Our Mission

Accelerating economic development in emerging economies through high-value job creation

About Us

Wadhwani Foundation is a not-for-profit with the primary mission of accelerating economic development in emerging economies by driving job creation in India and other emerging economies through large-scale initiatives in entrepreneurship, small business growth, innovation, and skilling. Founded in 2000 by Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Dr Romesh Wadhwani, today the Foundation is scaling impact in 20 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

The Wadhwani Foundation works in partnership with governments, foundations, corporations, and educational institutes through the below Initiatives:

Wadhwani Advantage: Empowering SME entrepreneurs with capabilities to realise their business growth potential through a personalized AI-led acceleration program.

Wadhwani Entrepreneur: Inspires, educates, and enables startup entrepreneurs.

  • Wadhwani Inspire: Establishes a culture of entrepreneurship at a national level
  • Wadhwani NEN: Empowers students with knowledge and skills through Courses, Startup Labs and Practice Ventures to create high-potential startups
  • Wadhwani Venture Fastrack: Empowering entrepreneurs to build scalable and investable startups

Wadhwani Opportunity: Empowering students to command family supporting wages by equipping them with 21st-century employability skills.

Wadhwani Innovate: Accelerates large-scale innovation in academia and industry through innovation grants in partnership with governments and other organizations.

Wadhwani Catalyst Fund, Wadhwani Technology Platform, Wadhwani Academy, Wadhwani Institute of Technology and Policy & Wadhwani Market Research and Policy support the Foundation’s Initiatives.

Dr. Romesh Wadhwani

Founder and Chairman

  • Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist
  • Until 1999, built three successful companies, the last of which was exited at over $9 billion
  • Founding Chairman and CEO of $3.5 billion Symphony Technology Group (1999)
  • Founder and Chairman of Wadhwani Foundation (2000)
  • Founding Chairman of PE firm Symphony AI (2018)
  • Member of the Gates Buffet Giving Pledge
  • Padma Shri 2020 awardee
  • President Obama appointee to the Board of Trustees of the John. F. Kennedy Center
  • Board Member of Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.
Romesh Wadhwani

Meet the Wadhwani Leaders

Ajay Kela

Ajay Kela

President & CEO

Dr. Kela leads the Foundation’s initiatives globally and is driving its expansion across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

  • Expanded Foundation’s initiatives across 20 countries and enabled over $100M of Govt. investment during the past eight years
  • Scaled startup Symphony Services to $175M with eventual exit at $780M
  • Grew AutoCAD business from $170M to $850M during 10 years at Autodesk
  • PhD research on computer graphics lead to multi-million dollar products at GE and Autodesk
  • B-Tech, IIT Bombay, India and Ph.D from University of Rochester, USA
Javir

Javier Campos

Managing Director, Latin America

Based in Mexico City, Javier heads the Foundation’s Latin American Operations.

  • Expanded Schneider Electric CST and Stanley Security operations in Europe, Middle East, and Latin America
  • Multi-million dollar product development of Solid State and Automation Components for Schneider Electric
  • Founder & co-founder of ventures on mobility, health, and energy across markets in Latin America
  • Specialist in global expansion of multi-cultural teams with a focus on talent management across emerging markets
  • Expanded Wadhwani Initiatives to 5-countries in two years
  • Bachelor of Electronic Engineering from Universidad Iberoamericana & Marketing Specialization from ITAM in Mexico
Samir

Samir Sathe

EVP, Wadhwani Advantage

Samir leads the Wadhwani Advantage program in India, focused on accelerating small business revenue and job growth.

  • Advised and executed 200+ engagements for domestic and multinational, small and large businesses, in a diverse set of manufacturing and service industries
  • 25-years of experience in India, Asia, Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore, UK, and US
  • Master's degree in consulting and coaching for change from INSEAD, France
  • Attended ‘Leading Professional Service Firms’ at Harvard Business School and ‘Challenges of Global Poverty’ at MIT
Sunil Dhaiya

Sunil Dahiya

EVP, Wadhwani Opportunity

Sunil leads the Wadhwani Opportunity program in Asia and is expanding its footprint in emerging economies.

