By Rebecca Singer
A few weeks ago, I visited a small vegetable farm just outside Bangalore where I met a farmer named Balaji. For the past year, Balaji has used an automated irrigation system by Flybird Farm Innovations that increases…
Villgro is India's foremost social enterprise incubator. We work with early-stage for-profit enterprises that have an impact on the lives of India's poor. Since 2001, Villgro has incubated 109 enterprises, which have generated around 4000 jobs, secured Rs 1125 million in follow-on funding, and touched over 15 million lives. www.villgro.org
PR Ganapathy is President (India), Villgro, and has operational and strategic responsibility for all major programs that make Villgro's vision a reality. In addition to running Villgro’s programmes, Ganapathy directly mentors several social enterprises in the Villgro portfolio, spending significant amounts of time helping entrepreneurs overcome their challenges and scale. He is also actively involved in building the social enterprise ecosystem in India, through organizations like the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, by active participation in various industry bodies and working groups, and by giving inspirational talks at forums like TEDx. Prior to Villgro, Ganapathy co-founded a venture-funded startup and held leadership positions at small and large corporations in India and the US. He has an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, and an Honors degree in Mathematics from Hindu College
Anuja is a professional philanthropic investor with nearly 20 years experience as a funder and social entrepreneur working primarily in the areas of education and healthcare. Her focus has been on increasing the scale and impact of social enterprises through a combination of private sector-style funding, policy & advocacy support, and developing an ecosystem of entrepreneurs. Since moving to India in 2005, Anuja has worked as an independent advisor for social enterprises and large private philanthropies, including those of Dr. Desh Bandhu Gupta, Ramalingu Raju, and the SKS Foundation.
Aditi heads all communications and marketing at Villgro. She has over a decade of experience in mass media and communications, developing strategy, executing multi-media communications, managing various stakeholders, and writing and editing content. Aditi has been a print journalist with mainstream publications – including India Today and DNA (Daily News & Analysis) – where she has written on various subjects, including health and culture, and managed teams involved in editing and production. She has subsequently worked in the non-profit sector, managing and implementing communications for Mumbai Smiles (Sonrisas de Bombay), an international non-profit organisation. She has done her post-graduate studies in Social Communications Media at Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai, and also attended a post-graduate certificate course in Women’s Studies.
Maya has 12 years of experience working across impact, technology and financial services. Most recently, she was at Babajob.com, where she worked across functions - product development, program management, fundraising, marketing and talent.
Siddhartha has done a PGMP in Finance from IBS Mumbai and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Pune University. He has also studied law for two years. Before joining Villgro, he worked with D'essence Consulting, a boutique management consulting firm in Mumbai where he worked very closely with start-up companies on creation of business plans, valuation, fund raising and business strategy formulation. He has also worked with the Bank of New York-Mellon in the Asset Management operations division. As investment manager at Villgro and Menterra, he handles companies in the agriculture portfolio
Ashwin started his career in the semiconductor industry in 1992, working for Intel in Oregon for nearly 9 years. While there, he led cross-site module engineering teams, playing a role in the production scaling of microprocessor manufacturing technologies simultaneously across multiple factories. After nearly 18 years in the semiconductor industry, he moved to Intellectual Ventures (India), working closely with inventors in a range of technology domains. Ashwin has a B.Tech. from IIT-Delhi and an MS from Cornell University, both in Chemical Engineering.
Sudhanshu has over five years of experience working in both private and non-profit sectors. He was a fellow with Teach for India in Pune where he taught Math and Science to grade 4 kids. Prior to his Fellowship he worked with TATA Motors and used to look after after-sales management of commercial vehicles. Sudhanshu has a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering from NIT Warangal and did his Master's in Business Administration from University of Oxford last year. Before moving back to India, he did short term assignments with Acumen, Pakistan and a social finance intermediary called ClearlySo in London. Sudhanshu is an investment manager with Menterra Social Impact Fund and Villgro working with education companies.
