Ashoka Fellow
Kochi, Kerala, India
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Anup Nair was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Micro-enterprises in India have an inherent advantage to cater to local consumption requirements, with significantly lower transportation costs and a finger on the pulse of local needs. However, micro-entrepreneurs lack the sophisticated processes and specialized manpower that benefit large corporations. Anup believes in catalyzing the ecosystem around micro-enterprises to increase their efficiency, quality, and market share. He identifies and organizes local entrepreneurs into “management teams” that provide multiple business services to micro-enterprises. They identify the demand for niche products in local markets where producers have an advantage and find existing micro-enterprises or facilitate the creation of new ones to meet the need and enroll them into the network. At the district level, these management teams institute effective strategies for groups of micro-enterprises. They understand common challenges, ascertain common needs, build raw-material supply channels, establish quality protocols, and brand their products together. Anup has also established a robust village level distribution network of women entrepreneurs called HomeShops who serve as the designated sellers of these products to communities.

While this support network draws on the collective strength of stakeholders, each functions as an individual entrepreneur. To ensure performance, every stakeholder (e.g. management team, micro-enterprises, and village level distributors) is required to invest in the stock and is dependent on margins of sales for revenue. Over the span of two years, the Local Economic Development Society (LEDS), an organization founded by Anup, has enrolled seventy-five micro-enterprises into the network covering all the districts in the state of Kerala. His vision is to grow this model of strong micro-enterprise networks in many other parts of the country. Anup sees this model as the best way to give rural citizens the opportunity to build, strengthen, and sustain local economies.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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