International Development Enterprises, India (IDEI)

The challenge
India, with 1.2 billion inhabitants, has about 830 million people living on less than 2$ per day and 270 million on less than 1$ per day (at PPP, according to the World Bank). Despite the high growth of the Indian economy, little is changing for the poorest. The majority of India’s poor are smallholder farmers. Their productivity is low as they cannot afford appropriate inputs such as irrigation, fertilizer and seeds.

The organization
IDEI is a social enterprise committed to providing long term solutions to poverty, hunger & malnutrition. Since its inception in 1991, IDEI has developed a highly effective approach to empowering poor farmers to break out of the cycle of poverty. Farmers that make a small investment in IDEI’s low-cost micro-irrigation technologies can harvest three crops per year, instead of just one rain-fed crop during the monsoon. The extra income they earn can be used for other farming inputs that increase productivity even more, investments in livestock, children’s education and healthcare. IDEI’s technologies are manufactured and distributed by commercial players, while IDEI takes care of product development, quality control and marketing.

The program that Voxtra supports
Voxtra supports IDEI over six years to develop a supply chain for low-cost treadle pumps and conduct marketing activities to raise awareness in the state of Assam in Northeastern India. The target of the program is for 17,000 smallholder farmers to adopt treadle pump technologies, enabling the farmer families to increase their net annual cash income by $400 on average. In addition, the program stimulates the local economy by leading to increased demand for agricultural inputs and day labor to tread the pumps. The program commenced in April 2009. Voxtra’s share of the program is 100%.

Why Voxtra selected this program

  • Buying a treadle pump (at a cost of $20-25) and farm inputs (fertilizer etc for $25-75) provides the farmer with a return on investment of more than 300% in the first year
  • The socio-economic return on Voxtra’s philanthropic investment is conservatively estimated at 20x the investment (62x when the benefits are valued at PPP)
  • The program reaches the poor: Nearly all the buyers of IDEI equipment (97%) farm less than 1.5 acres of land (0.6 hectares) and 34% farm less than 0.75 acres (0.3 hectares). Assam is one of India’s poorest states, with a per capita national product of less than 60% of India’s average.
  • IDEI is an excellent organization with strong management, well-developed systems for financial management and impact monitoring, a pragmatic and delivery-oriented culture and a proven ability to grow the program into new areas. IDEI has received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the Schwab Outstanding Social Entrepreneur Award, and receives support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Progress of the program
As of June 2013, the project has sold more than 10,000 pumps to small farmers in Assam and is on track to reaching its targets. Studies show impressive impact on smallholder incomes. Please our Annual Update 2012 p. 7-8 for a more detailed discussion of the program and its results.


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