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 2003 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 AdvantageEmpowers businesses with capabilities to maximise their growth potential.

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

  • Wadhwani Inspire: Establishes a culture of entrepreneurship at a national level
  • Wadhwani NEN: Empowers professionals, post-college, college and pre-college students with knowledge and skills to create high-potential startups
  • Wadhwani Venture Fastrack (VFT): Empowers entrepreneurs and incubators to build successful and scalable startups

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

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

Wadhwani Catalyst Fund (WCF), Wadhwani Institute of Technology and Policy (WITP) and Wadhwani Technology Platform 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
  • Founder and Chairman of Wadhwani Foundation (2003)
  • 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

Board of Advisors – Global

Romesh-Wadhwani

Dr. Romesh Wadhwani

Founder and Chairman, Wadhwani Foundation

  • 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
  • Founder and Chairman of Wadhwani Foundation (2003)
  • 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.
Ajay Kela

Ajay Kela

President & CEO, Wadhwani Foundation

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

Board of Advisors – India

Harsh-Mariwala

Harsh Mariwala

Chairman, Marico Limited

  • Harsh Mariwala leads Marico Limited as its Chairman. He is also Chairman & Managing Director of Kaya Limited.
  • Over the past three decades, Harsh Mariwala has transformed a traditional commodity-driven business into a leading consumer products and services company in the Beauty and Wellness space. From a turnover of INR 50 Lakhs in 1971, Marico generated a market capitalization of INR 42,089 crore on March 31, 2018. Further, the skincare and solutions business under Kaya generated a turnover of INR 400 crores for FY 2017-18.
  • Harsh Mariwala’s established the Marico Innovation Foundation in 2003. The Foundation acts as a catalyst to fuel innovation in India.
  • Harsh Mariwala started ASCENT in 2012 to create a unique trust-based peer-to-peer platform for high potential growth-stage entrepreneurs that leverage the “power of the collective” and enables them to share and exchange experiences, ideas, insights and create a healthy ecosystem to learn from each other and grow their enterprise.
  • He also founded the Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI) in 2015, a leading funding body in the field of mental health in India.
  • Under Harsh Mariwala’s leadership, Marico & Kaya have received more than 280 awards in the last few years.
  • Harsh was the President of The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in 2011. He has served as a Non-Executive Director to many leading companies. He is also a part of the Young President Organization (YPO) and World Presidents Organization (WPO).
  • He has a degree in commerce from Sydenham College in Mumbai.
Sanjeev-B

Sanjeev Bikhchandani

Founder & Vice Chairman, Naukri.com

  • Sanjeev is the founder of Naukri.com, India’s leading job site. The company also runs Jeevansathi.com, 99acres.com, and Shiksha.com. In addition, it has made strategic investments in promising web start-ups such as Zomato, Policybazaar, Shopkirana and Ustraa.
  • In 1997 the company launched Naukri.com and transformed itself into an Internet company. Starting off from a servant quarter above a garage and seed capital of two thousand rupees, the company grew and attracted investment from leading venture capitalists. It was the first Internet company to list on Indian stock exchanges. Today The company employs over 4000 people and has a market capitalization of over USD 3.0 bill.
  • Prior to starting Naukri, Sanjeev had worked in advertising with Lintas and in consumer marketing at Glaxo SmithKline.
  • He along with his partner Hitesh Oberoi won the “Ernst and Young – Entrepreneur of the Year” award in 2008 for Business Transformation. He also won the Dataquest Pathbreaker Award & the Teacher’s Achievement Award for Business in the same year.
  • In 2011 he was conferred the Distinguished Alumnus award by IIM Ahmedabad and in 2012 he was honoured with the CF Andrews Distinguished Alumnus award by St. Stephen’s College. In April 2017, Outlook Magazine selected him as one of India’s fifty greatest CEO’s ever.
  • He is a member of the Board of the Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship at IIM Ahmedabad.
  • Sanjeev has served as the President of the Delhi chapter of TiE [The Indus Entrepreneurs]. He has also served as a member of the Global Board of Trustees of TiE. He serves on the National Council of AIMA. He has been Chair of the Internet Council of NASSCOM.
  • Sanjeev is a founding trustee of Ashoka University. He has also served on the expert committee for the SIDBI Fund of Funds for startups.
  • Sanjeev obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from St. Stephen College, Delhi University and a PGDM from IIM-Ahmedabad.
K-Ganesh_Chairman-Co-Founder-Portea-Medical

