Rob Katz

Women in Social Enterprise: Three Conversations

My friend Joanna Harries recently wrapped up a yearlong stint as an Acumen Fund Fellow. Prior to Acumen Fund, Joanna was a Brand Manager at Unilever in Toronto, where she also led community-focused projects. She has a MBA and is frankly one of those people who makes you wonder how one person can be knowledgable in so many arenas.

I think I may be starting to figure it out: Joanna is a great listener. She seeks out interesting people and asks them probing questions, listening and capturing fantastic insights. Having seen Joanna in action while working for Dial 1298 for Ambulance – where she conducted surveys of low-income customers, among other things – this is no surprise.

Her expertise is not limited to low-income customers, however. While at Dial 1298 for Ambulance, Joanna managed to author a three-part series on “Women in Social Enterprise” while on assignment for Beyond Profit Magazine. As I reviewed the series, I realized that I would be remiss if I didn’t post the blog pieces up on NextBillion as well.

  • Part One is an interview with Chetna Gala Sinha, Founder of Mann Deshi Bank. Mann Deshi was the first in India to lend to rural women; it now boasts more than 120,000 clients.
  • Part Two is an interview with Pooja Warier, Co-Founder of UnLtd India, which provides seed funding, along with start-up services, to individuals with an idea or early stage social venture. Pooja is also a founder of the Hub Mumbai.
  • Part Three is an interview with Sweta Mangal, CEO of Dial 1298 for Ambulance (and Joanna’s former boss).

Joanna has left Mumbai and is preparing to return to New York, where she will take a job as a Director of International Expansion at Endeavor. But thanks to her appetite for information – and her sublime listening skills – her experiences in Mumbai will live on long after she’s left India.