Aina Gaur is an investment manager at Villgro and Menterra with a focus on healthcare. She also heads Villgro's BIRAC Social Innovation Immersion Program that supports early stage innovators by providing immersion in primary healthcare settings to identify and innovate solutions for critical needs in healthcare. She advises portfolio companies in developing go-to-market strategy including product development, fundraising, financial compliance and talent management. Previously, Aina worked at Villgro incubatee SustainTech. She has also worked in Texas as a Public Auditor with Ernst & Young LLP. She has a Master’s degree in Public Accounting (Financial Reporting track) and a Bachelors degree in Business Administration both from the University of Texas at Austin. She is also a Certified Professional Accountant.
Ullas is a senior associate in the Unconvention team. He has 10 years of experience as a marketing communications professional. He has written copy for advertising agencies, managed account relationships for a content start-up, mentored a team of business writers and held marketing responsibilities for a globally reputed tech corporation. Ullas holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Bangalore, and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Gujarat University, India.
Dr Gita Arjun, FACOG, is an American Board certified obstetrician and gynaecologist. After completing her residency in the US, she chose to come back to India to work. She retired from active clinical practice in 2013 after 32 years as the Director, and Obstetrician & Gynecologist at E.V. Kalyani Medical Centre, Chennai, India. She has edited two Ob/Gyn text books and co-authored a third. She has also authored a best-selling pregnancy book for Indian women. She is now focusing on social impact projects for global maternal and child health. She has been invited by USAID, GCC, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, to be a member of their final technical review panel for the Saving Lives at Birth Challenge. She is a senior advisor with Villgro
Arun is passionate about solving grass-root problems through technology. While in college, he founded a venture that tackled social education, where more than 10,000 school students were benefited. His interest in healthcare led him into do a post gradation specialized in biomedical engineering, where he gained experience on government funded healthcare projects. He has more than two years’ experience as a patent analyst in the healthcare sector. He also worked with NGOs in maternal and child care and has been selected as a social innovator for a specific program run by BIRAC (a Govt. of India enterprise) in maternal and child healthcare.
KC Bhushan co-founded Cashtech Solutions, a specialist software product organisation. In 2001, Cashtech received funding from Warburg Pincus, a respected venture capitalist and PE firm. Cashtech was acquired by Fundtech Solutions (FNDT) and he exited the business in 2007. In 2005, he also co-founded Samvad HIV Helpline, a service where people could anonymously ask questions about HIV and AIDS. It now operates in Maharashtra and Bihar and is the largest HIV helpline in India. Bhushan is a certified business coach from Coaching Foundation of India (CFI) and has been focused on mentoring various tech B2B companies in the past and is now working with social enterprises. He is a Senior Advisor with Villgro.
Shivi Kapil is a User Experience Designer-Researcher by passion and profession. She has a Masters degree in in User Experience Design from the National Institute of Design. Her skills and interests include leading interaction design for web-based and mobile application projects, working closely with research, visual design and development teams. She is actively involved in User Research and Experience Design for Indian and global Healthcare problems. Shivi has four years of work experience in Medical Technologies for private and public settings mainly in four sectors - mother and child care, oncology, cardiology and family planning. She is a winner of the of the USAID grand challenge in CAMTech Jugadathon June 2015 and a Fellow for IDDS program run by MIT D Lab in July 2015.
Passionate about accessible healthcare Siddharth got involved with his start-up, Fyrsta Innovations, in 2012. At Fyrsta, he was involved in design and development of medical devices and had successfully developed the product ReLive, an innovative tool for chronic pain management. The device was an IoT based system for physical rehabilitation and works on the principle of tele-medicine. He is a keen researcher and aims to develop cost-effective and innovative engineering designs. He has a Post Graduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from College of Engineering, Guindy (Anna University). Siddharth is a Villgro Fellow working on product design and development at Aindra Systems, a Villgro portfolio company.