  • Undertook multi-initiatives at NIIT:
    • Contributed to building Industry connects for placing 200K students
    • Co-founded a new business venture ‘Stackroute’
    • Led the B2C Digital transformation series
  • 25-Years of experience in vocational training
  • Hons in Economics from Delhi University
Sunita Singh

Sunita Singh

EVP, Wadhwani Foundation and Co-founder, NEN

Sunita drives the Foundation’s global expansion.

  • Co-founded, modeled and led the Foundation’s entrepreneurship education program covering over 500 higher education institutes for over a decade
  • Led and executed the expansion of ‘Wadhwani Entrepreneur College’ and ‘Wadhwani SkillUp’ initiatives across 20-countries and 4-continents in 5-years
  • 25-years of experience with 15-years in leading operations and new market expansions in Asia and Africa
  • Led and executed strategic and creative PR campaigns for several multinational clients including Atos Origin, Lego, Mahindra Intertrade, Baskin Robbins, Netmagic, Mastek, Onward Technologies, TiE for over 3-years at Litmus PR, Mumbai
  • M.A. from Andhra University and MPhil from Sukhadia University

Prakash Kumar

CEO – Wadhwani Institute of Technology and Policy (WITP)

Prakash is working with key govt. departments to transform the Indian govt. and bureaucracy into a world leader in leveraging technology for the public good.

  • Worked for central and state governments in India handling diverse subjects, with e-governance being the common thread
  • Worked with Cisco, Microsoft, Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) and Deloitte, in advising State and Federal Governments on use of technology for improving the delivery of services to people and later for setting up IT infrastructure for implementing GST (VAT) in India for Federal as well as all State Governments
  • B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Kanpur and Master’s Degree from Graduate School of Policy Studies, Saitama University, Japan (now called National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies)

Rajeev Warrier

Senior Vice President - Special Projects

Rajeev is working towards enabling a vibrant Wadhwani Foundation Ecosystem Platform which will connect WF beneficiaries (across the WA, WE and WO Initiatives) to peers, mentors, experts, service providers, customers, and others.

  • A software professional with engineering, business development and management experience in India, Australia, Canada and US
  • Has varied experience in general management, entrepreneurship, information technology, software development, consulting, and planning of technology for enterprise & e-commerce companies
  • BE in Mechanical Engineering from NIT Bhopal and Post Graduate Diploma in Software Enterprise Management from IIM Bangalore
Atul Raja

Atul Raja

EVP, Global Marketing

Atul spearheads marketing activities of Wadhwani Foundation and its Initiatives, globally.

  • Instrumental in launching and managing leading FMCG brands like Airtel, Royal Challenge, Daewoo Matiz, Tata Indicom, Videocon, Sansui and Kenwood
  • 25+ years of cross-industrial marketing experience across leading organizations like Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices, Shaw Wallace, Videocon, Bennett & Coleman, Biocon, and Daewoo Motors
  • An avid writer in leading publications
  • Extensively awarded for marketing initiatives
  • Strategic Marketing, Product Management, and Corporate Branding from Wharton Business School - University of Pennsylvania, Marcus Evans -London, Indian School of Business (ISB)-Hyderabad, Indian Institute of Management -Bangalore (IIMB) and Tata Management Training Centre - Pune (TMTC)
Austin

Austin Thomas

EVP, Impact Measurement and Partnerships

Austin heads Impact Measurement and Partner Development operations at the Foundation.

  • Vice President with Dallas based i2, an SCM application software firm, headed both Solutions and Services business units in U.S and India
  • Leader of i2’s move for offshoring development to its India Center in 2002
  • A management consultant, worked with the World Bank, The Gates Foundation and the Botswana Govt.
  • MBA from University of Chicago, M.S. in IE & OR from Purdue University & B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Bombay
Swati Mittal

Swati Mittal

Chief Financial Officer

Swati is the Chief Financial Officer at the Foundation.

