Tinkering with OCE

💸 How to turn rice into $$$ and impact

Published 13 days ago • 4 min read

It’s always the things you overlook

We’ve all been fooled by it at least once…Shiny Object Syndrome.

Every now and then, we are tempted by the glamorous stuff around us such as jobs and businesses.

We choose our careers and biz to build based on how “glamorous” they look on IG.

I should know…I made that mistake, too.

My first idea of a possible business was in the fancy world of fashion and ecommerce – hence my decision to join Walmart Ecommerce in their fashion division after graduation.

Guess what? I soon realized it was a business that required extremely large upfront capital YET not very profitable. I had the distinct pleasure of working on two fashion categories, both are bleeding money...BADLY.

It was after my experience in Southeast Asia when I realized money is made in places we often overlook. And many of these places can also generate great positive social impact.

Such as rice farming…


If you are new, welcome to OCE’s weekly newsletter curated for the ambitious youth…here are some articles you missed from previous weeks:


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Neil Dejkraisak (Unreasonable Fellow) — founder of Jasberry who says his life’s purpose is “Bringing Thai farmers out of poverty by sharing the most innovative, delicious and healthy organic products with the world."

The OCE cohort had the pleasure working with the Jasberry team back in 2022 to help them craft a compelling marketing campaign that would reflect their ethos of driving impact through rice. With this in mind the cohort designed the #grainofchange campaign to help Jasberry break into the North America market.

A few weeks back Neil shared this post:

Jasberry is now officially a multimillion dollar global empire with products sold all across the US, Asia, and EU. The slogan that the OCE cohort created can be seen on all their products and marketing materials. How cool is that?!

“But this business certainly can’t be recreated by youth?” skeptics would ask.

“What about starting capital? Supply chain? Regulations? Volatile weather affecting yield? This seems oversimplified, I can’t just start one in my backyard” One would add.

And you are not wrong.

It is certainly not a simple business model nor an overnight success for the Jasberry team. However, there are key insights that we can take away from this global empire which started as bootstrapped business with limited capital.

Going back to 2011, Neil and his cofounder Palmmy were MBA students in Thailand. They stumbled upon a sobering truth: Thail farmers, despite their hard work, were struggling to make ends meet, earning $0.4/day due to inefficient agricultural practices, resulting in very low yields and high costs.

This realization ignited the spark of change.

Determined to bring innovative and delicious products to the global market and transform small household lives, over the years Jasberry partnered with 2,500+ small-scale farmers' families in rural Thailand to grow Jasberry rice, a new variety of ultra-nutritious, non-GMO, wholegrain rice developed by scientists in Thailand over the last 10 years.

As a social enterprise, Jasberry generated millions USD in additional income and benefits for their farmers. Daily pay has increased from $0.40 to about $6 a day, crop yields are increasing 60 percent per year, and costs have declined 25 percent during the past five years.

Talk about impressive impact + profit!

Now let’s take a closer look of their revenue streams (channel x product mix):

1. Direct to consumer via Jasberry website

2. Ecommerce retailer - Amazon, Carrefour etc

3. Trade Shows

4. Restaurants

5. Traditional retailers – Whole Food, Sprouts, Thrive Markets etc

6. Superfood rice

7. Ready to eat rice

8. Flour

9. Herbal Tea Blend

10. Gift Set

Did you notice something?

For this extensive cash generating portfolio, Jasberry does not actually own or operate a single farm. Instead they choose to profit-share with farmers in their network based on sales of their product. Splitting the risk and reward of their venture.

By creating a network of co-operatives that function under the same ethos, principles, and regulations, the company can launch organic products into an international market with consistent quality and availability.

Here’s the kicker:

You don’t need a lot of capital, land, or even a team to start an agriculture biz or any biz for that matter. Sometimes the quickest way to get started is by leveraging other people’s untapped resources. We talked about this in detail in our article on how to start a biz with $0.

Also, you don’t need MORE customers for your product/service either. You just need to diversify your revenue streams. More products and services to sell to the same customers. FYI Jasberry has 5 variations of essentially the same product.

Sure, most of us aren’t suited to operate a farm co-op.

But the bottom line is there are LOTS of ways to make $$$ by starting small, starting in your neighbourhoods WHILE creating positive social impact.

Big change starts with a tiny grain of rice. And that’s awesome.

Hold up — Have you applied to OCE2024 yet?

Changemakers, buckle your seatbelts.

We’ve been teasing this for a few months… Now, it’s finally here:

OCE 2024 Global Innovation Program

Inside: Case study and interactive exercises led by Silicon Valley experts + co-create with ASEAN founders + build with a network of ambitious youth. Check it out.

PS. This summer, we are going to tackle pressing global issues and drive innovation in regions where it is needed the most. Want in?

We run a summer cohort for ambitious youth (high school and undergrads) to work directly with world-class founders while learning from Silicon Valley leaders. Check out our info session recording.

You can also explore purposeful opportunities through our Impact Internship Opportunities Database.

Get Curious.


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