Team

Naveen Jha

Chief Executive Officer

Naveen JhaNaveen Jha is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Deshpande Foundation, India. He has been with the foundation since its inception in India bringing a vision of enabling local solutions through a bottom-up approach. Naveen graduated from Brandeis University, a top ranked university in the USA, with a Masters in International Development and was the recipient of the prestigious Ford Foundation Fellowship. He has also taken numerous courses at MIT’s Poverty Lab and Harvard University.

Under Naveen’s leadership, the Foundation has touched thousands of lives including non-profits, students, youth, academics and universities. A serial entrepreneur himself, Naveen has launched several initiatives within and outside of the Deshpande Foundation. Naveen is passionate about mentoring youth who are interested in social entrepreneurship. This has led to the launch of several highly successful fellowship programs that has produced hundreds of graduates now working with social enterprises all over India. Naveen has also pioneered a series of youth development programs that helps transform the attitudes of young people into solving problems locally. One of these programs, LEAD, has more than ten thousand students engaged in problem solving in their communities and has unleashed the power of social change within their neighborhoods. Under his direction, within the Northwestern Karnataka footprint of the foundation, an innovative grant making program has led to several effective and scalable models of development.

Naveen has helped build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Hubli Sandbox consisting of the Greater Hubli/Dharwad area. He has been instrumental in founding the local chapter of TiE, one of the largest international non-profits promoting entrepreneurship, and serves as its current President. In addition to TiE, Naveen also serves as a board member of several for profit and non-profit organizations. Prior to his work with the Deshpande Foundation, Naveen worked for six years at PRADAN, a pioneering livelihoods organization where, as Team leader, he helped create usable and sustainable prototypes of livelihoods programs and water resource management.

Neelam Maheshwari

Director Grants

Neelam MaheshwariDr. Neelam Maheshwari received her PhD in Gender Studies from the State University of New York in Buffalo in 2012 and her Masters in International Development from Brandeis University in Boston in 2007. Neelam brings with her over ten years of experience promoting small enterprises, producer collectives and community led microfinance.

At the Deshpande Foundation, Neelam manages Hubli sandbox’s livelihoods and small enterprises program; where she has helped several organizations develop revenue models of their program, launch community led producer collectives and market led livelihoods initiatives. Besides monitoring and managing partnership with Sandbox partners, Neelam helps create prototypes that drive entrepreneurial opportunities at the bottom of the pyramid. In 2011 she initiated a unique program “Navodyami” that has assisted over hundred small entrepreneurs in the Hubli Sandbox by providing mentorship, financial and marketing support. She is passionate about issues of gender, equity and entrepreneurship and was instrumental in launching a a very active women’s chapter of TiE Hubli which works to mentor women-led startups in the region.
Before joining her current organization, Neelam taught several courses at SUNY Buffalo for two years and supported the fundraising efforts for a women’s community fund in Boston. Neelam previously worked at Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), an award winning livelihoods organization in India. At PRADAN Neelam led a team of professionals to launch several livelihoods programs in draught prone regions of Rajasthan State including microcredit enterprises, natural resource management programs and the first women’s dairy cooperative. Seeking to bridge her interest in academia and action, Neelam also writes about and engages in addressing the challenges of building enterprises that catalyze wealth generation opportunities for resource constrained communities.


Stanley George Gundi

Director - Admin and Operations

Stanley George Gundi

Stanley has joined the Deshpande Foundation as the Director of Operations. He handles the overall administration, facility management and legal matters of the Foundation.He has 13 years of experience in for-profit organizations in the finance and FMCG sectors. Stanley has completed his degree in arts, specializing in economics, political Science and anthropology.

Ajay Suman Shukla

Team Leader, LEAD Program

Ajay Suman Shukla

Ajay Suman earned his post-graduate degree (MSW) and MPhil in Social Work from the University of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. For a year and a half, Ajay worked with the Lucknow NGO Sahayog Society where he coordinated gender awareness programs with universities, college youth and men in Uttar Pradesh at the state level; in this role, Ajay supported the awareness of gender equality and violence against women. Ajay also graduated from the Deshpande Fellowship Program(DFP), a program that highlighted social entrepreneurship and development. Upon graduation, Ajay was hired as a program manager of the Deshpande Foundation’s LEAD program as his passion has always been in working with youth. Since then, Ajay has taken on a senior management role as functional head of the LEAD program where he initiated LEAD Prayana, an excursion program where college-aged youth are provided with the tools to unleash the leadership potential within themselves; as Ajay believes young and self-motivated LEADers from all over the world can make lasting positive change in society.

Annie Vijaya

HR Manager

Annie VijayaAnnie received her MBA graduation from Bangalore University, with HR and Systems as her specialization. Soon after her post-graduation, she started her career with the Deshpande Foundation, as a LEAD Program Manager in 2008. After completing 2.5 years of her services with LEAD, she chose to transition into in a Human Resource position where she currently serves as a Human Resource Manager with the Foundation. Annie also brings experience in working as a Project Officer with Agastya International where she played a critical role in the event Jignyasa. She considers herself to be very proactive and a self-initiator.

Guranagouda N.K.

