Grameena Vikas Kendram

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a semifinalist.

Grameena Vikas Kendram: Tip4change

Auroville, IndiaWarangal, India
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Tip4change uses smartphones to connect consumers with producer groups working on community projects, putting the power for change in the hands of those who are directly affected. We combine 3 proven models: fairtrade, mobiles and micro donations.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if thousands of consumers use their phones to choose ethical products, get to know their producers and leave small tips to help farmers sustainably develop their villages?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Farmers and consumers both want the same: health and wellbeing for themselves and the planet. They are natural allies, but disconnected by an anonymous market. Producers lack confidence to solve their own issues, and consumers lack trust. In a market based on competition everyone is suspicious and even ethical brands do not dare to be 100% transparent. We expect “experts” to solve problems, which makes us complacent and helpless.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

With smartphone technology we connect consumers and producers directly. Farmer groups present community projects run by themselves, customers can choose responsibly produced apparel and leave a tip for a development project that touches them deeply. Key features: -Producers and consumers get to know each other directly as humans, not market forces -Full social & ecological information informs consumers about impact. Chance to validate product claims directly -Everyone benefits: farmers & consumers but also brands & retailers -Exclusion of intermediaries and power in the hands of people like you and me -Material information to support circular economy/recycling


Semi-finalist of Unreasonable Institute.Our farmers mobilization work has received Global Green Grants Award,2015. Villgro Unconvention competition winner, 2015, Jaipur. Selected for incubation support of UnLtd Tamil Nadu.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

You walk into a fashion store. Between the racks of clothes one shirt catches your eye, with a swing tag that shows a photo of a farmer and a caption “thank you for buying this!“. You scan the tag with your phone and see a menu of options with local projects: drinking water, girl’s education, wildlife. You even see farmers’ phone numbers. You like the shirt, check out and ask the lady at the till “is this for real?” She says: “try it out”. You add $2 to the bill and receive a confirmation sms. 3 months later you get a report about the project you had chosen: “thanks to 200 customers like you, the farmer group set up safe drinking water in the village school!” You share this on your facebook and more supporters mobilized for the cause.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We started mobilizing 42 cotton farming families in South India, and managed to increase their income by 68%. This was possible because we collected as much data as we could, and shared this with their buyers, winning trust by offering transparency. One Dutch brand, TforChange paid almost double the market price and still made a profit. The farmers also received a report with full open costing. One campaign with the Dutch royal family has lead to large enough orders to convince T-shirt factories to share production data for our database. We are now piloting the model with 3 European brands. Future impact will include more collective projects and more direct communication between end-users and producers. This content is not mediated or curated by anyone and therefore free from manipulation. Such stories on social media andwill lead to “race to the top” for brands and retailers

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The power of the market can lead to more diversity. We use the “authenticity” and “sharing” trends to convert more and more users. Power shifts from rich brands and advertising to the people who are directly affected. In 5 years we will build partnerships with 10 courageous brands and 20,000 active consumers. In 10 years we see a new economic paradigm: Market laws are no longer seen as a rigid, unchangeable, but means to the end of human aspirations in all their diversity. We do not predict the shape this will take, to leave space for futures to unfold.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Farmers pay for trainings and admin support. We charge consumers a % from their tips to cover admin. Retailers pay a subscription fee from their customer loyalty budget. Brands pay for supply chain intelligence and impact claims from their sourcing and marketing funds. Optional bonus: all companies along the chain can invest CSR funds to boost impact through matching funds.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Many projects focus on standards and labeling, but few focus on direct communication between the head and tail of the value chain. Fairtrade does cause marketing, but consumers can’t verify their claims. Most producer stories are edited. We want protagonists to tell their own story. In local farmers markets the buyers meet growers. In local charities donors meet the beneficiaries. We are bringing this directness to global markets, using existing relationships but adding more layers. We use the power of self-organisation to regulate use and abuse of information.

Founding Story

In 2006 we ran a successful organic and fair trade certified cotton project in India for which one of us got the Ashoka fellowship. Our farmer-owned marketing company mobilized 5000 marginalized farming families to increase efficiency, reduce input costs, raise incomes, and implement community projects. When we approached brands and certifiers with our field stories they told us there was “no space” for so much detail at point of sale. But consumers were asking for more! We did a survey among international groups of ethical consumers and got an overwhelming confirmation: 92% are NOT happy with the amount of information brands give. 30% are willin to pay tips above ethical premiums.


Aneel Kumar Ambavarm and Gijs Spoor have worked together for 8 years in sustainable agriculture supply chains in India. Both are agri engineers graduated in organic agriculture from Wageningen University, The Netherlands and have a different specialization: Aneel is more technical and Gijs more commercial. Gijs has large networks in the fashion industry and Aneel has strong networks in the field. We share a deep passion for social justice and ecology, and are very familiar with strengths and weaknesses of intervention models as well as each other. Aneel founded 2 NGO’s serving rural communities in South India, is a strong inspirational leader who feels the pulse of farmers and field staff. He is running two social enterprises and one of them is in connection to organic cotton. Gijs founded various successful organic cotton companies and now runs a social entrepreneurship incubator in South India, so knows about start-ups, investment and testing disruptive innovations. He teaches systems thinking to social workers as well as corporates. Currently Aneel is in charge of Tip4change operations, Gijs supports on strategy and partnerships and we are hiring a tech professional. Till now have been developing prototypes with volunteers. Once we grow beyond a single farmer group we will employ a trainer to train local NGO’s working with farmer groups on project management and communication. For marketing and client relationships we start working with interns from reputed B-schools and hire full time members once we receive seed investment.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Raw Materials, Manufacturing, Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Advocate/Organizer, Farmer or Farmer Association Representative, Non-profit Staff, Researcher, Sourcing Manager / Supply Chain Manager, Supplier - contractor, Supplier - subcontractor, Technologist.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Brands, Children, Consumers, Farmer or Farmer Associations, Factory Workers, Factory Owners, Researchers, Retailers - Department Store, Retailers - Specialty Store, Retailers - Mass-merchandise Chain, Retailers - Discount Chain, Sourcing Manager / Supply Chain Manager, Supplier - subcontractor, Technologists, Women, Youth.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Essential Services (i.e. Healthcare and Education), Accountability, Conscious Consumerism, Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Recycling or Circular Economy, Transparency.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Advocacy, Data, Media.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Hidden from View: Conditions in Forests, Farms, and Factories are Only Visible to a Select Few, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders, Disrupt Business as Usual: Target Key Players Who Can Influence the Bottom Line, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

Farmers are inspired to take charge of their own village development. Consumers are empowered to act as change-makers.

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

Please see the document attached.