ITC e-Choupal has won the Stockholm Challenge Award 2006 in the ''economic development'' category. The 10-year old Stockholm Challenge Award recognises initiatives that leverage IT to improve living conditions and increase economic growth in all parts of the world. It focuses on social inclusion world-wide and champions ICT projects that show clear benefits to people and their communities, wide impact and sustainable business models. This year a total of 1155 entries were received from across more than 100 countries and 26 of these were short listed as finalists in the Economic Development category.
The Award was presented on May 11, 2006, at a ceremony at the Stockholm City Hall, where Nobel Prizes are awarded. This award crowns a series of global recognition for ITC e-Choupal, making it the most lauded IT-based rural transformation model - past awards have included the ICC-UNDP-IBLF World Business Award in 2004 for furthering the UN''s ''millennium development goals'' and the Development Gateway Award in 2005 for contributing to the economic development of rural communities. The model has also been adopted as a Harvard Business School case study.
"ITC e-Choupal is playing a transformational role in turning rural communities into vibrant economic organisations -- by fostering inclusive growth and enhancing their wealth creation capability," said Y C Deveshwar chairman.. Recognitions like the Stockholm Challenge Award provide us impetus to pursue our sustainable development goals with added vigour," Deveshwar added.
ITC e-Choupal, the largest internet-based intervention in rural India, empowers over 3.5 million farmers in 35,000 villages by enabling them to readily access crop-specific, customised information through vernacular websites. Even marginal farmers can access real-time information on prevailing Indian and international prices and price trends for their crop, expert knowledge on best farming practices and micro-level weather forecast.
This significantly improves the farmer''s decision-making ability, thereby helping him better align his agricultural produce to market demand, secure better quality, productivity and improved price discovery. The e-Choupal model helps aggregate demand by creating a virtual producers'' co-operative, thus facilitating access to higher quality farm inputs at lower costs for the farmer.
ITC e-Choupal also creates a two-way direct marketing channel for rural India, eliminating wasteful intermediation and multiple handling, thus significantly reducing transaction costs and improving logistical efficiency. Over the next decade, the ITC e-Choupal network aims to cover over 100,000 Indian villages, representing 1/6th of rural India, and create more than 10 million e-farmers.