In the last post, I talked about our learnings from looking at others and had ended the piece with musings of how we have chosen a long-term strategy – for the sustainability of our vision and of our company. How we have elected the harder, slower, path, where every team member is raised, to become capable of decision making, to lead and to know why we are doing something.
To add to that, I can see that we need a humble, hungry and smart team, learn when to say no and say it and, most importantly, learn to open markets for farmers. Read on to know why.
Yes, Zizira needs to make a profit and we need to benefit farmers. We seem to have lots of great insights and plans. The question is - How do we translate these into action that will help us reach our goal of opening markets for the farmers of Northeast India? Here are some ideas on how.
We can build our network of farmers in a streamlined way:We need to streamline this system so we are not spending too much time to source. For example, we can get farmers to deliver the produce to us. Perhaps get them to add value and deliver. We need to learn to streamline and systematize and simplify.
Focus on creating products and selling.To me this means finding special and available crops, adding value, branding and marketing. It is high value low volume, but with a twist. It is Zara with a twist.
Read my earlier post to know about Zara. In gist – this is what Zara does: watch the fashion trend and very quickly come to the market with clothing that will have a demand. They have a highly responsible supply chain that places the company at the forefront of fast fashions.
At Zizira we need to create the food lab on the lines of Zara – clued in to what our consumers are looking for.
In the early days of Zizira, we had considered working with farmers to grow aromatic plants so we could produce and market essential oils and reach benefits to the farmers. This meant working with them to grow. But, now I feel our focus should be marketing and not the production side.
Why the change in strategy? I started to think about the need to focus and realized that organizations like the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA) or Bio-Research Development Centre (BRDC) and others, will get farmers growing lemongrass and other things. They will need help with marketing. And, we have to be really smart and make the most of our limited resources. To do this, we can leverage what others are doing. We must be smart and nimble.
We can't do everything, but if we can do work strategically, then we can make a big difference. Strategically means we open markets for crops that benefit farmers who need it the most. And, crops that benefit the most. If we create a market then all these support organizations can do their job. It is like they are all dressed up but no place to go. They are helping farmers, but what the farmers need most is a market and one that pays a good price. An insight I had:
We can’t just focus on farmers and assume we are helping them. Our core should be opening markets.
To be sustainable financially we can’t spend too much time on research/experimental growing. We do not have the luxury to do so.
Because we are using the profits from our earlier venture, Chillibreeze Solutions Pvt. Ltd. and we have to make every action count (actually, we should do this anyway).
We must resolve assumptions quickly. This means selling, but in a way that helps us learn. We can’t do things without asking ourselves “is there a better way”. All of this is a big challenge. It requires that every brain be in the game. But it requires even more. It requires that every heart be in the game too. To win against the competition, Zizira is going to require one more thing. We have to be strategic and say no to things. We need to know our strengths or build up a strength that will help us sell, make profit and grow.
Influencing farmers is going to be a long and slow process. It will come from one success seeding another. Seeing one farmer benefitting, others joining. Talk will not be enough. We have to open markets. We have to be a Humble, Hungry and Smart team. Here is a note I shared with the team:
Together we are going to grow just like the plants we harvest. You will start to understand more about the big picture of farming. This will be good for each of you, ZIZIRA and for FARMERS. This is my hope, expectation and challenge for the team.
Too soon to say if we are on the right track, but going by the energy in the team and the team interaction with farmers they are in touch with – makes me believe we could be.
By the way, I am hoping to get critical feedback on all that I am sharing here – on my ideas and strategies. Please do add as comments below.
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