Pragya Maheshwari

Pragya is part of the Consulting Services team in Delhi, leading delivery for clients in the education sector for bringing systemic transformation at scale.

She has over 5 years of experience across multiple functions such as product management, sales strategy, operations management and analytical consulting. At Sattva she has worked as part of a USAID Program called Securing Water for Food, supporting 5 different social enterprises from across the globe (India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Ghana and Mozambique) on their business models, end-to-end marketing and sales strategies, organisational and financial models, value chain mapping, and business system integration.

Pragya is a Chemical Engineer (B.Tech & M.Tech) from IIT Bombay.

ADVISORY – SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS

OBJECTIVE
A group of social entrepreneurs developing technology innovations to optimise water usage for food production were looking to take their idea to market. They wanted to develop a robust business model in order to create impact in emerging economies. In our role as advisors, we helped these founders take ideas off the ground supported by a right business model, go-to-market strategy, and execution to scale their efforts.

SATTVA’S VALUE-ADD
As advisors our primary role with these entrepreneurs, whose innovations were mostly at seed or early stages of development, was to develop an actionable strategy to grow their venture from idea to market. We worked with them closely to establish the best business model to validate their innovations as well as identify the ideal consumer base in every market. We designed a business model strategy for three to five years which included correct pricing to ensure a product-market fit for long-term sustainability. Our mission was to condition entrepreneurs with business thinking and this involved working proactively with them to zero down on the core value-proposition of their product. Once they hit the market we delved into specific capacity building around sales, marketing, operational planning, financial forecasting and partnership strategy for the foreseeable future. From June 2016 we have meticulously helped these entrepreneurs move through each stage of their journey to reach the ultimate end goal of impact on the ground.

KEY LEARNINGS
We documented our actionable strategy for each aspect of business and entrepreneurship in a playbook which we believe can be customised for use by any innovator in the ecosystem. This knowledge material is a valuable asset for all players in the sector. Alongside, we contributed to change the mindset of social entrepreneurs to prove that innovations can lead to viable and sustainable businesses. Also, we were able to give them actionable strategies to survive and scale ventures, thereby boosting overall confidence in the sector. Innovators were able to strengthen their go-to-market strategy and capacities for next three-five years.

HIGHLIGHTS
Number of entrepreneurs advised: 12
10 Regions covered: Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa, Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Vietnam and Nepal
Innovations included: Seed tape, affordable green-house technology, contract farming, precision agricultural devices, and weather management phone service

GENDER ADVISORY

OBJECTIVE
Women smallholder farmers comprise of 43% of the labour force in emerging economies. However, their productivity is less than male counterparts because they don’t have equal access to productive resources, training, credit, information, or markets. In light of the problem, a group of agricultural innovators met at the 2017 The Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg, looking to bring women into their value chain of customers to create business and social impact. We were on-boarded as advisors to develop a plan on gender diversity through a well developed plan to engage women in order to increase their market reach and adoption of products.

SATTVA APPROACH
We had a two-hour session with each innovator to get a sense of their gender inclusivity ratio based on the existing business model, markets served, current numbers and activities undertaken to bring women into their value chain. After a clear assessment of their innovation and model we discussed benefits of gender integration to increase business and market outreach apart from creating social impact. We gave them practical examples of women-focused projects, conducted by us over the years, as proof of our thought process. We also made practical recommendations and suggestions to integrate women into their business model as both customers and important stakeholders in the agriculture value chain. For instance, we suggested working with women self-help groups to evangelise their products.

KEY LEARNINGS
This project demonstrated that innovators can reach untapped markets of women farmers for better business and social impact. It also captured practical methods and strategies to engage women in a playbook which is now valuable information for the ecosystem at large. Through our mentorship we were able to change the mindset of innovators. They now saw women as potential customers since they form an integral part of the household structure working on farms, therefore playing an important role in decision making as well. We had a high number of entrepreneurs who came forth to understand actionable steps to achieve this goal. They eventually added more women into their sales force which led to trust and increased adoption of products.

HIGHLIGHTS
● 14 innovators
● Countries covered: India, Jordan, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, Mozambique, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Vietnam
● Entrepreneurs brought more women into their sales force
● Practical marketing methodology documented in a playbook as knowledge capital for ecosystem