In Bangladesh informal village level micro‐entrepreneur input suppliers, the primary source of inputs and advisory services for most smallholder farmers, either don’t exist or crowd out/cannibalize each other’s businesses because they operate within the same limited ranges. Where they do exist these micro‐entrepreneurs often lack access to formal supplies of quality agriculture inputs, market information, technical knowledge, business skills, and access to working capital to serve the smallholders who depend on them. As a result modern technologies, products and services cannot reach farmers, which ultimately limits their livelihood and resilience potential. Additionally, formal input supply companies do not know who their final customers are because their direct connection in their distribution chain does not extend to the last‐mile retailers and farmers. As a result, they cannot ensure product quality at the village level.
Resolving these issues would allow many smallholder farmers to increase their productivity by at least 50% and increase their income by 30% as demonstrated in our current operation areas. For this reason, CARE initiated Krishi Utsho (KU) agro input retailers’ microfranchise1 network in 2012 in rural Bangladesh as a one-stop solution to provide timely access to affordable and quality agriculture inputs and advisory services for rural smallholder farmers, particularly women. KU franchisees sell a variety of quality agricultural inputs at the village level, and provide formal private extension and advisory services to the farmers living in their communities. Through selecting and branding franchisees at the very last mile the network serves over 25,000 smallholder farmers, particularly vulnerable women in Southwestern and Northwestern Bangladesh, contributing to their increased productivity and resilience.
An impact assessment survey conducted by Krishi Utsho in 2015 on a sample of 400 farmers it served demonstrated that 58% farmers increased expenditure in goods, 56% increased their spending on education, 57% increased health spending, 54% increased their agriculture expenditure and 31% increased farmers’ income, from $171 to $225.
Meet the Team
MARUF AZAM | General Manager – Krishi Utsho Microfranchise | CARE Bangladesh
With more than 12 years of professional experience in both the non-profit and for-profit arena, Maruf has an extensive technical and business background. He is an expert in business development and hence, responsible for, the strategic planning, supply chain, management, business development, financial planning and overall leadership of Krishi Utsho. Maruf has his MBA in Marketing from the University of Dhaka.
SABRINA SAHRIN| Project Support Officer (L&D) | CARE Bangladesh
Sabrina is working as the Monitoring and Evaluation expert in the Krishi Utsho team. She is responsible in tracking the progress of the scaling-up efforts of KU and manages records as well as document and analyze evidence on the social-economic impact of KU. She studied Development Studies and Information Communication Technology which puts her in the right place to manage MIS data, track KU activities, and analyze impact.
SCOTT MERRILL | Senior Technical Advisor – Markets & Livelihoods | CARE USA
Scott is a private sector development specialist and has over ten years of experience facilitating value chain and market development programs to address issues in agriculture, food security, climate change resilience, and disaster risk reduction in Bangladesh, Uganda, Zambia, Myanmar, Lebanon, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Mongolia, among other countries. Scott brings strong systems perspective to Krishi Utsho’s transformation to a self-sustaining agro inputs franchise. Scott holds an MA in International Relations and International Economics from John Hopkins and speaks English, Bengali, and basic knowledge of French.
NURUL SIDDIQUEE | Technical Advisor – Sustainable Agriculture | CARE USA
Siddiquee has been engaged with the Krishi Utsho initiative from the very beginning and contributed to the thought process of the evolution of the model over time. He brings core agriculture and agro ecology expertise to the team and helps connect the idea between sustainable pro poor agro economic transformation and supply of quality agro inputs through standardized franchise business. In his role as Technical Advisor he primarily supports CARE’s women-focused agriculture program, Pathways, which is located in six countries located in South East Asia and Africa.