This learning note explores the role of digital and financial inclusion in the economic empowerment of women and female entrepreneurship.
Small, Growing Businesses and Employment
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Meenu Jothsna is a Research Manager with the Small, Growing Businesses and Employment vertical at LEAD. Meenu holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai alongside a B. Tech in Biotechnology, from Anna University, Chennai.
Previously, Meenu worked for over six years at the Centre for Public Policy, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore anchoring a cross-section of research and academic responsibilities. She was particularly part of the curriculum development process of a certificate program offered at the institute, titled Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MGNF). Meenu was also a Senior Field Investigator for an IFMR-Harvard University project which aimed to collect evidence on the economic costs of low caloric intake in India.
Her research interests revolve around public policy, health equity and sustainable development. Once she logs off, Meenu enjoys kicking back with classic movies and the latest sitcoms.
Project Associate, Small, Growing Businesses and Employment
Vandhana Ramesh is a Project Associate with Small, Growing Businesses and Employment vertical at LEAD. Currently, she is engaged with providing technical assistance to the World Bank Persons with Disabilities (RIGHTS) project in Tamil Nadu.
Before arriving at LEAD, Vandhana explored themes related to healthcare, labour and criminal justice as a part of Project Statecraft, a youth-led think tank.
Vandhana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Stella Maris College, University of Madras. Deeply interested in widening the lens through which economies are examined, she is passionate about intersectional, pluralistic and non-traditional approaches to policy making.
When not working, Vandhana can be found catching up on compelling history reads and edge-of-your-seat investigative podcasts.
Research Manager, Financial Well-being and Social Protection
Sujeet Kumar is a Research Manager at LEAD with the Financial Well-being and Social Protection vertical. Prior to joining LEAD, he has worked as a research consultant, where he was engaged in projects related to slum-upgrading for the marginalised, gender and field-based intervention projects with organisations such as Duke University, Centre for Advocacy and Research and University of Delhi.
Sujeet received his PhD in Law and Governance from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi where his doctoral research examined how vulnerable urban communities secure rights and citizen-state relations in the city of Patna (Bihar).
Sujeet is passionate about research in the intersections of rural and urban poverty, inequality, social justice and public policy. When he shuts off his laptop, Sujeet seeks calm by indulging in long walks while listening to audio dramas and commentary on podcasts.
Research Associate, Financial Well-being and Social Protection
Dibyajyoti Basak is a Research Associate with the Financial Well-being and Social Protection vertical at LEAD.
Dibyajyoti holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and a Bachelor’s degree in English Honours from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Prior to joining LEAD, he worked with the Indian Political Action Committee.
Dibyajyoti is deeply interested in weaving his way through the different layers of public policy research and data science. He is keen to cultivate the interdisciplinary knowledge required to solve complex development issues.
A passionate Manchester United supporter, Dibyajyoti is happiest when he is working his way through grand strategy video games and intriguing fantasy novels.
Junior Executive, Field Operations
Durgesh Pandey is a Field Executive at LEAD. He specialises in field team training, monitoring, and managing survey teams across different projects. He has extensive experience in managing field surveys for large-scale impact evaluations in the domains of agriculture, digital financial services, MSME development, women empowerment, and livelihoods.
Prior to joining LEAD, Durgesh worked as a District Coordinator with Ekal Vidyalaya, where he worked on programs that aim to alleviate poverty in rural parts India with a focus on both tribal and non-tribal communities.
Durgesh holds a Master’s degree in Social Science and Political Science along with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science from Dr. R. M. L. Awadh University, and is currently pursuing a PG diploma in Rural Development from Indira Gandhi National Open University. He also holds a Diploma in Information Technology from NIIT.
Research Associate, Small, Growing Businesses and Employment
Varun Hariharan is a Research Associate with the Small, Growing Businesses and Employment vertical at LEAD.
Varun holds a Master’s degree in Economics and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Math, from New York University. His college thesis analysed the effect of economic resilience on recovery after the onslaught of hurricanes in the United States.
Prior to working in LEAD, Varun was involved with the social impact investment scene in New York and public policy research initiatives such as The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania. Varun’s research interests include dissecting the historical impact of economic policies on marginalised communities. An avid bibliophile, Varun likes to unwind by rewatching the Sopranos.
Sampurna Basu is a Research Associate with the Financial Well-being and Social Protection vertical at LEAD.
Prior to joining LEAD, Sampurna worked as a pro bono consultant and assisted with research work on development priorities for the Early-Stage Evaluation of the Human Capital Index at the Independent Evaluation Group, World Bank.
Sampurna has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. Her research interests revolve around pressing questions surrounding women’s participation and work-family policies across contexts. On the weekends, you can catch Sampurna curled up in a cosy corner with a pile of pre-loved books and movies.
Vysakh D. Satheesh is a Research Associate with the Financial Well-being and Social Protection vertical at LEAD.
He has previously worked on projects investigating group dynamics and social preferences among School Management Committee members in Delhi and later unpacked the policy landscape for Menstrual Hygiene Management in India.
Vysakh holds a Master’s degree in Economics from Ashoka University, during which time he completed a capstone thesis on the disparities in entry and exit and mobility among MSME entrepreneurs across caste groups. Vysakh enjoys blending a range of contemporary perspectives tied to micro-developmental economics in his work, such as discrimination, intersectionality, education and labour.
Vysakh employs books, movies and music as his tools of escapism. He’s a passionate fantasy and sci-fi reader but is usually just looking for a good story beautifully told. A certified cat-dad, Vysakh spends his free time planning his next travel adventure while indulging in local delicacies.
Sumiran Ardhapure is a Research Associate with the Financial Well-being and Social Protection vertical at LEAD.
Prior to joining LEAD, Sumiran worked as a research assistant at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics on a project measuring the impact of chronic stress on economic decision making.
Sumiran holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Warwick and a Bachelor’s degree in the same subject from Fergusson College, Pune.
He enjoys deconstructing inequality and its various interconnections, particularly its combined implications on economic-decision making and poverty. In his spare time, Sumiran whips up homemade recipes, reads for pleasure, makes art and plays the occasional football.
HR & Admin Executive
NR Srinivasan is an HR & Admin Executive with LEAD. Previously, he has been involved in the core human resources space and held aligned roles in industries including construction & engineering. Srinivasan has hands-on experience implementing people-focussed strategies, procedures & policies for a diverse workforce.
Srinivasan has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Business Administration specialising in Human Resources from Periyar University.
Srinivasan loves exploring opportunities rooted in creativity and is often involved in generating collective ideas. He is also quite the DJ and enjoys dabbling in music production & editing. Srinivasan will be based at the Chennai office.
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