Ganesh Krishnan

Chairman, Portea Medical

  • Ganesh is a successful serial entrepreneur. He currently runs GrowthStory.in, a leading venture builder platform that promotes and incubates new ventures along with great entrepreneurs.
  • GrowthStory has promoted leading companies like BigBasket, BlueStone, Portea Medical, HomeLane, FreshMenu, HungerBox, Housejoy and Verloop.
  • His last venture, TutorVista was acquired by US and UK listed education leader Pearson for $ 213 MM.
  • Previously, Ganesh was the chairman of data analytics BPO firm Marketics, the company was acquired by NYSE-listed WNS. His previous venture, CustomerAsset, was started in mid-2000 and later acquired by ICICI and is now publicly listed in India as First Source Solutions.
  • In 1990, he founded his first company - IT&T, one of India’s top multi-vendor IT service and support company. The business was acquired by iGate (a listed company) in 2003.
  • Ganesh has also worked as the CEO of Wipro/Bharti British Telecom – a British Telecom JV in India, and held a senior management position in HCL Ltd.
  • He is also a popular speaker in entrepreneurship, start-up and technology events and has been recognized as one of the "Iconic Entrepreneurs of India" in a document published by National Knowledge Commission, GOI.
  • Ganesh is a post-graduate from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Delhi University.
Pramod Bhasin

Pramod Bhasin

Chairman, Clix Capital Services

Pramod is the former President & CEO, GE Capital India & Asia, and Founder of Genpact Ltd.

  • Pramod’s has a global professional and entrepreneurial career in Financial Services and Business Process Management
  • He was the President & CEO of GE Capital in India from 1994 to 2005, and GE Capital Asia from 1998 to 2001. At GE Capital India, he was the founder of their Financial Services business and also built the joint venture with the State Bank of India in credit cards (known as SBI Cards) and with HDFC Ltd. in Consumer Finance, apart from GE Capital itself. He worked extensively with the State Bank of India to launch and grow the Cards business from inception, and help build its foundations and future success
  • Pramod is the Founder and Pioneer of the Business Process Industry in India. He founded Genpact in 1996 (as a subsidiary of GE Capital, India) and built it from start into a Global business that currently spans 20+ countries and employs 80,000 people. He led Genpact from inception and took it to IPO on NYSE in 2005 and ran it as a US listed public company until 2011. Under his leadership, Genpact also pioneered this industry in Easter Europe, China and Latin America. Genpact currently has a market capitalization of approximately $8 billion and revenues of over $3 billion
  • Prior to GE Capital India, he was based in Stanford CT, USA with GE & GE Capital for 10 years and in London for 5 years
  • Pramod is currently the Chairman of Clix Capital, a Financial Services Business in India focused on providing digital platforms and financial services to consumers and small businesses. Clix Capital is the former GE Capital entity in India which was acquired by a consortium of partners including himself and AION, the private equity firm
  • He is the co-founder of Asha Impact, an organisation focused on Social Impact Investments and Advocacy in key areas such as Education, Waste Management, Healthcare and Financial Inclusions. He is also a strategic advisor to Kedaara, a private equity firm and has founded the Skills Academy, that focuses on vocational skills for the under privileged
  • He sits on the Governing Board of Help Age India, The Indian Council of Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), Vishwas, an NGO for handicapped children amongst others. He currently serves on the Board of DLF Ltd., and in the past, has served on the Board of Bank of India. He has also been the Chairman of Nasscom and was voted IT Man of the Year by DataQuest, and Manager of the Year by EY & Co.
  • Pramod is a Chartered Accountant (England & Wales) by profession and an alumni of Shri Ram College of Commerce
PC-Musthafa

Musthafa P.C

CEO & Co-founder, iD Fresh Food

Musthafa is the CEO & Co-founder of iD Fresh Food.