Program Manager, DSK Program

Guranagouda N.K.Guranagouda was born and raised in Dharwad District. He completed his MSW at Karnataka University, Dharwad. Following his graduation, he worked for an NGO called Toxic Links for two and a half years as a capacity building officer. Guru graduated from Deshpande Fellowship Program in March 2011 and thereafter joined Deshpande Susandhi Fellowship Program as Program Manager. He is interested in the social development sector, especially in training.

Jagadeesh N Hanchinal

Program Manager, DSF Program

Jagadeesh N HanchinalJagadeesh N Hanchinal received his Masters of Management of Non-Profit Organizations from Vivekananda Institute of Leadership Development, which is affiliated with the University of Mysore. Jagadeesh received his BA degree from the JSS Arts, Science and Commerce College, Gokak. During his BA program, he received his NCC 'C' certificate. During his graduate studies, Jagadeesh completed a research study on "Reasons for Attrition in Non-Profit Organizations". He was selected for the Deshpande Fellowship Program in 2009, of which he is a graduate of Cohort II. After completion of DFP, Jagadeesh worked for one year as a Project Coordinator with TIDE.

Ketan Nagada

Accounts Manager

Ketan NagadaKetan Nagada is a Graduate in Commerce from the University of Mumbai and has a Diploma in Financial Management from Wellingkar's Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai. After graduation, Ketan interned with a chartered accountant from 1997 to 2002, where he gained experience in auditing, finalization of accounts, direct and indirect taxation, income-tax raids and high-detailed analysis of various trades and industries. From 2003 to 2009, he worked with Maruti, Hero Honda, and Tata. His professional skills include general administration, co-ordination, developing partnerships across agencies, and communication.

Geeta Hegde

Program Manager, LEAD Program

Geeta HegdeGeeta Hegde received her Bachelor's of Business Administration from Government First Grade College in her hometown of Sirsi. While studying in college, Geeta joined LEAD where she led an initiative to train people on extracting rope from waste tires to earn money. For this project, she was awarded Best LEADer. After that experience, she joined the Deshpande Fellowship Program, which led her to her current position as a Program Manager for LEAD.Geeta's hobbies include learning new things, reading and dancing. She also has a goal to start up her own venture in recycling waste tires.

Kavitha Kawlagi

Program Manager, LEAD Program

Kavitha KawlagiKavitha Kawlagi holds an MSW from Gulbarga University, Gulbarga. She graduated from Deshpande Fellowship Program in March 2011 and now serves as a program manager for LEAD. Kavitha is interested in social entrepreneurship and inspired by her family. Her ultimate goal is to open her own enterprise to improve rural communities.

Neeta Pradeep Habba

Program Manager, DFP Program

Neeta Pradeep HabbaNeeta Pradeep Habba is from Solapur, Maharashtra. She completed her M.S.W. from Walchand College of Arts & Science from University of Solapur. She graduated from Deshpande Fellowship Program in March 2011.While pursuing her M.S.W, Neeta conducted research entitled "A Study on the Knowledge and Attitude about Child Rights among Secondary School Teachers and their Role in Promotion of Child Rights." Neeta is inspired by social work and currently works as a program manager for Deshpande Fellowship Program (DFP) for one and half year. Neeta believes that passionate and skilled human resource can definitely contribute in solving current social issues.

Mohammad Innuskhan

Program Manager - Agriculture and BCI

Mohammad InnuskhanPresently working with Deshpande Foundation in promotion of Better Cotton Initiative project in addition acting as a program manager of Deshpande Sushandi Krishi Chetana Fellowship program to build human resource for agriculture sector and make them employee bale in the sector. Mohammad Innuskhan worked with SST-PRADAN NGO in Rajasthan to enhancing livelihood opportunities for poor families through Natural Resource Management and Micro finance. Mohammad Innuskhan received my master degree from Rajasthan University in Political Science and I also did Horticulture Diploma from India Council of Agriculture Research New Dehli.

Iranna Shivanand Rotte

Program Manager, Navodyami Program

Iranna Shivanand Rotte

Iranna is working as a Program Manager for Navodyami, a program launched by Deshpande Foundation to mentor and support micro-entrepreneurs of the Sandbox region. Prior to joining the Foundation, he worked as a social worker for Street Children Project with SATHI, Pune. Iranna is a fellow of Deshpande Fellowship Program and holds a Master's in Social Work from Sholapur University.

Amrut Patil

Program Manager, LEAD Program

Amrut PatilAmrut joins LEAD after receiving a Bachelor's of Commerce from JSS College, Karnataka University, Dharwad, and completing the Deshpande Fellowship Program. During college, he worked with LEAD on projects such as fundraising for North Karnataka flood areas and money handling in rural areas. Amrut is very passionate about working with youth to make powerful, positive change. Through his work, he hopes to utilize his skills, grow professionally and work toward the success of LEAD and Deshpande Foundation.

