Announcing the Inaugural Cohort of the Acumen India Fellows Program - Acumen

Announcing the Inaugural Cohort of the Acumen India Fellows Program

By Acumen on February 21, 2014

Acumen is proud to launch our newest leadership program this year in India, and we’re excited to announce the selection of inaugural class of India Fellows.

indiaAfter a competitive selection process, we’ve chosen are a diverse group of 21 inspiring individuals who are fighting poverty and changing lives of people all over India. Each Fellow is driving an innovative social change initiative addressing a variety of development issues, such as working with the government to increase access to quality maternal and child health care, building football programs in the urban slums, promoting livelihood development for poor sheepherders and goatrearers in rural Andhra Pradesh, and running a solar energy business to light up off-grid villages across India. See below for photos and bios of everyone in the incoming class of India Fellows:

Abbas Dadla

abbasAbbas is a Regional Manager with Avanti Learning Centres, an organization which combines technology and peer collaboration to reduce teacher dependency and provide a world class education at affordable rates. Avanti currently prepares over 600 low income high school students across 7 cities in India for the competitive engineering entrance examinations in partnership with affordable school systems. Abbas manages Avanti’s Mumbai operations. He hails from Mumbai, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Bombay.

Abhijeet Barse

abhijitAbhijeet is the CEO of SlumSoccer, an organization that runs football programs for the most disadvantaged members of Indian society. The decrease in harmful activities such as violence and drug use and the improvement in the participants’ lives inspired SlumSoccer to expand its programs to over 15 cities. Previously, Abhijeet was a Lecturer in the Department of Zoology at Nagpur University. Abhijeet is from Nagpur and has a PhD in Inland Aquaculture from the Central Institute of Fisheries Education.

Abhilasha Sinha

abhilashaAbhilasha is a Product Manager with Avanti Learning Centres, an organization which combines technology and peer collaboration to reduce teacher dependency and provide a world class education at affordable rates. Avanti currently works with over 600 low-income high school students across 7 cities in partnership with affordable school systems. Abhilasha manages the development of curriculum at Avanti. She is from New Delhi and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Delhi.

Achyutha Sharma

achyuthaAchyutha is the Founder of Collaborative Community, which offers design consulting services to social sector organizations and to businesses driving positive impact. He has worked with several companies in branding, retail, and design consulting, and has an active interest in the cultural sector and creative entrepreneurship. Achyutha holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the National Institute of Fashion Technology.

Arushi Chowdhury Khanna

arushiArushi heads the Enterprise Support Program at AIACA (the All-India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association), which conducts market-based, value-chain interventions to build sustainable artisan-based enterprises in rural India. Prior to AIACA, she has worked at the grassroots level with a broad spectrum of commercial, governmental and non-profit organisations in the craft sector. Arushi is from Mumbai, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from St. Xavier’s College, a certificate in Mathematics for Economic Application from IIT-Bombay and a Master’s Degree from the National Institute of Fashion Technology.

 Ram Barigela


Ram is the Senior Program Officer with Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN), a resource support organization involved in natural resource management and livelihood promotion in rainfed areas of India. He focuses on working with shepherds and goat rearers in the Mahabubnagar district, one of the largest and most underdeveloped districts of Telangana, by promoting viable business models for economic development. He holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Osmania University.

Charu Chadha

charuCharu is the Country Manager for CycleTel India, a mobile-enabled family planning tool developed by the Institute of Reproductive Health at Georgetown University. Previously, Charu was as a Shell Foundation Fellow where she worked with Dharma Life, a company that supports rural entrepreneurs. She also has significant experience working with state governments in India to formulate public policy. Charu is from Delhi, is a trained architect, and holds an MBA from the University of Oxford.

Girdhari Bora

girdhariGirdhari is an ICT Advisor at IntraHealth International, which works with governments, NGOs, and the private sector to empower health workers to better serve communities in need. Girdhari developed mSakhi, an innovative mobile based learning and counseling tool for Community Health Workers and leads execution of the same in several villages in Uttar Pradesh. He is a native Himalayan and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering from the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Indore.

Ihitashri Shandilya

IhitashriIhitashri is the Founder & CEO of MITHILAsmita Art & Craft Pvt. Ltd., a folk art organization working to generate employment for women artisans in north Bihar through preserving and promoting the centuries-old Madhubani (Mithila) painting form. Prior to starting her enterprise, Ihitashri worked as a SAP Consultant for several years. She is originally from Madhubani, and is currently based out of Bangalore. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra.

