ANNOUNCING THE 2015 INDIA FELLOWS
Acumen is proud to announce the selection of our second cohort of India Fellows. After a competitive application process, we’ve chosen a diverse group of 20 leaders working in 13 states. This year’s Fellows are fighting poverty and changing lives across India through unique initiatives that range from providing affordable menstrual hygiene products to marginalized women, to making quality education available to children in conflict zones, to designing innovative sanitation solutions for the urban poor, and more. Read more about each Fellow and their inspiring work below.
Madhukar is a Senior Consultant for School Improvement at Gray Matters India, a data analytics and impact assessment company in the education sector. Madhukar is passionate about intervention models that build the capacity of key stakeholders in schools. Prior to Gray Matters, he spent five years with Teach For India (TFI) as a fellow, teaching 35 students in a government school in Pune, and also as a manager, working in different leadership roles with the Pune team. Before TFI, he was a product marketing manager with Larsen & Toubro in Mumbai for two years. Madhukar is from Hyderabad and holds a degree in engineering from BITS Pilani and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Education from IGNOU.
Neeladri is the co-founder of Northeast Centre for Equity Action on Integrated Development, a nonprofit focused on sustainable development in the Northeast states of India. His goal is to build an integrated sustainable development platform in Northeast India by supporting rural populations on issues such as healthcare, education, and youth and women empowerment. Neeladri also works with the Regional Resource Centre for Northeastern States as a public health consultant. He is from Guwahati, Assam and holds a postgraduate diploma in health economics, financing and health policy from the Indian Institute of Public Health, Delhi.
Rajat is the National Manager for Swasthya Choupal, ITC’s e-Choupal rural health initiative. Swasthya Choupal creates awareness around health issues like family planning, menstrual hygiene and sanitation, and provides access to high-quality health products through a network of more than 300 rural women entrepreneurs. To date, the program reaches over 450 villages across nine districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Rajat has also worked with various nonprofits, government health departments and international funding institutions on eye care, tuberculosis, maternal and child health and family planning. He is currently based in Hyderabad, is an MBBS graduate from BJ Medical College, Ahmedabad and holds a master’s degree in rural management from IRMA.
Swapnil is the founder and the Chief Toilet Cleaner at Samagra, which uses information and communication technology, behavioral sciences, data analytics and design to provide toilet services to the urban poor. Currently, Samagra is serving over 5,000 users residing in the slums of Pune and plans to reach over 20 million users in five years by collaborating with organizations across the developing world. Swapnil, also known as the “Poop Guy,” is a divergent thinker who believes the answers to problems lie in the innovative use of psychology, technology and design. In 2011, Swapnil dropped out of a management and design program at Northwestern University, gave up his U.S. residency and moved back to India to start Samagra, where he lived in the slums of various Indian cities to gain firsthand experience of the problem he aimed to solve. He is an Ashoka Fellow, holds a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering from Bhilai Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from New Mexico State University.
Sanjukta is Senior Manager of Research and Innovation at ayzh, a Chennai-based social enterprise improving maternal and newborn health in resource-poor areas. Through kit-style products and mobile training programs, ayzh works to provide women with access to safe deliveries and essential newborn care and ensure adherence to best practices across the maternal and newborn health continuum. To date, azyh has impacted over 140,000 mothers, newborns and healthcare providers across India, Africa and Latin America. Sanjukta was previously project manager and researcher with Simpa Networks, a social enterprise that makes solar energy accessible in rural markets. She has a master’s degree in design from IIT Bombay.
Kanan is the founder and Managing Director of Research Foundation for Governance in India, an Ahmedabad-based think tank that advocates for legal and political reform in Gujarat and across India. Her passion for bringing positive change to the legal system led her to initiate Lawtoons and LawForMe, which make the law more accessible and understandable to the public. Kanan is a certified mediator, a blogger for The Huffington Post, and was named a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum. She holds a master’s degree in public administration and a law degree from the London School of Economics.
Amit is the managing trustee of Saujanya Foundation, an organization with a vision that no one in India should die or suffer due to a lack of healthcare infrastructure. Saujanya Foundation specializes in detection and collaborative treatment options for low-income customers in urban slums and villages of Delhi National Capital Region, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The organization consists of a visionary leadership team and 90 volunteers, and soon plans to develop a “Hospital on Wheels” service delivery option. Amit has been the President of Rotary Club of Delhi Saket from 2012 – 2014 and is currently the core district team member and chairman of various committees at Rotary International District 3010.
Deepak is the co-founder and Head of Operations at Deviab Energy, a social enterprise providing quality, affordable energy services to low-income families in rural Bihar. Deviab promotes clean energy access in rural areas through a synergy of microfinance, technology and rural energy hubs. Prior to Deviab Energy, Deepak worked with Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society where he spearheaded their energy access project in Purnia district and helped lighting up 10,000+ rural households with solar energy systems. Deepak holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from National Institute of Technology, Raipur and a master’s degree in environmental management from IIFM Bhopal.
