LAHORE: A US-based startup founded by a Pakistani has won a top UN award. Ricult, an award winning, MIT-based startup was presented the “Innovative Ideas and Technology on Agribusiness” award by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in a ceremony held in Milan, Italy on 10 May.
The ceremony was part of the ‘Seeds & Chips – The Global Food Innovation Summit’, a conference attended by a number of renowned figures including former-US President Barack Obama; Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights; Pietro Sebastiani, Director General Italian Development Cooperation; and Maria Manuela Lucas, Ambassador of Mozambique to Italy along with investors, entrepreneurs and experts.
Speaking on the occasion after receiving the award Usman Javaid, Founder & CEO Ricult, said: “At the moment there is a lot of dialogue taking place around food safety and security. However, few people realize the importance of empowering smallholder farmers and the role they play in the grander scheme of things.” The key to solving their problems, he said, was to equip them with the right inputs, technology and knowledge.
Over 300 startups from 80 countries spread over five continents had applied for the prestigious award. The goal of the award is to support the best solutions in the agriculture technology and foodtech sectors with the aim of improving the socio-economic circumstances and food safety and security conditions in developing countries.
Ricult is an MIT-based startup founded by a team of MIT graduates and led by Usman Javaid, Founder & CEO. Usman gained experience of working with smallholder farmers while he was with Nestle and Engro. There he observed the difficulties these farmers faced in accessing the capital they needed to run their farms and how they were exploited by informal lenders who trapped them in an unrelenting cycle of poverty.
The Ricult business model was designed specifically keeping all the bottle necks of the agricultural value chain in mind. By leveraging data analytics and propriety creditworthiness assessments, Ricult drastically increases farmers' income through a mobile platform that provides them with affordable credit, high-quality farm inputs, and access to end buyers. The pilot was launched in Kasur in June 2016; Ricult aims to launch a complete end-to-end solution by July 2017. Ricult’s motto is ‘Those Who Feed Us, Need Us’.