  • Musthafa PC’s love for traditional Indian food complements his penchant for technology and innovation. In 2005, he joined hands with four of his cousins in Bengaluru to start iD Fresh Foods.
  • PC was born and brought up in a remote village in Wayanad district of Kerala, where his father worked as a daily wage labourer. His humble beginnings strengthened his social consciousness and resolve to help build a world, where everyone has equal opportunities.
  • He spent initial years of his career at top MNCs in India and abroad, becoming an entrepreneur was a natural progression for PC. His aim was to provide employment opportunities to aspirants from rural India.
  • With iD Fresh Food, PC’s endeavour was to make fresh, home-made food accessible to one and all. In 2005, the company was the first in India to promote authentic Indian foods that are 100% natural and preservative-free. It currently operates in 24 cities across India and the UAE.
  • As the brain behind India’s largest fresh food brand, PC has been lauded with many prestigious awards, such as the Forbes Tycoons of Tomorrow, India Today Make in India Award, JCI National Award, Vocational Excellence Award and Entrepreneur India Award, IIMB distinguished Alumni award, to name a few.
  • PC is part of Indian Philanthropy Initiative, he works closely with Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV) for the welfare of Army Martyrs’ kin. He is also part of the Prime Minister’s ‘Champions of Change’ team with a vision to build a new India by 2022.
  • A school dropout, who went on to do his Engineering in Computer Science from NIT Calicut and MBA from IIM-Bangalore.

Meet the Wadhwani Leaders

Ajay Kela

Ajay Kela

President & CEO, Wadhwani Foundation

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
Sanjay-Shah

Sanjay Shah

Chief Operating Officer, India/SE Asia

Based out of Bangalore, Sanjay heads the India/SEA operations of the Wadhwani Foundation.

  • Over three decades of experience in founding and steering software product companies to the global market
  • Founded Zapty, Instavans Logistics, Skelta, Everest Software and Accel Computers, some of which were successfully acquired
  • Last stint was with iManage as its Managing Director for Asia responsible for business development of its solutions in Asia
  • On the board of Sasken Technologies and Instavans Logistics as an Independent Director, and on the advisory board of Avo Automation
  • Member of iSpirt (Indian Software Product Industry Round Table), Young President’s Organization, and currently on the board of the Bangalore chapter
  • M.S. in Computer Science from Virginia Tech and a B.Tech in Aeronautical Engineering from IIT, Bombay
Javir

Javier Campos

EVP, 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

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)
Samir

Samir Sathe

EVP, Wadhwani Advantage

Samir leads the Wadhwani Advantage program in India, Egypt and provides Global mentorship to the Advantage program, focused on accelerating small business revenue and job growth. In addition, he leads the effort of Academy in building Do it Yourself consulting tools. He also leads Talent Acquisition function at the Foundation.

  • 28 years of experience in India, Asia, Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore, UK, and US in doing change management. He is a ‘Master in Change’ from INSEAD, France
  • Attended ‘Leading Professional Service Firms’ at Harvard Business School and ‘Challenges of Global Poverty’ at MIT
  • An author, speaker, disruptive thought leader and practitioner of management science to bring about systemic change in entrepreneurial leadership
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

Rajeev Warrier

EVP, Wadhwani Entrepreneur

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
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
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 invests in high quality entrepreneurs with scalable business models and programs, with the overall objective of accelerating economic development by creating livelihoods / jobs

  • A private equity investor with 20 years of experience across growth/ buyout and early 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 was with 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
  • She has been on the board of various portfolio companies, driving overall strategy and growth. She is also a board advisor to various start-ups and an active member of various entrepreneurship networks.
    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. She was chosen as the “Top 20 digital influencer of 2020” by leading news portal, Yourstory.

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