ACUMEN India Fellows 2019


Arshiya is Founder of Black Baza Coffee, an organization that works to empower smallholder coffee growers to conserve biodiversity and engage in markets on their own terms. Prior to founding Black Baza Coffee, Arshiya worked at policy and advocacy organization Kalpavriksh, where her work focused on the recognition of the rights of forest-dwelling communities in India. Arshiya holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Cambridge, UK.

Ayushi is Co-founder of The Gender Lab, which works to build gender equality across rural and urban India by enabling school children and young people to question the gender narrative they exist in. She makes this happen by engaging them in social action in their communities, which shifts their mindsets, behaviors, and actions. She dreams of bringing this opportunity to people from across the world. Ayushi is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and has been a G(irls)20 Ambassador since 2015.

Disha headsKhabar Lahariya, India’s only all-women rural news channel, which recently went digital and video-first. Disha trains and mentors disadvantaged women from remote villages of north India to be professional journalists and produce local news in their languages, from their unique perspective. Disha enjoys travelling to far-flung locations, reporting and writing, and imagining how a small and radical media house can change the world. She has a master’s degree in gender studies from the University of Warwick.

Gitanjali is Program Head (Delhi) for HAUSLA at Centre for Equity Studies and Association for Rural and Urban Needy, running interventions including specialized shelters, and building knowledge to support access to healthcare and other citizenship rights for and with the urban homeless community. Her previous work has been as a researcher on issues of legal justice. She holds a masters in Dalit and tribal social work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and a bachelors in psychology from Wesleyan University.

Lakshmi is Chief Operating Officer at Hasiru Dala Innovations (HDI), a social enterprise focused on creating better livelihoods for wastepickers through inclusive businesses that have an environmental impact. As part of the core team, she works towards creating awareness and opportunities to integrate wastepickers into mainstream solid waste management. Prior to HDI, she worked in the semiconductor industry for more than 12 years. She believes that solutions are sustainable when they are people-centric, pragmatic, and are co-created with the beneficiaries.

Mohammad Innus is Director of Deshpande Foundation’s Agriculture Initiatives, an organization that works to bring prosperity for farmers through entrepreneurship and innovation in India. His passion to work for the community and the need to co-create sustainable solutions for farming has helped to impact 70,000 farmers by increasing their income generation. A first generation graduate in his family, he holds a master’s degree in political science.

Nidhi is a second-generation entrepreneur. She recently rejoined the education division of her family’s business and now runs Munnar Catering College, a private hotel management institute that trains 1,000 students a year from middle and low-income families. Nidhi holds a master’s in business administration from Oxford University, where she focused on social enterprises. After studying at Oxford, she worked on creating sustainable vocational training models and new training pedagogies with Pratham Education Foundation in Mumbai.

Nivedita manages Gudi Mudi Khadi, the flagship project of WomenWeave Charitable Trust, an organization that aims at providing dignified livelihood to women weavers, spinners and ancillary workers. WW’s mission is to overcome vulnerability of women artisans and works towards making handloom a profitable, fulfilling, and life-improving activity. Prior to joining WomenWeave, Nivedita was pursuing her post-graduate diploma in rural management from Institute of Rural Management, Anand.

Dr. Prahalathan is Co-Founder of Bhumi, one of India’s largest youth volunteering organizations. Bhumi mobilizes citizens to work towards sustainable development goals, and its volunteers educate more than 25,000 underprivileged children to work for causes like environment, disability, and animal welfare. He strongly believes every child deserves quality education and is passionate about making volunteering a habit among young people. At Bhumi, he leads many of the organization’s events and fundraising programs.

Praveen leads the strategy office of Central Square Foundation, an organization focused on system reform in education, and is currently helping to set up new organizations focused on economic development and improving talent in the social sector with leading philanthropist Ashish Dhawan. Prior to this, Praveen was working with India’s Central Government on the implementation of key strategic projects and scaling up successful practices from NGOs and government. He is a Young India Fellow and a Teach for India Fellow.

R K Paul Chawang is Founder-cum-Secretary of AMYAA NGO, an organization in the most remote part of East Arunachal Pradesh. AMYAA works in the areas of livelihood promotion, education, skills development and environmental protection for development of tribal poor with special attention towards the most vulnerable groups of the society. Paul works to redefine the lives of the rural poor through digital connection by utilizing modern technology through blended learning. Paul holds a master’s degree in social work from Loyola College, Chennai.

