SARDI India MSME Tech Policy Fellowship Program


USAID through its South Asia Regional Digital Initiative (SARDI) has launched a fellowship program in India to conduct policy research at the interface of digitalization and MSMEs in India and facilitate sustainable change in the policy ecosystem. The fellowships thus aim to provide policy recommendations that can be readily taken up for action through coordinated efforts of various government agencies and other stakeholders. The focus is on finding ways in which overall digital adoption and digital transformation can thus be achieved for the MSMEs in India. The fellowship will provide policy recommendations that can be readily taken up for action through coordinated efforts of various government agencies.  Overall, SARDI is managed by DAI. The fellowship program is anchored at LEAD — it will provide key technical and operational support to DAI in ensuring the objective of the fellowship is attained and also establishing synergy with other initiatives under SARDI in India. The fellows will be hosted at reputed organizations who can provide outstanding mentorship on the chosen topic. 


LEAD has instituted the fellowships at three reputed organizations (think tanks), each hosting a research fellow, with a focus on addressing a niche problem confronting MSMEs in adopting digital tools and processes.  The fellowships commenced in January 2023 and will continue till December 2023. At the end of the fellowship, the objective will be to ensure that the research feeds into the policy design through widespread dissemination among the right set of stakeholders.

Selected Fellows and Think Tanks

Details of fellows and think tanks selected for the fellowship are given below:

1. Think Tank: 200 Million

Research Topic: Opportunities and Challenges for Digitalisation among Collective Enterprises in India’s  Handloom Sector

  • Mentor: Priya Krishnamoorthy
  • Fellow: Eisha Choudhary

2. Think Tank: Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics

Research Topic: Examining the Potential of Digitalised Platforms in the Formalisation of Nano Businesses in Trade and Retail segment

  • Mentor: Dr. Lalitagauri Kulkarni
  • Fellow: Vibhanshu Kumar

3. Think Tank: Samunnati 

Research Topic: Way Forward on Promoting Digital Uptake by Agri-MSMEs (FPOs) in India 

  • Mentor: Sridhar Easwaran
  • Fellow: Shubhangi Jaiswal


Multi-stakeholder engagement at a sectoral level, coordinated by LEAD, will provide opportunities to identify the right policy lever to push MSME digitalization. Based on the nature of the relationship forged, the fellows hosted may continue to support the think tank in their future endeavours. The policy research outputs generated in the course of the fellowship will be disseminated to key stakeholders such as nodal ministries, academia, corporates, start-ups and other ecosystem enablers, through learning events like seminars and conferences organized by LEAD.

Results forthcoming. 


Thematic Area

Small, Growing Businesses and Employment

Project Leads

LEAD: Santanu Pramanik, John Victor Arun Kumar, Preethi Rao; DAI: Ritesh Datta, Andrea Falso; USAID: Roshan Nair, Harry Kriz


Multiple (based on the shortlisted organizations and geographical area of focus the policy research)


USAID, DAI, 200 Million Artisans, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Samunnati