He is arguably the most educated and well qualified subzi-waala that India may have produced. He is an IIM-A graduate and has taken to selling subzi using special carts.
His light pushcart is made of fibre, can carry 200kg and keeps vegetables fresh for six days, for it is ice cool.
It has computerised weighing machine that “guarantees a proper calculation.” Even the customers are impressed.
“Computerwaala taraaju dandi nahin mar sakta (A computerised machine is not exposed to manipulation) ,” a woman told this reporter. He has a dream – worth a lot.. that pushes him forward on a track not taken by many from that MBA school:
I have a dream to build Bihar into the vegetable hub of the country. I want vegetables grown in Bihar on dining tables everywhere — from Srinagar to Salem and from Shillong to Surat, says Kaushalendra.
The going seems to have been good so far as he has grown from 1 to 50 carts within a year. That’s quite a growth!
The private-public partnership venture, launched about a couple of months ago with assistance from Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) with just one pushcart, has now placed an order for 50 more carts, thanks to a collateral-free loan of Rs 50 lakh from Punjab National Bank. Nearly 300 farmers have associated themselves with Samriddhi. ATMA, a government undertaking, is training these farmers in matters relating to high-yield seeds and crop protection.
But he is not the only guy to have taken this route. R. Subramanian, another IIM-A grad was hired by Citibank, but left that job within 15 days because he was itching to do “something more”. Well, most in India know that something as “Subhiksha”.
“I plan to buy more (carts) to spread the business. This is just the beginning. My venture will spread in the entire country in the years to follow,” Kaushalendra said with enthusiasm so infectious that one would want to believe him.
His fascination with the vegetable trade is understandable. Born to modest vegetable farmers’ family in central Bihar’s Ahmad Nagar village (Nalanda), Kaushilendra received his education in a rural government school while assisting his family in farming. Nalanda, incidentally, is known as the “vegetable bowl” of Bihar. “Though a bright student, Kaushalendra loves working in the field,” says father Narendra Prasad. He moved to Navodaya Vidyalaya in Nawada to complete his high school.
Then, he cleared CAT to enter IIM, Ahmedabad, after passing intermediate from Patna Science College.
“I am and have been fascinated with farming since my childhood,” the IIM topper said, adding: “I have planned to develop a Bihar brand of vegetable and popularise it in the country. Bihar has a potential to feed the nation,” he said.
“The B-school product has challenged billionaire Reliance Fresh venture though small means and innovative mind. He can emerge as a vegetable tycoon in future,” remarked Ajay Kumar, an economist and CEO of a private portal, bihartimes.com.
Kaushilendra’s effort is similar to the one of the fibre rickshaw that was developed by another B-school graduate, Irfan, from Begusarai of Bihar. Like Irfan’s Samman Foundation, he, too, has floated Kaushalaya Foundation.
“A number of farmers from Nalanda have approached me to buy their products as they found our foundation’s rates reasonable. I am getting more than enough supply. But we will be in a position to buy in bulk only after our business grows.”
Initially, the family was perplexed by their boy’s decision. “Now I am receiving all the support from them, my customers and the state.”
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