Cotton is the world’s most widely traded agricultural commodity, but it is also one of the world’s most toxic to grow. In India, the second largest producer of cotton, Zameen Organics Pvt. Ltd. has pioneered a business model of sustainable cotton production that is based on environmental stewardship and concern for the health and equity of farmers engaged in growing cotton. Zameen’s approach to business illustrates the principles of strategic corporate social responsibility, a business approach that leverages a company’s distinctive competencies to address external issues and by which all stakeholders, not just the shareholders, are enriched.
Zameen Organics Pvt. Ltd. (Zameen), a privately held, small farmer-owned company in western India, approaches the production of cotton as an opportunity to generate positive outcomes for all its stakeholders. It is a pioneer in sustainable cotton production and serves as an example of strategic CSR.
Zameen is one of India’s producers of fair trade and organic cotton. The company’s vision states that “innovative design, social equity, and stewardship of the land go hand in hand.” Founded in 2006 with 300 farmers, Zameen had revenues of over $1 million two years later and had grown to over 3,000 farmers in 2011.
Zameen was founded in 2006 by Satish Chukkapalli, Gijs Spoor, and Edapalil Mathai Koshy. Chukkapalli and Koshy were born, raised, and educated in India. The former is an experienced international marketer, having worked for several years in the Indian textile industry. The latter is a rural development expert and Chairman of Agricultural and Organic Farming Group India (AOFG). Chukkapalli and Koshy provide a wealth of local knowledge about India’s complex public and private systems as well as expertise in their own fields. A Norwegian by birth, Spoor moved to India in 2003 and worked for various fair trade entities before embarking on this venture. The three men founded Zameen with the aim of providing an alternative and better future for rural, cotton-growing farmers.