Ravish is Founder of SumArth, a social enterprise that helps marginal, small holder farmers from underdeveloped regions earn a sustainable, recurring and profitable income. Farmers get end-to-end training and support to grow high-value, in-demand crops coupled with seasonal revenue through allied activities. Trained in permaculture, Ravish works on promoting sustainable farming through marketing exercises. He holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati and a master’s in business administration from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Rewaj is Co-Founder and CEO of Sikkim Entrepreneurs’ Hub, creating a robust startup ecosystem in Sikkim. He is also Founder of NE Taxi and runs a coworking space in Gangtok. Rewaj is one of the few TEDx Speakers from North-East India and the first to make it to a Forbes list. He was conferred with Sikkim’s Highest Civilian Award 2018 for his exemplary contribution to Entrepreneurship in Sikkim. Rewaj graduated in Forestry from North-Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology.

Sajad works with Video Volunteers, an international community media organization which trains people from marginalized communities in filmmaking and journalism. Video Volunteers, using low-budget technology, exposes corruption and highlights issues often neglected by mainstream media through hyper-localized media, and mobilizes activism to resolve issues with the help of local authorities and communities. Sajad holds a master’s in mass communication and journalism from Kashmir University and has built KashmirUnheard, an independent community news network in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sandeep is Co-Founder of Bombay Bijlee, a social enterprise based in Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, providing affordable and highly reliable access to clean energy to rural Indian households. Their product “Bijlee Boqx” — a solar energy harvester, storage and delivery device — uses a “Pay As You Go” model to reach low-income customers. Its self-diagnostic and backend software can detect faults in the system and send an automatic SMS alert to the local technician, providing proactive and prompt service to the beneficiaries.

Sanket is Senior Program Officer at Lend-A-Hand India, which focuses on improving the quality of India’s public education system at scale. Sanket provides project management support for implementation of skill education programs in more than 500 government schools from 13 states. He is also working towards creating proof points of quality vocational education program in multiple states. His decade-long experience includes nonprofits as well as corporate foundations such as Tata Power, Teach For India, and Thermax Foundation.

Satyendra is Co-Founder and Director at Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion. The organization is concerned with deepening democracy and developing our body politic by building excitement around marginalized children and young people for their social, economic and cultural (SEC) rights. Satyendra has completed his studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Tata Institute of Social Sciences with more than 12 years of working and networking experiences with Dalit human rights, especially with young people and children in India and abroad.

Shikhar is Partner/Chief Learning Officer at ConveGenius, an organization reducing the Information Poverty gap. He is equipping large nonprofits in India with contextual learning data for their students and in the future and envisions working across sectors to provide community-driven data for healthcare, jobs, and government programs. A Computer Science graduate from Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad, he previously founded a nonprofit to rescue girls from trafficking and educate children in shelters.

Shruti is Program Associate at Vitamin Angels, an organization providing lifesaving vitamins to mothers and children at risk of malnutrition. As part of a five-member cross-functional team, Shruti oversees the programmatic implementation of the micronutrient grant program that reaches 12.5 million children through over 500 NGO partners and eight state governments across India. She holds a master’s degree in health policy, planning, and financing from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and London School of Economics.

Shwetambera manages TRANScend, an initiative by The Humsafar Trust aimed to enhance inclusion of transgender individuals in India through research and intervention into the socio-economic needs of the communities, capacity building of transgender community organizations, and sensitization of corporates, educational institutions, and other stakeholders. Prior to TRANScend, Shwetambera handled SAHYOG, a project aimed to address gaps in the National HIV program. She holds a master’s degree in development studies from the University of Manchester.

Vaibhav is State Programme Officer, Chhattisgarh for Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme, an initiative of Ministry of Home Affairs that works towards the overall development of districts affected by extremism. Prior to living in Chhattisgarh, Vaibhav worked for more than four years in Jammu and Kashmir advocating for the betterment of education with UNICEF support to J&K government and as Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow in Bandipore district of north Kashmir. Vaibhav holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

Vivek is Co-Founder and CEO of Kshamtalaya Foundation, an organization supporting communities to revive the spirit of learning in and outside of schools. Core to the organization’s program is a curriculum that provides space for self-directed learning, systems thinking, and mindfulness. Its learning manifesto and learning festivals aim to make education a community agenda. Vivek is also interested in using mindfulness and system thinking in theatre. He is an Engineer, a graduate of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and alumnus of the Gandhi Fellowship program.

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