By the Way

By the way : IAS-turned Sabziwala

IAS-turned-SabziwalaWHEN one hears the chant ‘sabziwala’, a picture of a cart fully loaded with vegetables appears in mind along with a man who is usually dressed in kurta-pajamas. But the chant has taken on a new avatar, online. Pravesh Sharma, a 1982-batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, now resigned from IAS, has begun a start-up named ‘Sabziwala’, a retail fruits and vegetables chain that promises delivery of quality fresh produce directly sourced from farmers to consumers. He would have been a Secretary in the Government of India (he served as a director in the Prime Minister’s office at the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee) had he not resigned. At the end of his bureaucratic career he chose to change tracks. Sharma believes he supplies quality produce at prices that are a tad less than those of Safal, Mother Dairy’s market leading brand in the Delhi region. A student of history from Delhi University, Sharma brings 18 years of experience in agriculture, including as agriculture secretary of Madhya Pradesh and India representative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). His last major stint was as Managing Director for five years of the Small Farmers’ Agri-business Consortium (SFAC), which encourages farmers to set up producer companies with guidance and grants. Sabziwala began commercial trials in June in Delhi’s sub-city of Dwarka. “I wanted to create an enterprise around agriculture to demonstrate it can be a viable, inclusive, sustainable and scalable. I chose fruits and vegetables because this is the most fragmented value chain,” says Sharma. His is an asset-light model. Sabziwala owns very little. Everything—warehouses, trucks, labour—are leased or contracted. Sharma has changed the dynamic for the superannuated ‘babus’; if you have a passion for your job, don’t look for post-retirement government jobs, but learn from Sharma how to create a brand and add value to society. gfiles end logo



VOL. 11 | ISSUE 8-9 | Nov/Dec 2017

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