Vimal is the founder of Movement for Scavenger Community (MSC), an organization committed to the eradication of manual scavenging in India and bringing education and awareness to the existing scavenger community. Under MSC he also operates the Dr. B.R. Ambedker Youth Study Center which provides career counselling and a small library to disadvantaged students in Haryana. As a Ph.D scholar in social work with a focus on caste violence at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, he was awarded the Young Professional Fellowship from the Dalit Foundation in 2008. Vimal holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work from the University of Kurukshetra in Haryana.
John is a Senior Consultant at LabourNet, an organization enabling livelihoods through work-integrated job training, financial inclusion and job linkages for informal sector workers. In his current role, John is working on a skill gap study to understand the demand for vocational skills training as well as the strategy for and implementation of LabourNet’s courses. He is from Bangalore and holds a Master of Science in International Business Management from the University of Bradford.
Ishira is the co-founder of CropConnect Enterprises, which creates demand-driven value chains in agriculture by working directly with buyers and farmers. Ishira envisions an India where farmers are competitive in global supply chains and connected with end buyers in a mutually beneficial manner. Headquartered in New Delhi, CropConnect operates through its countrywide farmer networks and is currently working on projects in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Arunachal Pradesh states. Ishira previously worked with the International Finance Corporation and the Self Employed Women’s Association. She has master’s degrees in international development and comparative politics from Harvard Kennedy School and London School of Economics, respectively.
Suhani is the co-founder and CEO of Saral Designs, a Mumbai-based social enterprise providing access to quality affordable menstrual hygiene products to low-income women in India. Taking a systems thinking approach, Saral enables women’s groups to produce their own low-cost sanitary napkins by providing them with fully automatic, compact desktop machines to manufacture the products, along with continual operations, distribution, supply chain and marketing support. With three years of investment banking experience at Deutsche Bank, Suhani holds a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering with a minor in electrical engineering from IIT Bombay.
Uthara is the Chief Changemaker of Buzz India, an innovative mobile education delivery program housed in a bus. As a social entrepreneur, Uthara’s goal is to alleviate poverty through capability building for the poor. Buzz empowers rural women in South India as well as microfinance recipients in Kenya by offering educational tools and solutions designed to increase their personal, business and financial growth. To date, Buzz’s quantitative impact shows that, on average, the women they have worked with have increased their revenues by 16 percent, profits by 30 percent and personal savings by 97 percent. Hailing from Bangalore, Uthara is a Cost and Management Accountant and holds a diploma in youth in development.
Raghav represents 2,662 women shareholders of RamRahim Pragati Producer Company Ltd., one of India’s largest producer-owned agri-value chain companies. Raghav works with these women who grow crops, such as soybean, maize, pulse, wheat and millet, on adopting the non-pesticide management protocol. RamRahim Pragati was the first company of its kind to receive an equity grant from the Indian government to support its work and is the first producer-owned company to become a listed member with the National Commodity and Derivative Exchange. Raghav lives and works in Narmada Valley in District Dewas and spent a year at the Young India Fellowship to study liberal arts after graduating as a Metallurgical Engineer from NIT-K, Surathkal.
Jenpu is the founder of Community Avenue Network (CAN), a youth-led nonprofit based in Dimapur, Nagaland in the Northeast region of India. CAN operates projects including providing material and moral support to children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, vocational training for underprivileged youth and organizing volunteers from different colleges and villages to engage in community service. Presently, Jenpu is Information Secretary of Nagaland Alliance for Children and Women Rights.
Ashweetha is CEO and co-founder of Bodhi Tree Skills, a Tamil Nadu-based social venture that trains, supports and mentors rural college graduates so they can access better career opportunities. Based in Tirunelveli district, Bodhi has trained 800 college students to date. Ashweetha previously worked as a Community Engagement Coordinator with SughaVazhvu Healthcare, which provides last-mile primary healthcare in rural India. Ashweetha is a Young India Fellow and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Manonmaniam Tirunelveli University.
Ashish is the co-founder of Bachpan Banao Fellowship. Bachpan Banao works in the remote tribal areas of Chattisgarh state affected by left-wing extremism to ensure children from marginalized families have access to quality education by strengthening resources and support for teachers. As an engineer-turned-education professional passionate about serving rural areas, Ashish has over nine years’ of experience working with such corporations as Infosys and NIIT and nonprofits as Teach For India. Ashish holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Bhopal University.
Lewitt is the founder of Learning is Fun and Experiential (LIFE) Lab. Lewitt and his team are scripting the would-be story of the transformation of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education in India. Life Lab is democratizing STEAM education by creating academically inclusive classrooms and building the capacity of teachers, the most important stakeholders in these areas. To date, Life Lab has helped maximize the potential of more than 17,000 children from economically disadvantaged communities in four states across India. Lewitt is a former Teach for India Fellow and holds a Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nagpur.