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The ITC eChoupal Initiative

The ITC eChoupal Initiative

Description

The case starts with a  question posed by ITC’s Chairman, Deveshwar, to Sivakumar, the chief executive of ITC’s International Business Division: “What can we do to secure the competitiveness of the entire value chain, so that this business achieves its full potential?”

Deveshwar suggested exploring the digital technologies that were changing so many of the companies around them. Consequently, ITC sought to eliminate redundant activity from the soybean supply chain using Internet technologies. By setting up Internet kiosk in selected farm villages, ITC gave farmers an option that would allow them to circumvent the “mandi” (i.e., physical marketplace). The new system earned the name “eChoupal,” after the Hindi word “Choupal” meaning “gathering place.” Every evening as the farmers gathered together, they were now able to log on to ITC’s website to check weather forecasts, market prices, and exchange information with other farmers and agriscientists.

In this case, the authors highlight the use of IT in a way that provides corporate as well as social benefit and acts as an enabler for a new business. IT does not serve to automate an existing business, but instead provides a new way for business to be done, and generates the potential for entirely new applications. 

The context of the case is the fragmented and inefficient soybean supply chain in India. Seasonal uncertainties, such as overdependence on monsoon, have exacerbated the problems of this supply chain. ITC, a company whose agricultural export business is mostly comprised of selling soybean and its derivative products to international markets. 

Assignment Questions

What principles did ITC employ as it built the newly-fashioned (eChoupal enabled) supply chain (250-300 words)?

What barriers did ITC face in embarking on the eChoupal project (250-300 words)?