Prema Gopalan

Synergos Senior Fellow & Founder, Swayam Shikshan Prayog

Ms. Prema Gopalan is the Founder and Executive Director of Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP –www.swayamshikshanprayog.org), a learning and development organization that stands for self-education for empowerment through experimentation. They work in Maharashtra, Bihar, Kerala, Odisha, Assam, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu districts in India and targets most vulnerable households (elderly, disabled, single women/widows) and women’s collectives from marginal farmer families. The organisation has empowered over 200,000 women as entrepreneurs, farmers and community leaders in the last 20 years. SSP stimulates enabling business environments for both rural women and global companies in “Base of the Pyramid” markets. Its bouquet of incubation and business development services aligns networks of women entrepreneurs, village institutions, and corporations to launch profitable enterprises that are governed by a triple bottom line: financial, environmental, social.

Ms. Gopalan has made a long-standing contribution to the global networks and discussions in the areas of building pro-poor community resilience to disasters and climate change, and empowerment of women’s networks to address poverty and inequality. One of her most recent key contribution was to leverage rural women’s perspectives and decision-making as key to renewable energy, water and health value chains with the corporate sector, financial institutions, UNDP, and the World Bank. She is the long-time advisor on community resilience in global networks like the Huairou Commission, and was the recipient of the Schwab Foundation's Outstanding Social Entrepreneur Award of the Year 2019, UNDP’s Equator Prize 2017 and UNFCCC's Momentum for Change Lighthouse award 2016.