Developmental Innovations in South Asia


Friday, April 15, 2016, 4:00pm to 6:00pm


Larsen 214, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 13 Appian Way Cambridge, MA 02138

HISG is excited to host Developmental Innovations in South Asia, an intimate discussion with seven individuals who have experience in building innovative solutions for some of the developing world's most pressing problems. Join us on April 15th to hear about their initiatives and challenges & opportunities in their sectors.

The event will be a panel discussion, followed by a Q&A, and a reception with the speakers. 


Ms. Geeta Aiyer, Co-founder, Direct Action for Women Now (DAWN) 
Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar, President, ADWAN Nepal
Mr. Abhilash Mishra, Founder-Director, Science Education Initiative
Mr. Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy, Former Senior Trainer, ISTAR Skill Development, Pvt.Ltd.
Mr. Yatin Shriwardhankar, Former Head of Technology, Pratham
Dr. Shivang Dave, Co-founder, Plenoptika
Dr. AJ Kumar, Scientific Director, Jana Care

Speaker Bios: 

Ms. Geeta Aiyer has had a long career in sustainable investing.  She is President and Founder of Boston Common Asset Management. Geeta has founded two previous companies, Walden Capital Management and East India Spice, and is Board Chair and Co-founder of Direct Action for Women Now (DAWN) Worldwide. Geeta was honored with the Joan Bavaria Award (2015), India New England’s Woman of the Year award (2014), the SRI Service Award (2013), and the Women’s Venture Fund’s Highest Leaf Award (2010). She has an MBA from Harvard Business School, and BA (Hons) and MA degrees from Delhi University, India.

Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar is a prolific social entrepreneur and one of the most admired personalities in Nepal’s Dalits, the so called low-caste or untouchable people who are traditionally marginalized in the society. Having realized that low caste women have no advocates and are not served well by established aid organizations, Ms. Pariyar co-founded ADWAN in Nepal with an exclusive objective of serving Dalit women and children of Nepal. She was only 20 at the time she founded ADWAN, which today has made significant impact in the fields of women’s rights and Dalit’s human rights.

Mr. Abhilash Mishra is a PhD student in astrophysics at California Institute of Technology where his research spans cosmology, theoretical astrophysics and science education. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Merton College, Oxford where he obtained a Masters in Physics. He won the Goldman Sachs Global Leader award as an undergraduate at Fergusson College, Pune. Abhilash started as a faculty at the Rural Mathematics Talent Search Program and is one of the founding directors of SEI. He leads program design, curriculum development and research at SEI.

Mr. Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy is a graduate student at The Fletcher School, where he studies political economy and development economics. A finance professional from India with over 5 years of experience in financial consulting and oil & gas, he has, in his most recent assignment, worked in the skill development space in India, where he was part of a team at ISTAR, a skills training firm, that launched vocational, 3 year undergraduate programs as part of the government’s recent higher education policy based on a public private partnership model. At ISTAR, his work included curriculum design, training, research & development and government liaison.

Mr. Yatin Shriwardhankar wore several hats while he worked with Pratham Education Foundation, the last one as the Head of Pratham's first-ever internal Technology team. Through this project, he conceptualized, designed and successfully implemented several technology solutions for Pratham's key processes by collaborating with the program heads and the executive committee. He left Pratham to pursue his graduate degree in business at Babson College. While pursuing his degree, he now works as an Education Cabinet Fellow at the Boston Mayor's office. 

Dr. Ashok A. Kumar ('A.J.') earned a B.S. in Physics from Stanford University in 2007 and a PhD in Applied Physics from Harvard University in 2014 as a NSF Graduate Research Fellow and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Research Fellow. From 2007-2009, he served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in a rural village in South Africa. In 2014, he was selected as a Harvard Horizon's Scholar for his work leading the development of a rapid test for sickle cell disease and the evaluation of the device in the field in Zambia. He is a consultant for Daktari Diagnostics, which is now leading the development of the diagnostic for sickle cell disease.  A.J. is currently the Scientific Director at Jana Care, a social enterprise combating diabetes through a combination of low-cost diagnostics and lifestyle coaching, all delivered over a mobile phone.

Dr. Shivang Dave's social impact motivation lead him to pursue the intersection of medicine, science/engineering, academic research, and technology commercialization. His formal studies include a BS in Bioengineering and minor in synthetic chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and a dual-degree PhD in Bioengineering & Nanotechnology from the University of Washington, Seattle, in addition to the Technology Entrepreneurship Certificate from the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship from the UW Foster School of Business. During his three-year M+Visión Fellowship in inaugural cohort of the the MIT-Madrid M+Visión Consortium for Biomedical Imaging & Entrepreneurship, he co-developed the QuickSee platform and co-founded PlenOptika. He has been instrumental in securing grant funding, establishing business partnerships, in organizing pilot tests, and running clinical evaluations of the QuickSee platform in the U.S. and India. Over the last decade he has won numerous awards, helped innovate, translate, and commercialize three separate biomedical technologies, and been in way too many business plan competitions.