Our Mission

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

About Us

Wadhwani Foundation’s primary mission is accelerating economic development in emerging economies by driving large-scale job creation through entrepreneurship, innovation and skills development. Founded in 2000 by Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, today the Foundation is scaling impact in 25 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America through the following Initiatives.

Wadhwani Advantage: Helps Startups and SMEs establish a hyper-growth path by providing personalized, on-demand knowledge and consulting resources through an AI-enabled mobile platform.

Wadhwani Entrepreneur: Empowers and supports early-stage entrepreneurs.

  • Wadhwani Venture Fastrack: Maximizes success rates of early-stage startups
  • Wadhwani NEN: Empowers students with knowledge and skills to create high-potential startups thereby leading to high-value job creation
  • Wadhwani Inspire: Establishes a nationwide culture of entrepreneurship

Wadhwani Innovate: Accelerates world-class innovation and catalyzes critical sectors in emerging economies through their local scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs.

Wadhwani Opportunity: Helps students with 21st Century employability skills that drive family supporting wages.

Wadhwani AI: A research institute and global hub, developing AI solutions for social good.

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 (2003)
  • Founding Chairman of PE firm Symphony AI (2018)
  • Member of the Gates Buffet Giving Pledge
  • 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.

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
Hesham

Hesham Abdelghaffar

Head, MENA and Turkey

Based in Cairo, Hesham heads the Foundation's operations in MENA and Turkey.

  • Corporate CXO for regional conglomerate groups and multinational companies expanding in Middle East and Africa
  • Co-founded a 100M angel investment group investing pre-seed and seed funding in tech and tech-enabled MENA region startups
  • Established and exited 3-companies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and US, and co-founded NGO and PPP organizations
  • 20+ years as serial entrepreneur, corporate executive and leader of the Communication and Information Technology (CIT) sector in Middle East and Africa
  • MSc in E Commerce from Middlesex University, London
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Cairo University, Egypt
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Oludare Kodaolu

Regional Head, West Africa

Based in Lagos, Nigeria, Dare leads the Foundation’s West Africa Operations.

  • Founder/Chairman of Primestone Hotel and Suites Limited and Co-founder of Contpallet Logistics Solution Ltd
  • Diverse management experience of 25+ years in FMCG, Banking, Telecom, and Oil & Gas sectors in organizations like UAC of Nigeria PLC, Cadbury Nigeria PLC, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Conoil PLC, Globacom and Achilles Group Ltd (UK) where he was Managing Director for the Nigerian subsidiary
  • A passionate entrepreneur with business interests in Agriculture, Marketing Communication, Telecom, Petroleum marketing, and hospitality businesses
  • B.Sc. in Food Science and Technology from the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, MBA from Delta State University, M.Sc. in Financial Management from University of London
  • MCIM (UK), MCIPS (UK) and MIoD. An alumnus of Lagos Business School, CEP24 Class, and IESE Business School, AMP/CEP Program

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

Monica Mehta

EVP, Wadhwani Entrepreneur

Monica leads the Wadhwani Entrepreneur Initiative of the Foundation covering both the Wadhwani Entrepreneur College and the Wadhwani Venture Fastrack Programs.

  • Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a Director at Omidyar Network, where she lead the education/skilling investments as well as grants in India
  • Has been a Founding Partner at Kaizen Private Equity, a $70 mn Fund, where she led investments to the tune of $25 mn in the education and skilling sector
  • An education entrepreneur from 2000-2009
  • An MBA from Thunderbird, The Global School of Management, Arizona State University, AZ, USA
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

Financial Controller

Swati is the Financial Controller 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

Mahendra Jain

Head, Wadhawni Invent India

Mahendra heads the Foundation’s Invent initiative.

  • Extensive experience in creating and leading R&D and commercialization programs, grants and contracts management, development of IPR, technology transfer and economic development programs like SBIR/STTR in the U.S
  • Instrumental in designing, establishing and leading the Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation where he developed the Kentucky SBIR program from scratch
  • Has one Canadian and twelve U.S patents to his credit along with numerous research papers, articles and book chapters
  • Has received several awards for his contribution to the SBIR space including the ‘Tibbetts Award’, ‘Small Business Advocacy Lifetime Achievement Award’ and ‘SBIR Person of the Year Award’
  • Ph.D in Microbiology
Jayant Krishna

Jayant Krishna

Executive Director, Public Policy

Jayant heads the Foundation’s public policy initiatives involving economic reforms intended at job-creation in India.

  • As CEO, Executive Director & COO of the National Skill Development Corporation, led key initiatives of the Prime Minister’s Skill India Mission
  • Supported few key economic reforms in India & served on various Government committees / task forces as Chairperson / Member on governance issues
  • Championed Indian apprenticeship reforms and served as Chairman of the Government of India’s Taskforce on Apprenticeship Rationalisation
  • At Tata Consultancy Services, served as Director, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Europe; Regional Director, UK & Ireland; Global Delivery Centre Head; and Global Relationship Manager for one of its top-5 strategic accounts worldwide
  • Executed World Bank and UNICEF-funded management consulting interventions for various governments at a division of Tata Sons
  • Chaired CII’s India@75 Taskforce on Skills & Entrepreneurship
  • Awarded the prestigious British Chevening Scholarship by the UK Government
  • Adjunct Professor at IIT Kanpur; teaches at IIM Lucknow as visiting faculty & JIM as Distinguished Professor
  • APJ Abdul Kalam Award for Innovation in Governance

Pavan Batchu

Chief Product Officer

Based in Bangalore, Pavan leads the Foundation’s Product team.

  • Extensive experience of 25 years in the software technology industry
  • As the Chief Product Officer at Edlio (a private equity backed Ed-tech company in California), he managed Edlio CMS (content management system) and Sangha school parent engagement platform (a startup he co-founded that was acquired)
  • Led product efforts that monetized Microsoft-Skype’s across all platforms with display ads
  • Managed Yahoo’s big data pipelines for their display advertising marketplaces
  • Co-founder of Phulaxis, an enterprise risk and compliance software startup which was acquired by Agiliance
  • Product Management in Oracle’s ERP division
  • BE in Mechanical Engineering from Marathwada University, MS in Manufacturing Management from University of Toledo, Ohio and MBA from University of California at Berkeley

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

Winning Values

Give Forward

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

Together Is Better

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

Make It Large

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

With You All The Way

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