Disclosure: Namahe, the Blockchain-based Supply Chain, has previously sponsored Hacker Noon.
Today we’re going to catch up with Namahe co-founder Kumar Mudaliar, and Adqura Director & Namahe partner Sameer Prakash. Kumar has more than 15 years of experience in the banking sector, specializing in Finance, Strategy and Business Operations. Sameer Prakash led the AI implementation of the platform, and has spent 7 years as CTO of Adqura, Namahe’s partner.
David: Why does Namahe need to exist?
Kumar & Sameer: Because even the biggest of companies have not been able to bring in complete transparency in their supply chains and there is still evidence of issues around working conditions, wages, child labour, harassment, and violation of local laws in the supply chains of many industries such as Fashion.
Could you share the company’s founding story? What is the story behind the name of the company, “Namahe”?
‘Namahe’ in sanskrit means ‘thanks to the creator.’
The entire purpose behind Namahe is to ensure fair practices in the value creation of a product and fair treatment for each stakeholder involved in creating a product.
The company was founded by Ajay Lakhwani in 2009 based on his experience of managing social responsibility for 9 years at Gap Inc. in South Asia. Ajay was aware of the root causes and the situation on the ground in the formal as well as informal sectors within the apparel supply chain. He has worked on improving working conditions and has partnered with different stakeholders to reduce the ethical issues down the supply chain. However, due to the scale and complexity of these issues, he believed that technology needs to play a big role.
Your white paper says Namahe will be the “first socially responsible supply chain.” In layman’s terms, could you explain what that means? If the world had a widely used socially responsible supply chain, what would the social impact be?
Namahe is a platform that any company in any industry will be able to use to create traceability and transparency in their supply chain. It would join all stakeholders starting from the worker and factories to the retailers and consumers under one platform. In layman’s terms, as a consumer, one could be confident that the products they are using have been manufactured under ethical conditions. As retailers, they would have access to all the necessary information through blockchain, would be able to partner with other retailers to share information and would be able to benefit from efficiencies via Artificial Intelligence. For manufacturers, they would have better control of their manufacturing tiers especially for the operations performed in the informal sector. For the workers, they would be able to feed their own information on the amount of work done, wages received and grievances via the Namahe platform through the user friendly interfaces provided to them.
Is Namahe more of an AI company or a Blockchain company? What type of technology is Namahe?
Namahe is an amalgamation of both.
The platform provides a true end to end view of the supply chain by using technology to track orders as they get actioned in the spider web that is the modern supply chain.
The platform provides (mobile & desktop) apps and interfaces to allow registered stakeholders to perform functions on the platform.
As you would expect, the Namahe platform is built on Blockchain with each order a smart contract with expected SLAs and parameters. As the order passes down and then back up the chain, each stakeholder is treated as node in the blockchain and they need to satisfy the requirements of the tasks stated in the contract.
AI keeps track of each of the hundreds and thousands of individual tasks and its impacts on the overall delivery SLAs. At the individual level, it is a friendly virtual assistant helping and reminding the users track and complete their tasks. At the platform level it is assessing the impacts and adjusting parts of the chain to compensate and replan to hit targets.
This is our solution — a smart Blockchain Platform supported by AI exposed as a series of application UX / UI to the end user.
What is the current state of the product? And what technologies will become core to the platform?
The concept behind the product was built out in Namahe 1.0. As part of Namahe 2.0 (the current project), we have agreed a real world pilot use case with a prospective brand.
The product roadmap looks like this:
1. Design POCs (May-June 2018)
As part of this POC we are exploring the available ‘Design’ options on IBM Hyperledger and how these features can be used in the best way on our platform. This is currently underway.
2. Technical Demonstrator (June 2018)
In tandem with the Design POC we are building a working version to demonstrate the pilot use case to the prospective brands. This is being kicked off as we speak.
3. First Brand engaged and project kick off (Oct 2018)
We are actively working with a top brand and our partners to start the first phase of the live project in Q4–2018.
What is Namahe’s short-term and long-term business model?
The short-term business model is to divide the end to end supply chain platform into different modules such as the sub-contractor module and the Informal sector module. We are already in discussions with retailers and developmental organisations to test these modules on the ground. Once all modules are completed and tested we would begin licensing it to the retailers and also develop the Namahe Marketplace based around the Namahe platform. This however, would be an independent marketplace enabling small and medium sized manufacturers and retailers to trade.
What is the current makeup of the Namahe team (skillsets, location, volume, etc.)? And what will you be hiring for over the next year? (feel free to link job ads)
Ajay Lakhwani, Cofounder, UK
17 years expertise in general management, sales and supply chain in e-commerce, fashion and consumer product industries. Diverse experience working in regional and global leadership roles including management of vendor development and social responsibility in South Asia for one of the largest global clothing retailer, Gap Inc.
