Muthu Velayutham

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2005


This profile was prepared when Muthu Velayutham was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
While debates rage on how best to build the economic power of rural communities in the developing world, Muthu Velayutham quietly leads a network of community-based business ventures and financial institutions that make sustainable economic growth possible for India’s rural poor. He organizes federations of rural dry land farmers into producer companies that enable them to compete in large regional markets and to create savings and credit programs needed to sustain their growth. After one and a half decades of operation, his programs have resulted in four registered community based financial institutions employing almost 10,000 women. These community businesses market and sell medicinal plants, energy products, and traditional crop resources.

Realizing that economies cannot ultimately succeed without effectively addressing the pressing issues of health, education and infrastructure, Muthu Velayutham builds solutions for all three into his model of rural development. He helps communities fund and run schools, Common Facility Centers (CFCs), and hospitals where none have existed before. He is encouraging the environmentally responsible use of bio-gas and bio-diesel, reducing the carbon emissions of some farming villages by more than 80 percent. With his support, communities become capable stewards of their economic and social growth, building their capacity to produce and consume in concert with their natural and human resources.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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