Jyotirmoy Chatterji

jyotirmoyJyotirmoy is the Co-founder of Project Chirag, a youth-led initiative to provide rural households with solar lighting. Through Project Chirag, Jyotirmoy has been instrumental in helping light up 6,000+ houses across 156 villages in 4 Indian states. Jyotirmoy also works with FirstRand Bank as a CSR Consultant, apart from consulting for various social enterprises and NGOs. He is from Mumbai and holds a Master’s Degree in Management from H.R. College, Mumbai.

Kaushik K

kaushikKaushik is the Project Manager for Special Projects at B-ABLE, an organization providing sustainable market-driven vocational training and livelihood services to under-privileged youth. He joined B-ABLE in 2009 as part of the start-up team, setting-up and managing the organization’s first training center. Kaushik is from Hyderabad and has Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from IIT Kharagpur.

Kirti Vardhana

kirtiKirti is the Head of Consulting at LabourNet, which is a social enterprise that enables livelihoods for workers in the informal sector by providing access to training, employment and financial inclusion. In his current role, he leads the development of LabourNet’s products and manages consulting projects within the vocational skills development domain. Kirti is from Bangalore and holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management from Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning.

Manjushree Patil

manjushreeManjushree is a seasoned education professional with more than 20 years of experience. She is the founder of Aatman Academy, a specialized instruction school that caters to the learning needs of students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. She is from Mumbai and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from the SNDT Women’s University along with a Master’s Degree in Teacher Education from IIP Lucknow.

Prerak Mehta

prerakPrerak is an independent research and design consultant working to improve healthcare in rural India through projects in neonatal & maternal healthcare, diabetes, medication adherence and remote diagnostics. He has been working with entrepreneurial as well as established ventures like Embrace, Quetzal, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design and Oracle. Prerak holds a Master’s Degree in Design from IIT Bombay, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Nirma University.

Prerit Rana

preritPrerit is the Co-founder and CEO at Agrasar, an organization committed to sustainable socioeconomic development of marginalized communities through systematically helping them build capacities and realize their true potential through skills development. He is a social development professional with training and capacity building as key focus areas. He is from New Delhi and holds a Master’s Degree in Rural Management from IRMA.

Ramakrishna NK

ramakrishnaRam is the Founder and CEO of Rang De, a platform to support low-income entrepreneurs access low-cost capital for education and health. Prior to starting Rang De, Ram has held various positions in the technology and software development fields. Ram is from Bangalore and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Production Engineering from Nagarjuna University. He is also an Ashoka Fellow.

Rupal Nayar

rupalRupal is the Co-founder of Zaya, a non-profit working to bridge the achievement gap for students in low income schools around the world. Prior to Zaya, Rupal worked as a Business & Strategy Consultant at Bain & Company. Rupal is from New Delhi, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from St. Xaviers College and a Master’s Degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Warwick.

Sapna Surendran

sapnaSapna is a Research Associate with the Columbia Global Centre – South Asia, which supports the Government of India in improving access to quality maternal and child healthcare and strengthens service delivery in rural India. She is from Bangalore and is currently based in Mumbai. Sapna is a dental surgeon from the KLE’s Institute of Dental Sciences, Karnataka and has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Columbia University.

Sathya Raghu

Sathya is tsathyahe Co-founder and CFO at Cosmos Green Pvt Ltd, an organization that works for the emancipation of small and marginal farmers from penury through an inclusive development model of partnership with farmers. His role involves devising the organization’s business strategy for financial sustainability, marketing, and performance monitoring. In addition, Sathya has trained 15,000 students of Chartered Accountancy in Accounting , Auditing & Finance and is a Professor at the Spellbound Centre for Professional Studies, Hyderabad. Sathya is from Hyderabad and is a trained Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants, India.

Vasumathi Kothuru

vasumathiVasumathi is the Vice President at Indian Grameen Services (IGS), BASIX, a micro-banking solutions company with a mission of incubating innovations for pro-poor sustainable livelihoods. Vasumathi has worked in livelihood promotion, micro-banking and agriculture extension services for the past 15 years. She is from Hyderabad, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture and is a Certified Associate of the Indian Institute of Banking (CAIIB).

The India Fellows Program is made possible through the generous support of our partner Dr. Reddy’s Foundation. To learn more about the India Fellows Program, visit our website. We will begin accepting applications for the next class in July 2014.

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