At Villgro, Kavita works on the incubation and investment team. Her work over the past year has been primarily with companies that are in the early stages of product or service development. She also leads Villgro's work in education incubation.
Ria has a B.Tech and M.Tech in Biotechnology Engineering from KIIT University, Odisha. While working with various organizations like SIFE, NSS, Bakul Foundation during her graduation, she was drawn to creating solutions with impact. Ria has worked in bioprocessing – marine bioprocessing to extract edible proteins, and weed management to extract polymers for low-cost sanitary napkins. At Nofima AS, Norway, she worked on protein extraction from food by-products. She is passionate about charcoal sketching and travelling.
Thuy is an explorer and a business consultant dedicated to helping organizations, companies and enterprises in emerging and frontier markets to achieve social and economical values through strategic management tools and human centric solutions. She's had experiences consulting for small medium businesses in the US, multinational and state-owned companies in Ghana, and the Nigerian government in areas of management, agribusiness, and capital market surveillance. Previously, she worked in leading banks in Vietnam where she developed acquisition strategies for credit card business and delivered high quality global custody services for corporate clients and fund managers. Thuy holds an MBA with finance focus from California State University, Fullerton. She comes from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where she received her BA degree in International Economics at Foreign Trade University. She has recently helped launch a travel mobile app for a new start-up in San Francisco. She works with Villgro Incubatee Artoo as a Business Development Manager.
Nachiket has a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering and a Master’s in Industrial Management, from Clemson University, USA). He worked at Intel Corporation in California as a Business Operations Analyst. He was also involved with volunteering initiatives at Association for India’s Development (AID) and International Rescue Committee (IRC), which made him decide to transition into the world of Economic Development and Public Policy. Nachiket worked as a social impact fellow with Villgro’s Knowledge Management programme, before joining Villgro incubatee Sustaintech where he handles operations.
A.B.Chakravarthy has been a part of Villgro's incubation team since 2009. He has worked on origination, investments and incubation of early-stage ventures in agriculture, energy, livelihoods, technology for impact and healthcare with a focus on the agriculture sector. This includes the identification over 50 ventures in agriculture, due diligence and closure of three investments and incubation of three ventures. He also has worked on creating strategic relationships in the agriculture sector and devised the agriculture investment strategy.
Paul handles the health incubation work at Villgro. He joined Villgro after spending five months working as an MBAs Without Borders Advisor to Villgro incubatee Sustaintech, during which time he helped the company with business development and internal information flow. Paul holds an MBA from Penn State's Smeal College of Business during which time he was the President of the Net Impact chapter there. Prior to completing his MBA he worked for five years as a mechanical engineer designing capital equipment for the paper industry. Much of this time was spent working on a number of new product development project teams. Paul also participated in and led multiple internal process improvement teams. Paul completed a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Gonzaga University during which he spent one year living in Florence, Italy.
Mohan handles operations for Villgro’s Unconvention|L events across India and strategises for and executes the Unconvention|Speaker Series in Chennai which aims to build and foster a vibrant community of social entrepreneurs. He previously worked in Berlin for Siemens Energy sector in the global footprint project team. He has a Master’s degree in Power Engineering with a specialisation in renewable energy from Technical University – Cottbus (Germany). He has also worked with the IIT-Madras research team on developing solar-powered applications.
Raghavendra is a mechanical engineering graduate from National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur (India). He has over six years work experience in management consulting in areas such as business transformation and strategy across sectors. Having worked in companies like Capgemini Consulting, Datamonitor and Evalueserve, he was looking for a move into the development sector, to work in a environment that was challenging and put him at the forefront of social impact. He works as a Business and Supply Chain Manager with OneBreath.
Yamini has worked as a corporate lawyer at the law firm Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co for six years. She has also worked on issues relating to trade and development as a researcher at the Centre for Trade and Development. She has earned a BA, LL.B (Hons) degree from the National Law School of India University and LL.M from the Georgetown University Law Center. She is interested in exploring the social enterprise sector and will be working as a Legal and Business Associate with Villgro’s Incubation team.