Sunil Patil

Program Associate

Sunil PatilSunil S. Patil, a native of Hubli, received his Bachelors of Arts from Karnataka University in Dharwad. Concurrently, he was employed as a Senior Customer Service Executive for First Source Solutions Pvt. Ltd in Hubli for two years. While at a crossroads both personally and professionally, Sunil chose to join the Deshpande Fellowship Program which polished his skills in marketing and communication. The program engendered an entrepreneurial mindset in Sunil which led him to start his own event management enterprise. Sunil is currently Program Associate for the Champions Program where his focus is to educate professionals on social challenges faced by the local region and mentor them as they implement solutions.

Krishnnaji C M

Program Associate, Technology for Common

Krishnnaji C MKrishnnaji C M completed his MSW degree at Davangere University. A recent MSW graduate, Krishnnaji was exposed to valuable work experience in rural and urban field work in various settings a hospital setting. Furthermore, he participated in a Micro planning camp. His goal in life is to start an NGO for underprivileged people, and he is particularly interested in providing psychological, emotional support and new technology with creativity to people with problems. In DFP, he hopes to learn about IT, Effective communications, Social Entrepreneurship, Fundraising, Creativity and Innovation as these are all useful skills that will help him to achieve this goal. He can speak, Read and Write (English, Kannada, and Hindi) his hobbies are reading books, playing Cricket, Singing, and keep learning new things he has good patience and friendly nature.

Chetankumar Pujari

Media Officer

Chetankumar PujariChetankumar Pujari is a gold medalist from the Department of Mass Communication & Journalism at Karnatak University, Dharwad and has been a documentary filmmaker since 2009. As a Director, Producer, Cinematographer and Editor he has extensive experience in filming non-profits causes in northwestern Karnataka across health, education, agriculture & livelihood domains. He has also produced several Short Films, Public Interest Advertisements and Commercials.
Additionally, Mr. Pujari has worked as content writer for Arabian Gazette, an online gulf magazine, and has contributed various articles on business and technology, also has worked with SUN network as associate producer for India biggest debate competition for school children “Verbattle”.He holds Masters MA in Mass Communication & Journalism and Bachelors in Commerce and is passionate about parallel cinema and new media.

Savita Y Naganagoudar

Manager People Functioning (HR)

Savita Y Naganagoudar Mrs.Savita Y Naganagoudar is from Hubli, Karnataka. She graduated with both an MSW and an MBA and participated in the Desphande Fellowship Program in 2009. She conducted research on "Employee Job Satisfaction in NJK Enterprises, Bangalore" and in her Fellowship developed a Business Plan on "Career Guidance Center for North Karnataka".Since, 2007 she has worked as an HR professional, and was associated with CAPART as a young professional - HR, the Deshpande Foundation as Consultant for Human Capital (Fellows), Navachtana Microfinance Services Pvt Ltd as a Manager - HR and Administration, and Muthoot Fin Corp Pvt Lt LTD as Sr. Regional HR. At present she is working with Deshpande Foundation as Manager People Functioning (HR) & Alumni Coordinator .She is also earning her scholarship from "Asian HR board" for the licentiate HRM Professional.

Sanjeev V. Kulkarni

Program Associate – Grantmaking & Partnerships

Sanjeev V. KulkarniSanjeev is full time development professional ever since his graduation in Bachelor of Arts in 2005. He started his career in non-profits with a pioneering organization Vidya Poshak in the mission of assisting talented but financially challenged students to continue their higher education and excel. Soon after graduating from the first ever batch of the Deshpande Fellowship Program in January 2009, which Sanjeev believes as great advancement in his career, he started exploring career in Entrepreneurship development, agriculture-livelihoods and resource mobilization space. Accordingly he worked in ‘Social Enterprise Incubation Program’ at Hubli, ‘Soybean productivity enhancement project’ at Rajasthan and ‘Livelihood opportunity study for Tibetan refugees living in exile in India’ at across India with TechnoServe Inc.

Later he worked as Resource Mobilization and Event Management professional both with Vidya Poshak and Agastya International Foundation for a year each in Sandbox area where he was instrumental in designing and executing several revenue generating programs including ‘Jignyasa 2012’ a state level mega event for school students. With a strong agreement with Foundation’s core values, Sanjeev joined Deshpande Foundation’s Grantmaking and Partnership Program in mid 2012 and currently working with Foundation’s partner NGOs to ensure effective implementation of partners programs and their growth for the maximized benefit for the community. Sanjeev is highly passionate about human capacity building and youth development and enjoys mentoring the fellows at DET’s skill building programs. In his spare time he loves go on long drive on bike, swimming and watching serious movies with meaningful message.

Chandrashekhar H M

Program Manager, DFP

chandrashekarMr.Chandrashekhar H M completed his Master of Business Administration in 2010-12, from Alagappa University, Post Graduate Diploma in Yoga Studies from Karnataka University, Dharwad, Graduated from Deshpande Center For Social Entrepreneurship in 2009. He has 5 years of experience working in corporate as well as social sector through BAIF Institute for Rural Development (K), Tiptur as volunteer, K.V. Deshpande Chartered Accountant firm, Dharwad as audit assistant, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, Mysore as Training Coordinator cum Documentation officer & State Project Officer at Mysore. His interest made him to conduct yoga camps to the community & students. Presently he is working with Deshpande Fellowship Program as a Program Manager.