Mumbai-based entrepreneurs get invited by US President Obama for a summit at Stanford University

Updated: Jun 23, 2016, 13:25 IST | Gaurav Sarkar |

On behalf of President Obama, the White House has invited Mumbai-based agricultural company, BOHECO, which deals with formal conception, growth and contribution of the multipurpose hemp crop, to be a part of a panel discussion at the 7th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University on June 23rd and 24

In what marks a new start for the Indian agriculture industry, a group of seven young entrepreneurs from Mumbai have been invited on behalf of President Barack Obama and The White House, for a panel discussion at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, on 23rd and 24th June.

Barack Obama. Pic/AFP
Barack Obama. Pic/AFP

Their company, BOHECO (Bombay Hemp Company), which deals with the multipurpose hemp plant and its commercial and industrial uses, had been chosen as one of (roughly) 10-15 Indian/American Indian companies to attend the 7th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Sanvar Oberoi, Co-Founder and Director of Finance and Digital Technology, Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO), will be representing BOHECO at the Summit that commences tomorrow, and will also be one of four panellists at a panel discussion moderated by heather Grady (VP,Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors).

The summit, in itself, demonstrates President Obama's "long-standing support for entrepreneurship and his call to action to generate new investment in entrepreneurs around the world," and will illuminate how impact investment can drive more capital into sectors that help achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The session will be an interactive discussion that aims to catalyze new commitments and partnerships for action in 2016 and beyond.

"I'm going to talk about the BOHECO Model and the underlying economics, as well as our approach to solve the root cause of several problems of Indian agriculture rather than each individual problem at surface level itself with the aim to cause systemic change," said Oberoi (25). "Instead of looking at Indian agriculture as a hotbed for legacy problems that have persisted through the ages, BOHECO looks at each crop as a goldmine of opportunity in terms of R&D."

Earlier in May, Sanvar had given a talk at Stanford about how India could be the next base for agriculture globally, where all the material that is used for research in the Silicon Valley can come from the fields in India. "We didn't think anything would come out if it, to be honest," said Yash Kotak (25), Director of Project and Quality management, BOHECO. "This is their (the USA's) version of Startup India, and for an agricultural company like us, to be a part of this global recognition amidst tech-driven companies that are primarily based out of the Valley, made us feel elated."

A proud feeling
"For us to be among the Olas and Ubers of the world, it is definitely a proud feeling," said Chirag Tekchandaney, Director of Marketing & Human Resources. "We want to take back as much as we can from this summit, because even we, as a company, are going to create something that is going to be a revolutionary product. We want to see how we can adopt the things they (Uber and Ola) got right in penetrating global masses."

"This is just the beginning; we are just getting started," said Kotak, adding that their presence at this summit was more of a learning curve for them. "Its not about what crop we are growing and what we are doing with it, but about how we are working this crop and the impact that it can create even on the lowest strata of society," he said.

"We're a core R&D and detailed regulation abiding organisation, so being the first company in the industrial hemp domain working to build the entire platform from though leadership to large scale manufacturing and market creation is a long drawn process," pointed out Oberoi. "We're in it for the long haul, and so, we're patient. Only our work and numbers will build the real impression."

BOHECO was started on 19 January 2013, by seven individuals: Yash P. Kotak, Jahan Pestonjamas, Sanvar Oberoi, Sumit Shah, Chirag Tekchandaney, Avnish Pandya and Delzaad Deolaliwala.

According to Chirag Tekchandaney, Director of Marketing & Human Resources, a single state in India is capable of growing as much as hemp as the entire continent of Australia.

BOHECO holds a unique place in the handloom hemp industry, wherein they work with 25 family artisans in the north of the subcontinent.

Box (Background on the Summit) : In September 2015 President Obama, along with the leader of every country in the world, committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a bold set of 17 global goals and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030. The SDGs are a powerful expression of leaders and citizens committing to a brighter future that offers a unifying, universal vision toward which all countries can move. The SDGs converge social, economic and environmental goals, and chart the course to solve the world's most pressing problems. But the price tag to achieve them is no less than US $4 trillion per year. With a cost that dwarfs government budgets and philanthropy combined, the only path to success is a huge expansion of social finance, and an exponential growth in for-benefit businesses – enterprises that aim for positive social and environmental impact, not just financial return.

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