As part of Villgro, Michelle Abraham has played an active role in building the social enterprise eco-system in India. As co-founder of Unconvention (www.unconvention.co.in), launched in 2009, she has helped it grow into one of the premier Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship platforms in India. She has also spearheaded Wantrapreneur – a social business plan competition to unearth startup & early growth social businesses. Prior to Villgro, she worked with AMS Consulting Pvt. Ltd where she evaluated & monitored the Rural Development Programmes of 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh. She has also worked with an international funding agency – Aide et Action, where she was responsible for establishment of vocational education centers in North India. She is a postgraduate in Forestry Management from Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal.
Sonia Oprean has a Bachelors degree in Economics and has experience in financial services and management consulting. She worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Romania, on engagements across a variety of industries and was the Project Manager for establishing a legal process outsourcing company from ground zero in the Philippines. She joins the Villgro Fellowship with the purpose of pursuing a more impactful career path and is working as a Business Development Manager, Skillveri.
Ngoc has been a social entrepreneur, market expansion consultant, art curator and non-profit leader. An early leader in the economic empowerment non-profit SIFE local chapter, and later with the Vietnam-based social enterprise Regina Coffee, she loves challenging herself in formulating strategies for growth of the BoP. Most recently, Ngoc founded ‘50 cent breakfast’ project connecting agricultural value chain partners to solve food insecurity problems in urban slums. The project won the runner-up Hult Prize Asia-Pacific ’13, and was honored by Clinton Global Initiatives. Ngoc holds a bachelor’s degree in International Business.
Hang Vo graduated from Foreign Trade University with Bachelor Degree on International Business. In the last three years, she has been involving in development work with both non-profit and for-profit landscapes. Her first engagement in the development sector was with a social enterprise named Regina Coffee, following which she then initiated Cuon Delight and 50 cent Breakfast projects, all in Vietnam. Hang sees an opportunity to learn from as well as to contribute to Villgro in the quest for creating a functioning ecosystem to unlock the BOP market. She is working on Villgro’s initiative to scale its incubation model to Vietnam.
With a Master's in Mechanical Engineering from Santa Clara University, Mike Sizemore has been working with sustainable energy technology since 2008. His past 4 years have been spent developing a Passive Unitized Regenerative Fuel Cell system for off-grid energy storage. This technology was specifically designed to solve the energy storage problem for intermittent sustainable energy sources. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, USA he enjoys dance and baseball among many things. As a 2014-15 Villgro Fellow, he will work as a Product Design Associate with Ecozen Solutions.
Paul Basil is Founder and CEO of Villgro. He founded Villgro in 2001 with the mission of incubating early-stage, innovative businesses. He has since worked in discovering thousands of innovations and innovators, and incubated around 100 businesses.
Priya heads the Villgro Fellowship programme. She has worked in public policy and international development for the past seven years in various management and research roles. Before joining Villgro, she worked as a public policy practitioner in New Delhi with PRS Legislative Research, working closely with Members of Parliament, leading a national legislative assistants Fellowship, where she managed and trained Fellows, developed the program design, ran national level publicity and recruitment. Prior to that, Priya worked in London as a researcher and campaigner against arms trade, and as a consultant with a DFID project. She has also worked as a journalist in Bangalore. She has an MA in International Relations from the University of Warwick, a post graduate diploma in Human Rights Law and a diploma in Journalism.
Wilfred has worked in the tech startup scene for almost two years now, both in Jordan and Kenya. His passion for Impact Business startups came while he was pitching a traffic crowd- sourcing app idea in Jordan. Then it hit him that the app could be used for many other community initiatives like reporting on health and sanitation issues, environmental degradation, weather etc. He wants to use this opportunity to gain hands-on experience in his new career path as a social entrepreneur. As a Villgro Fellow, Wilfred worked on the Scale initiative and is now working to replicate Villgro's incubation model in Kenya