The most powerful inspiration is often found in our surroundings, in the small things we grow up with and incidents in our daily lives that leave an impression on us. It was the same for Yogesh Gawande. Growing up in an agrarian family in Aurangabad, Yogesh experienced the little joys and struggles of being part of a socio-economically backward family of small farmers.
His parents owned a small farm, and most of his extended family members were engaged in farming or in agriculture related work. Though his parents struggled financially, they ensured that Yogesh completed his education and enrolled him into Mechanical Engineering. While he was in college, his parents saved some money with great difficulty, to buy him a mobile phone. However, the boy had other ideas. He used that money to develop the prototype of a liquid spray pump for his first-year engineering project. This pump would spray liquid pesticides or insecticides and would be extremely beneficial for farmers.
The pump won him the first prize. Surprised with this success, Yogesh wanted to develop the idea further. He thought about commercialising the product. Proactive by nature, he started participated in trade shows and expos and displayed his product, even while he continued to study. As a part-time entrepreneur, he managed to sell 20 pumps!
Once he completed his degree, it was time to put his ideas into action. He came to BYST with his concept. BYST helped him through a three-month orientation session where he learnt about the steps of doing business, accounting, marketing, and networking. He was assigned a mentor from a similar field. Mr. Milind Kank, Yogesh’s mentor, helped his develop his concept further and converted it into a viable business idea. With a robust business proposal, Yogesh was able to withdraw a loan to kickstart his business.
With his mentor’s guidance, Yogesh expanded his portfolio to include a manual model, a battery-operated model and a combined (manual-cum-automatic) model. When the pandemic induced a lockdown in India, he was also able to pitch the product to be used to sanitise narrow roads and streets where big trucks and machines could not reach. This idea from his mentor helped him create a whole new vertical for his business. Realising that going digital is the next best step for his business, his mentor guided him to create a YouTube channel and register his business on e-commerce portals and web directories. He also built his own website.
“My mentor not only guided me with skills and expert advice, but also helped me with courage and knowledge which was essential for me to run this business. I was just a kid out of college at that time. His guidance is the reason why I am who I am today,” Yogesh confesses.
Fifty percent of India’s population is into farming. And over eighty five percent of those farmers are small or medium farmers. Yogesh’s childhood made him very familiar with the struggles and challenges small farmers face. The farmers in his village were toiling hard, but without much success. Lacking the right equipment and tools, the time they spent in farming was hardly commensurate with the benefits they received. Yogesh desperately wanted to help make their lives better. His product was inspired by the daily battles he grew up observing all around him.
After fine-tuning his products under the guidance of his mentor, the products have had a great impact on the farmer community, helping over 12,000 farmers spread over 14 States. They no longer have to carry heavy pumps on their backs but can conveniently wheel them to the farm sites thereby saving them from grave physical injuries. Conventional spraying which would usually take anywhere between one to two hours of time to complete now can be achieved in under 30 minutes. The product is very affordable to even small and marginal farmers.
Today, in late twenties, Yogesh can already take care of his family. He is so grateful to them for sacrificing so much to provide for his education and constantly encourage him to follow his dreams. His father and brother work with him now, helping to extend educational support and internship opportunities to other extended members of the family. He already has created six jobs and has also been able to help his sister and his widowed aunt. Being able to do something for his loved ones at such a young age boosts his confidence.