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Student Profile

Erica Dhawan

Erica Dhawan, MBA ’12

  • Co-founded Supply Change, a startup seeking to eliminate inefficiencies in the food supply chains of developing countries
  • Named a 2009—2010 fellow at the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship
  • Led MIT Sloan study tour to India in April 2010

Fifty percent of the world’s produce rots annually, says Erica Dhawan. And in countries where communication is at a premium, small-scale family farmers lose much of their crop to missed opportunities and unforeseen or unknown market fluctuations.

That’s 1,600 calories per day, per person, that are wasted,” she says. “Every person on this planet.”

With a team of MIT Sloan and MIT colleagues, Dhawan is working to reduce that waste and help farmers send more food to market. She is a co-founder of Supply Change, which seeks to slash poverty in developing countries by arming farmers with inexpensive technologies to better leverage their place in the market and to make better use of their rice, wheat, mangoes, bananas, and other crops.

“The real goal is creating a mindset shift where farmers are seen not just as receivers of charity, but as entrepreneurs and as customers,” says Dhawan, who predicts a growing market for small farm, organic produce from India.

Supply Change is giving rural farmers more choices to make. The company developed a mobile market aggregator that uses SMS to collect harvest information from farmers and digest it into market updates, which are returned to farmers and cooperatives.

The company is also seeking ways to use fruit that would otherwise be wasted, processing it into high-quality products for U.S. food companies. The group’s slogan is “Stop the Rot Now!”

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