  • Prior stints with Deloitte Haskins and Sells, International Taxation, United Rentals Inc. Corporate Finance, a listed U.S company, and a startup, Rate Integration
  • Chartered Accountant & Certified Public Accountant, from Colorado State
  • B.Com and LLB from Gujarat University
Raghu

Raghu Mallena

Chief Technology Officer

Raghu heads the Foundation’s technology initiatives, globally.

  • CTO and Co-founder of a women’s health startup which scaled to 7M+ app downloads worldwide
  • Started Netapp’s Engineering Center in India and was instrumental in scaling it across multiple functions
  • Leadership roles at global companies like Juniper, Cisco, and Netapp
  • Building an AI-enabled micro-services based tech platform along with a variety of mobile/web products to scale Wadhwani initiatives
  • B.Tech from IIT Madras, India and M.S from University of Wisconsin, Madison
Ratna Mehta - Wadhwani Catalyst Head

Ratna Mehta

EVP, Wadhwani Catalyst Fund

Based out of Mumbai, Ratna heads the Wadhwani Catalyst Fund which will invest in high quality entrepreneurs with scalable business models across emerging markets, with a focus on India. The fund will catalyse businesses across sectors, with the overall objective of accelerating economic development by creating livelihoods / jobs.

  • A private equity investor with 18+ years of experience across investing, consulting and banking
  • Has experience spanning the entire cycle of investing, portfolio turnarounds and exits across multiple investments
  • Prior to joining the Catalyst Fund, she spent over a year at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in strategy consulting
  • Prior to BCG, she was an Executive Director at Everstone Capital, an Asia focused PE fund with over US$ 3 billion in AUM, where she spent 11+ years overseeing investments in consumer, education, financial services and healthcare
  • Her other experiences include:
    • Investment Banking at JP Morgan, covering telecom and media in South East Asia
    • Consulting at Arthur Andersen
  • Ratna is a rank holder Chartered Accountant and has completed all levels of the CFA program (Charlottesville, USA). She has also attended the “Negotiations and Leadership Program” of Harvard Business School
Sameer-Narula | Wadhwani Foundation

Sameer Narula

Chief Product Officer

Sameer spearheads Products and AI-empowered automation for the Foundation.

  • Sameer is a product, technology, and business leader with experience of working with a global set of organizations and ventures including a few of his own
  • He has extensive experience in delivering tech-driven business applications in areas of digital, marketing, retail merchandising, ERP and supply chain for industries like Retail, CPG, Travel & hospitality and Banking
  • His last stint was as CPO at Manthan, a specialist SaaS provider of AI and data analytics powered business applications for retail industry
  • He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from Shivaji University and a Diploma in Entrepreneurial Business Management from IIM Bangalore

Winning Values

Give

Give Forward

-- Wear your passion on your sleeve
-- Give with a smile
-- Share knowledge unselfishly
-- Think Impact, not activity

Group

Together Is Better

-- Partner around purpose
-- Network actively
-- Be super-responsive
-- Reach out; solve together

creativity

Make It Large

-- Think big & beyond
-- Considered risk-taking
-- Embrace agile – test, learn, scale
-- Empower down the line

Shakehand-logo

With You All The Way

-- Proactively engage to support
-- Partner across the life cycle
-- Measure success, assess impact
-- Digital for lifelong engagement

Foundational Values

At Wadhwani Foundation, our six values represent a strong belief in the contribution we are making towards a better future. These values dictate our actions and are based on a framework of passion, commitment, enduring quality and impactful socio-economic delivery.

Innovation

Effective deployment of technology along with new ideas, new possibilities and new ways of working to maximize impact & benefits to our stakeholders

Collaboration

Working with diverse individuals and organizations to achieve common goals and inclusive solutions, in a mutually empowering way

Integrity

Being honest and dedicated with transparency in ownership and communication, and a zeal to meet commitments

Excellence

Driven by high professional standards in delivering quality products and services to our stakeholders

Leadership

Leading with an agile approach to problem-solving and creating a balance between grassroots experience, strategic thinking and policy making

Impact

Creating transformational, sustainable and scalable economic acceleration in emerging economies with high-impact outcomes