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Organizing Sustainable Business Ventures with India's Rural Poor

Ashoka Fellow, Tamil Nadu, India

Speech Topics:While debates rage on how best to build the economic power of rural communities in the developing world, career social worker N. Muthu Velayutham orchestrates a diverse, integrated suite of community-based sustainable 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 nearly 20 years of operation, his programs have resulted in four registered community-based businesses employing almost 10,000 women who 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, N. Muthu has taken his model one step further by building solutions for all three into his model for rural development: helping communities fund and run schools, Common Facility Centers (CFCs), and hospitals where none have existed before. With his support, communities become capable stewards of their economic and social growth, building their capacity to produce, consume and earn sustainably.

  • Rural Development
  • Community-Based Sustainable Business Ventures
This article was originally published on May 13, 2016
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