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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Senior Research Associate
Shailja Tandon is a Senior Research Associate with LEAD, where she is currently working on a research project on gender-based violence. She is also working with faculty at Krea University on a project related to Literature and Humanities in India.
Shailja has over five years of research experience in social and public policy, with a focus on sexual minorities, human capital for development outcomes and citizen behaviour. She holds a M.Phil. in Political Science from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.
Outside work, Shailja coordinates the Knowledge and Practice Group of the Foundation for Creative Social Research, an intellectual initiative created for interaction among academics, writers, artists, poets, social activists, and policymakers. She is passionate about dancing and travelling.
Research Associate, Small, Growing Businesses and Employment
Kaavyayani Pal works as a Research Associate with the Small, Growing Businesses and Employment vertical at LEAD. She was previously associated with organisations such as Foundation for International Development/Relief, UN Global Compact and Aditya Birla Corporate Economic Cell.
Kaavyayani holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University.
She is passionate about developmental economics and the application of data science in improving public policy. Kaavyayani hopes to use her research in understanding the socioeconomic structures in India. Outside of work, she enjoys exploring new places, and can often be found doodling while listening to a podcast.
Research Associate, Financial Well-being and Social Protection
Rijul Alvan Das works as a Research Associate with the Financial Well-being and Social Protection vertical at LEAD.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree in Economics from Ramjas College, University of Delhi.
Rijul is deeply interested in topics revolving around development economics and political economies. In his free time, he can most likely be found catching up on films, western classical music, and working his way through a pile of books.
Subhrajit Rath works as a Research Associate with the Small, Growing Businesses and Employment vertical at LEAD. Previously, he worked as an Academic Associate at Indian Institute of Management, Indore and subsequently undertook teaching assignments at various places in Odisha.
Subhrajit is on the verge of completing his PhD. in Analytical and Applied Economics from Utkal University. He holds a M.Phil in Economics with a focus on Community Health and Welfare from Pondicherry University and a Master’s degree in Economics with a specialisation in Econometrics from Utkal University.
Subhrajit is curious about new places, people and cuisines. When not at the office, you can find him reading one of the many books he has open or playing chess to kill time.
Senior Research Associate, Financial Well-being and Social Protection
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.
Senior Program Manager, Enterprise Development
Sijo John is a Senior Program Manager with the Small, Growing Businesses and Employment vertical at LEAD. Previously, she has worked in people-centric projects on governance, nutrition, skill development and livelihoods across implementation, program and knowledge management capacities.
Sijo holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Delhi University.
Her research interests are focussed on system strengthening, community-centred policy design and gender. Sijo loves nerding out over the latest fiction reads, plotting to expand her houseplant collection around payday, befriending dogs and cats, and reporting trolls on social media.
Senior Research Associate
Vatsima Tripathi is a Senior Research Associate with the Small, Growing Businesses and Employment vertical at LEAD. In the past, Vatsima worked toward researching and evaluating evidence-based solutions geared towards social impact.
Vatsima holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Governance from Azim Premji University and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Delhi University.
Her research interests lie at the intersection of livelihoods, gender, and circular economy. She specializes in mixed methods studies, with a strong focus on qualitative research. When she’s not working, Vatsima likes to unwind by toiling away in her kitchen garden and also takes up painting occasionally.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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