Vanita Viswanath

Synergos Senior Fellow & BOARD MEMBER AT JAGRITI

Vanita Viswanath serves as a board member at Jagriti, an organisation whose work focuses on empowering poor women in India through social enterprise, promoting women in upper ends of the value chains and promoting cultural and family embeddness perspective development. Beneficiaries include women and their families, and start-up social entrepreneurs.

She was the CEO of Udyogini, an organization providing business development services to poor women in the less economically developed and remote regions of India. Established in 1992, Udyogini works to empower poor women through micro-enterprise development and management, focusing on the strategic initiatives of promoting gender-inclusive value chains, market linkages and training in vocational and business skills in 8 less economically developed states of India.

Prior to joining Udyogini, Vanita worked with the World Bank in Washington, D.C., during which she was active in leading the World Bank Institute and promoted the Women's Enterprise Management Training Outreach Program in the Philippines, Bangladesh and India. She has also consulted with several international organizations, including Oxfam International, Conservation International, the United Kingdom's Department for International Aid, UNDP and the Asian Development Bank, where she wrote the first policy document on the bank's collaboration with NGOs.

She has written several books and articles on a wide-range of issues, including political development, gender, development practice, microenterprises and corporate-NGO partnerships. In 2009, she was one of five persons worldwide invited to attend the Salzburg Seminar session on "Confronting Protectionism: How business and government can support open markets," which was based on an essay on the subject.

  • Watch Vanita's presentation on "Providing Access to Markets" at the National Conference on Social Entrepreneurship (2009).

Vanita is now actively engaged in promoting national and international partnerships for social entrepreneurship and has been a guest speaker at several universities in the United States including the Yale School of Management, the School of Public and International Affairs at Columbia University, Middlebury College and the School of Business at University of Illinois, Urbana. She has a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin.