Vinod Taank spent his first year at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai interning as part of his rural field exposure program. Through the program, Vinod observed the many challenges faced by rural tribal communities in India’s Jhabua district. The goal of the program was to develop an entrepreneurial solution to a major issue he saw in the communities he visited. After much research, he landed on an idea to create employment opportunities through the commercialization of a local breed of chicken, the Kadaknath "black" chicken.
Vinod and his brother Sushil Taank decided to take the idea to the next level. They began working full time to get their social enterprise off the ground, researching, pilot testing and developing the business model. In 2016, they incorporated their company, TaankBrothers Ventures Pvt.Ltd.
TaankBrothers Ventures aims to create self-sustaining employment opportunities by providing training and market linkages to farmers and rural families so they can farm Kadaknath poultry on a commercial level. Their goal is to provide an income source that will allow families to settle back into their rural communities, rather than relocating to overpopulated cities.
TaankBrothers Ventures is a participating company in Upaya’s 2018 Agribusiness Accelerator. Our team visited the company and spoke with Vinod about his vision for the company.
Q: Describe the problems tribal communities face in the Jhabua district.
“Jhabua is very backward district. [The only means of] income for the society here is agriculture... The hard workers are poor and honest people facing huge discrimination daily. Agriculture is not an easy task and does not have much benefit to families [relying on only one seasonal crop] in this highly drought-prone, rain dependent, hilly region.”
“The situation is the worst in Jhabua. A large number of the population must migrate each year… to the overcrowded city. Around [1 million] people in Jhabua and Alirajpur are suffering from this problem of unemployment and poverty.”
Q: How did you become so passionate about this issue?
“No one is working on employment creation. Rather, most of the time, temporary support is provided either by Government, NGOs, private organizations... Therefore, these people are still living in poverty. They are not well educated and don’t have any special skills to get a good job opportunity (if any)… There needs to be a permanent solution.”
“The communities are willing to work. They need an income source. They want to make their lives stable and don’t want to migrate. And we understood their need and the demand, so [we are] giving them an opportunity of work and an income source at their door step.”
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
“The very first big achievement and a kind of energy boost for us was when we provided a market for our product and [saw] the mini poultry keepers earn an initial profit and be positively impacted by this business model through rearing 100 birds at a time. We won the trust of our stakeholders the poor farmers who put their trust in us.”
Q: What has been your most important learning so far?
“First, when you want to move fast for the success of the business and for the scale and the growth of the business, we need a team of good people with passion and similar goals and ambitions. If you don’t have that team then it becomes very hard to manage the business at various ends. We cannot do everything by ourselves.
Second, availability of capital at the right time at right place is very crucial for leading a business.
Entrepreneurship is not an easy task. It’s a process of regularly facing challenges and hard work with passion, dedication and strong will power. And we are enjoying this hardship journey and have a good feeling that each day we are achieving new milestones. We are very close to touching the success story of our venture.”
TaankBrothers Ventures Pvt. Ltd. is a social enterprise focused on breeding indigenous Kadaknath "black meat" chicken with the involvement of tribal communities to produce self-sustainable employment and livelihood opportunities in the Jhabua district. They aim to eradicate poverty through rural poultry farming on a commercial scale to enhance the socioeconomic development of the region.