Thailand startup venture Siam Organic Co, Ltd., (Siam Organic) has taken home the star prize from the third prestigious Chivas Venture 2017 startup business model contest held in Los Angeles, USA, last week, and along with it US$400,000 (about Bt13.392 million) in prize money.
The company fought off challenges by entries from 30 competitors to win the prized award at a red carpet event at the Los Angeles Design Centre where the final five competitors pitched their business model in front of more than 300 guests.
Established in 2011 with a vision ‘that economic value can be competitively established by creating societal value’, Siam Organic ‘aims to positively impact the lives of farmers’. And impact them they have.
Working with a network of 600 farmers who the company helps educate and train in organic rice growing techniques, its work has seen crop yields increase by 40 per cent over the last three years and generated more than Bt8 million ($239,000) in income in 2016.
Named Jasberry, the purple-coloured naturally cross-bred, non-GMO, organic, high-antioxidant, highly nutritious variety of rice was developed by the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) in conjunction with Kasetsart University.
The company guarantees to buy all of its farmers’ rice, with the price per kilogram (2.2 lbs) currently double that of Thailand’s renowned fragrant jasmine rice, which it then packages in modern, eye-catching packaging for sale to upper class consumers.
The Chivas Venture 2017 is not the first prize the company has won. In 2011 Siam Organic was the global winner of the Stu Clark Investment Competition in Winnipeg, Canada, the global winner of the Bangkok Business Challenge in Bangkok, Thailand, and was awarded best presentation at the Venture Lab Investment Competition in Austin, USA all in the same year.
The award has not escaped the attention of Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who lauded praise on the company saying that it is the government’s intention to encourage startup businesses to build knowledge and innovations into their products and services, and help change traditional farming practices into modern ones using the same principle as startup business development.
General Prayut urged government agencies, private companies, and farmers to join hands and follow the model of Siam Organic, whose model sees its farmers earning eight times more than their contemporaries.
Second prize in the Chivas Venture 2017 startup business model contest, along with $200,000 in cash, was awarded to Nigerian RecyclePoints, a waste recycling and social benefit venture, while third prize and $50,000 each was awarded to three contestants, Colombia’s Bioestibas, South African i-Drop Water, and Maryland, USA-based Intendu.
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