Great change must come from the smallest possible unit, according to Srinivas. And for him, the smallest possible unit is the rural farmer. Srinivas has spent a lifetime empowering and uplifting rural farmers across Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. A well-respected and esteemed agricultural business and development expert, Srinivas firmly believes in inclusive economic development that creates value for both shareholders and farmers.

Srinivas’s quest began with his stay at ITC, Ltd., one of India’s top ranked organizations as head of New Initiatives of the Agri Business Division. It was there that he not only managed a portfolio of agricultural commodities, but also created initiatives that oversaw not only customer engagement but also sourcing materials from farmers, as well as the rice trading desk that led to ITC becoming the single largest exporter of rice in the world. He has handled business in excess of US$750 million.

It was also at ITC that he became a core member of the “e-choupal” project, an inclusive business model that transformed rural farmers into rural entrepreneurs, empowering them with information and their own choice of input purchase and output sale, powered through 6,000 village computer kiosks that have changed the lives of over 4 million farmers across 40,000 villages. This initiative has won various accolades, among them the United Nations Industrial Development Organization Award, the World Business Award from the International Chamber of Commerce, and the Golden Peacock Award.

Ever the visionary, Srinivas has been a firm believer in the “public good.” Inspired by the words of the late professor Gabino Mendoza, Srinivas did not only stop at uplifting rural farmers, but went on to lead ITC’s Rural Resource Development Initiatives across his native India, culminating in the SuhneraKal program, or “golden tomorrow”, which created contribution-based women’s self-help groups, micro credit groups, livestock clubs, and micro enterprises. Aside from this, he is also associated with global CGIAR institutions such as the International Rice Research Institute, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics.

Srinivas believes that change must begin from the smallest unit – the small and marginal farmer. They, along with the women, the youth and landless have to be part of any success story for equitable prosperity for any nation’s growth story.