Kumar Mudaliar, Cofounder, UK
Has more than 15 years of experience in the banking sector, Kumar specialises in Finance, Strategy and Business Operations. Apart from his accounting and financial repertoire, Kumar is a crypto enthusiast and a believer in the power of Blockchain technology.
Kanika Dhyani Ph.D, Data Scientist, Operational Research Specialist, Italy
Kanika applies optimisation algorithms and predictive modelling in the ambience of capacity planning in data centres and for HYBRID CLOUD projects including Amazon and Azure. She specialises in Operations Research, Data Analysis, Statistics and Mathematical Modelling.
Razvan Pitic Ph.D, RFID, IOT & Wireless Specialist, Italy
Experienced technology specialist in the field of IoT/M2M with a strong research background in Wireless communications. Razvan is an expert in IoT and RFID technologies. He specialises in R&D in wireless networks, medium access techniques, resource allocation, packet scheduling algorithms, QoS provisioning and consulting in ICT.
Anthony Colón Jr., Blockchain Developer, USA
Anthony C Jr is a Blockchain whizkid. He started programming when he was just 14, creating his versions of popular online games. At 17 he went professional, designing Real estate websites but was back in the crypto fold a few years later, as an active member of the ICO community and worked on a number of successful ICOs. He joins Namahe as the lead blockchain developer. Crypto and Music are Anthony’s passion.
Sane Lebrun, Head of Marketing & Social Media, France
Sane has 8 years of experience working for tech companies in all spheres of digital marketing including brand development, mobile marketing, partnership management, social media growth, SEO, content marketing, influencer marketing and creative asset management. He specialises in designing and driving marketing campaigns for companies within the blockchain space.
In the next year, we will be expanding the team and partnering with new retailers and NGOs, working closely within the informal sector as we have with SEWA Bharat. The team will comprise of sales, technical and community team members to deliver the Namahe platform.
Why will Namahe be starting in the fashion industry? How will people in fashion adopt it?
Namahe will be start with the fashion industry as it’s a $3 Trillion USD industry, has a lengthy and globally spread supply chain, consists of both formal and informal sectors making it non-transparent and therefore more prone to exploitations. It also consists of tens of millions of workers globally, most of whom are from low to very low income groups from under developed markets. People in fashion would adopt Namahe as it would provide them the tools, processes and interfaces that would help them avoid or detect ethical issues in their supply chain, something they have been trying to achieve for decades with minimal success. Moreover, Namahe would use AI along with blockchain for continuous learning and improvements thereby improving efficiencies.
When labor exploitations are discovered (such as child labor or below minimum wage labor), how will Namahe intervene?
Namahe would provide traceability through the use of blockchain, and would provide processes, tools and interfaces to avoid and detect exploitation. Namahe would be working together with all stakeholders including retailers, manufacturers, government authorities, development organisations and worker groups in an advisory capacity. However, the actions for any issues uncovered would be the responsibility of the relevant stakeholders.
Could you tell us about how the NMH coin will work?
NMH is a utility token that plays a new and important role in the Namahe Marketplace, where retailers and suppliers, big and small are registered and interact for delivering orders.
The Namahe marketplace will be designed as a global platform that will aim to support payments using prevalent digital currencies with preference to NMH tokens (in compliance with local laws and regulation).
The ERC-20-compatible NMH token will be traded over the public Ethereum blockchain and will allow users to purchase and sell goods and services on Namahe Marketplace. The NMH token will be listed on major exchanges (to be announced) and will be transferable to other cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies.
It is anticipated that demand of the NMH tokens will be driven by trading on the exchanges and the demand for usage on the Namahe marketplace, whilst the number of tokens in the public domain remains fixed.
What is the goal (amount and timing) of the token sale? And what discount is currently being offered?
The Namahe Token Sale has a soft cap (if the the limit is not reached, the funds would be returned to the investors) of USD 4m and a hard cap of USD 30m. We are issuing 60m NMH tokens for public sale at the rate of 1 ETH = 1000 NMH tokens. Until 6th June we have 20% bonus tokens and thereafter until 20th June we are offering 15% bonus tokens.
How can the blockchain create transparency around supply chains in ways that other technologies can’t?
The biggest issues with supply chains are the invisible or informal parts of the supply chain, the flow of information and risk of tampering of the records. Using blockchain would help us decentralise the records and make them tamper proof, make the information available to all stakeholders and enable the workers to enter information pertaining to their work.
What does Namahe look like in 5 years?
In 5 years, Namahe would be a platform being widely used by retailers throughout their supply chains. Namahe Marketplace would be creating a buzz as an emerging online place for B2B trade amongst medium to small scale manufacturers and retailers globally.