Mangina Srinivas Rao, MBM 1987

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.