Raised by Single Mom who was a Clerk in Indian Railways, Ruchit Garg is a Real-life ‘Swadesh’ Hero from USA

On his recent visit to the US as a guest speaker, Alakh Pandey – popularly known as Physics Wallah – motivated Indian students at Harvard University, Stanford University, and California University to reverse brain drain to India and be part of India’s growth story directly or indirectly. While delivering a keynote, he said, “Our country has many drawbacks; however, no country is perfect. Young Indians at home and abroad should work towards making it better.”

Ruchit Garg did 12 years ago what Physics Wallah told Indian students abroad to do now. Ruchit Garg, an ex-Microsoft program manager, quit his pursuit of American Dream, returned to the roots, and started working for the economic wellbeing of farmers in 2015. After a stint in the IT corridor of Hyderabad, he got an onsite opportunity to work at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters. After 3 years in 2011, he left the job with a fat paycheck of INR 1 Cr per annum only to dabble as an entrepreneur in America’s thriving startup space.

Ruchit Garg Harvesting Farmer Network, ex-Microsoft employee Ruchit Garg, techies returning to India from USA

PC: Ruchit Garg

He started feeling like a misfit there as his chase of American Dream lacked a noble objective for his native country. His grandfather was a farmer in Uttar Pradesh; therefore, his umbilical cord with fields and farming pulled him back home to transform the lives of smallholder farmers who belong to an underserved community though they grow crops for 80% of the planet. His compassion for farmers allied with technology for the launch of a field-to-market startup, Harvesting Farmer Network (HFN).

Dubbed as “Amul of the next generation”, Ruchit Garg’s Harvesting Farmer Network strives to increase the sales turnover of various farm produces by helping farmers get better deals directly from buyers. Precisely, he has eliminated the role of intermediaries who would take a significant chunk of farmers’ sales proceeds, and thus, helped nearly 40 lakh smallholder farmers in India since the launch of his startup.

Harvesting Farmer Network’s Kisan app is an all-in-one guide for farmers like a lighthouse on the seashore for sailors. It disseminates updated information in various regional languages about government schemes for farmers, modern farming methods, the sourcing of high-quality seeds and various raw materials, and likes. The app is a growing network of farm producers and buyers, and a platform for listing crops for sale. Ruchit Garg and his HFN team also provide scientific, financial and legal advice to farmers and those involved in farming some way or the other.

Ruchit’s agri-tech startup had a humble beginning. What he started on WhatsApp a few years ago has grown into a one-stop solution for farmers. Recently, he brought commercial banks with the ambit of his startup to help farmers seek finance at reasonable interest rates. He opines that the financial service offering is an under-penetrated market in the agricultural sector. Given that technology is yet to reach some parts of rural India, he set up more than 17000 offline kisan centers across the country, where non-tech-savvy farmers can connect with buyers and seek information, help, and/or expertise.

Like USA-returned barefoot billionaire Sridhar Vembu, Ruchit Garg believes in the virtue of giving back to society. His empathy for farmers at the grassroots level stems out of the hardships he had in his growing years after his father’s untimely demise. He was raised by a single mother who was a clerk at the Indian Railways library in Lucknow. While she could not afford to buy books for him, her job at the government library gave him unrestricted access to books and magazines. Reading case studies in Harvard Business Review magazines, which he considered a “fun pastime” back then, sowed the seeds of entrepreneurship into him.

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