In a visit to our office, Somesh Basavanna, CEO of Sahaja Samrudha, got candid with us. He took us down his memory lane and we had a vicarious experience of his journey. Sahaja Samrudha is one of our partner farmer producer companies and we were thrilled to know more about it, from the CEO himself. Here’s a narrative.
Let’s start from the very beginning! Somesh is the son of a farmer and his forefathers had been into the agriculture sector as well. He completed his Class 10th from a school in Mandya district in Karnataka and pursued a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Commerce from the University of Mysore. Soon after, he was faced with options of career choices to be made. When all of his friends opted for careers in the teaching line or to work in call centres, Somesh was interested in doing something for the society. So he joined the DHAN Foundation and worked there for one and a half years. It was the Green Foundation in Bangalore where he started working with farmers.
After working for NGOs for a while, Somesh had to quit due to financial strains and decided to take up a corporate job. In the next 3 years, he worked at Aditya Birla and Reliance Communications. Now that money was not a pressing issue, he had regular sessions of introspection where he questioned his job and always pondered over the fact that he was working to make the rich richer while there were people who were getting poorer by the day.
One fine day, Somesh was attending a meeting between the members of Sahaja Samrudha when he decided that he would put down his papers and work for the people. He had been a volunteer of Sahaja since very long as he handled their finances in his free time. However, his journey from being a volunteer to the CEO is quite a fascinating one. In the afore-mentioned meeting, there were discussions on how to improve the condition of farmers and Somesh was full of ideas for the same. Within a few hours, the members offered the position of CEO to him and it was in this moment that he decided he would take it.
There were inevitable protests from family and friends. His wife and father were particularly upset and everyone advised him to not compromise on the benefits his then company was offering him. As they say, the heart wants what it wants. Somesh believed in his decision and knew that money for him was never a source of satisfaction.
It was on May 5, 2011 that he joined Sahaja as the CEO and never looked back. He has been dealing with the challenges and even had to go without salary for the initial 3 months. Over time, things started to get better. In 2013, they broke even and now Sahaja regularly distributes profits to their farmers.
It has been a long way for Somesh and he wishes that more youngsters form farmer based companies and think about the farmers of our country. He finds extreme satisfaction in his job and feels that you have succeeded if at the end of the day, you are happy and satisfied. Kudos to Somesh!