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IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd wins top prize at the annual Responsible Business Awards for Excellence

Posted: Wednesday 6 July 11, 1.04pm GMT

A unique mobile technology campaign to improve the income, yield and quality of living of illiterate farmers in rural India has scooped the Coffey International Award as part of Business in the Community’s 2011 Awards for Excellence. The event was hosted by comedian Jack Dee and BBC broadcast presenter Mishal Hussain at London’s Royal Albert Hall yesterday.

IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd accepting the Coffey International Award

IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd accepting the Coffey International Award

Now in its 14th year, the Awards for Excellence is a prestigious annual showcase of the UK’s best responsible businesses in action. The Awards highlight the best examples of the positive impact businesses are having in the environment, amongst their employees, through the supply chains and in the local communities in which they operate.

The award winning campaign, M-Powering Farmers, is a partnership between the world’s largest farmers cooperative The Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) and India’s leading telecoms provider Bharti Airtel , to address the lack of timely agricultural information available to farmers in India.

Together they formed IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd and launched M-Powering Farmers to provide agricultural information to farmers via mobile phone using innovative voice based technology to deliver the information in the farmers in their local language including a local support line. There are currently 1 million farmers using the service with many reporting significant increases in farm productivity, resulting in the increased availability of food and higher income generation. In addition 500 rural entrepreneurs have been employed by IFFCO Kisan Sanchar as ambassadors – providing valuable supplementary income.

IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd accepted the award in front of a packed audience of over 1,000 high profile business leaders.

Peter Wilson, Chief Operating Officer, Coffey International Limited, Member of Business in the Community International Team and Chairman of International Award judging panel said:

IFFCO’s mobile phone based initiative to improve income, yield and the quality of living of poor & illiterate farmers in rural India is truly inspirational, clearly achieving benefits for society, business and for the partners involved. The business case for collaboration between Bharti Airtel and the Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) is compelling. The well monitored programme, which delivers so effectively for the farming community, demonstrates how an initiative can achieve scale both for the business and society when it is aligned to the core business strengths.

Rakesh Kapur, Managing Director of IFCCO Kisan Sanchar Limited said: “People need information to make decisions about their livelihoods. In rural India, where agricultural productivity is low and there is food insecurity, better information with knowledge-exchange is an important instrument to alleviate poverty. Our Mission is to empower the rural poor by providing them pertinent real time via affordable mobile communications to facilitate improved decision making ability at their end.”

Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said: “Each year the Awards for Excellence showcases the most inspiring and impactful examples of corporate responsibility in action. Each of our winners displays a genuine commitment to continually improve their business practices and transform the communities in which they operate and do business. Our winners should be proud of their achievements particularly in these challenging times. They are taking a genuine stand to prove that doing business and doing good are not mutually exclusive concerns. We hope that by sharing their stories and successes, other companies will be challenged to place responsible business at the heart of their operation.”

The Company of the Year award in association with Tomorrow’s Company was picked up by Wates Construction Group for its innovative approach and commitment to addressing the critical sustainability challenges that their industry faces and Maloney’s Budgens scooped the Small Company of the Year award in association with the IOD for their commitment to building corporate responsibility into the heart of their business and their communities.

The 2011 Awards for Excellence event is sponsored by outgoing Company of the Year Unilever.

Awards in numbers

With all national and regional award entries combined, BITC received 394 entries in 2011. 123 entries resulted in National Big Tick awards, and 65 of these were shortlisted for the Example of Excellence within their category. 87 companies had their 2009/2010 national Big Ticks reaccredited this year.

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