We are Real. Meet the Team

Mr. Nirbhay Jain

Mr. Nirbhay Jain

Founder & Chairman Emeritus

At the height of his corporate career as President of the Birla Group of Companies, Mr. Nirbhay Jain launched the NGO empowHER India, then known as SKS Chakshu Foundation, with the aim to improve the lives of those less fortunate. He worked tirelessly to channel social responsibility targets of the corporate sector and the more fortunate, determined to empower the less fortunate through education, self-reliance and sustained livelihood. His nurturing leadership has seen empowHer India transform and improve the lives of the poor in the villages and underdeveloped rural areas of Panvel. Coming from humble beginnings and having lived in tough rural conditions himself, Mr. Jain has spent his entire life committed to the cause of uplifting the poor and the backward.

Mrs. Urmila Jain

Mrs. Urmila Jain

Trustee

Mrs. Urmila Jain has been the guiding force of empowHER India. She has spent over 20 years striving for the empowerment of people in the villages and underdeveloped rural areas of Panvel. She has been instrumental in bringing education, health, social welfare and other development initiatives to the people in these areas. Today, her abiding dedication and efforts have helped positively transform more than 65 villages. She continues to work for the numerous development programs of empowHER India.

Mr. Utsav Kapadia

Mr. Utsav Kapadia

Trustee

Mr. Utsav Kapadia is former managing director of Kaira Can Company Ltd., a leading manufacturer in the container industry. An IIT-Bombay alumni with a Masters in Industrial Metallurgy and Management Techniques and Welding Technology from the UK, he has used his over 30-year industrial and corporate business management experience to structure empowHER India’s operations from the grassroots level. Mr. Kapadia believes that the right blend of innovation and understanding of rural requirements and temperaments can maximise available resources and lead to a brighter future. Mr. Kapadia is also a board of director and trustee of various organisations such as the Kalyandas Memorial Sports Foundation, the H.P.L. Public Charitable Trust and the Annakrish Trust. He is part of the consulting committee for the Borderless World Foundation that runs orphanages for young girls in strife-affected areas of Kashmir. He regards the Indian dairy pioneer Dr. Verghese Kurien as his inspiration and believes in giving back selflessly to society.

Mrs. Varsha Jain

Mrs. Varsha Jain

Trustee

Mrs. Varsha Jain is former in-charge-principal, Premlila Vithaldas Polytechnic Mumbai (PV Polytechnic), 2010-2012. A qualified and trained educationist, Mrs. Jain has over 20 years experience in the field of education. She has been involved with empowHER India’s development activities in the villages of Panvel from its inception. Her ability to speak in Marathi helped the Foundation connect with the locals and further their work in the community. As community coordinator in the villages, Mrs. Jain rallied the resources and faculty at PV Polytechnic to develop short-term training programmes for income-generation and offered these to the SHGs in the villages around Panvel. She initiated vocational programmes in fruit and vegetable processing and dehydration and stitch craft (enhancement of garments) for the SHG members at the PV Polytechnic in Mumbai. She has also organised training in processing of medicinal herbs for tribal women from the foothills of Matheran and training in optical lens fitting for the school dropouts. She has conducted marketing training workshops for empowHER India SHG members. She has also organised various medical check-up camps and career counselling activities for the students at the Rakesh Jain Secondary School, Panvel. She constantly looks for opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives.

Mr. Vishal Jain

Mr. Vishal Jain

Trustee

Mr. Vishal Jain has 20 years of global management consulting experience with McKinsey and with Bridge Strategy Group. As a management consultant he has worked for some of the largest companies in the world helping them on issues related to strategic direction, operational excellence and organisational alignment. He now runs a niche insurance BPO with offices in Bangalore and Pune that provide services to insurance companies in the UK and USA. He is interested in addressing challenges associated with India’s rapid urbanisation. Mr. Jain has been associated with empowHER India for almost two decades. He is an avid promoter of women’s empowerment through providing education and livelihood opportunities, as well as a strong believer in the “one home one toilet” philosophy — all of which align perfectly with empowHER India’s mission. Additionally, Mr. Jain serves as a Trustee on two other NGOs – Janwani, which promotes sustainable development in the Pune Metropolitan Region and Shelter Associates which assists the urban poor in cities and towns across Maharashtra to gain access to better sanitation, housing and livelihoods. He has served as an advisor to the Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporations on improving Solid Waste Management. He also led a national-level task force created by the Ministry of Urban Development to benchmark cities on the delivery of basic municipal services.

Mr. Pradeep Jalan

Mr. Pradeep Jalan

Trustee

Mr. Pradeep Jalan is an independent financial planner based in Canada with over 40 years experience. He holds a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from IIT-Bombay and a Ph.D in Finance from the University of Alberta. He has served as a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross as the Finance & Administration Delegate where he oversaw the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC, Geneva) refugee operations in Uganda. At empowHER India, he is involved in its developmental plans and working towards establishing transparency in the financial operations of the organisation. Mr Jalan feels that equality is an inherent feature of a free and democratic society. Therefore he is committed to the economic empowerment of women. He is particularly energised by the focus of empowHER India to use the collective capability of women, organised into Self Help Groups (SHGs), to bring about meaningful change to the economic well-being of the families in rural Panvel.

Ms. Anandi Vangal

Ms. Anandi Vangal

Director – Education

After 25 years as an educator in Indian urban and international schools, Ms. Anandi Vangal joined the Rakesh Jain Secondary School with a mission to upgrade the institute and bring it into the 21st century. Her vision is that the future of India lies in the rural sector and to bring them into today’s times, students must be taught technical and modern education while keeping their inherent and indigenous Indian value systems intact. She has done this by modernising the school in core areas. Ms. Vangal has brought about many progressive changes in the school by introducing new activities and holding various workshops and community welfare programmes for the children. She believes in inculcating humane, sensitive, compassionate and progressive values in children and in making education holistic so that school becomes a home away from home. She has made it her mission to make education more appealing and conducive for children and strives to help them acquire knowledge that will enable them to overcome life’s many challenges. A keen observer of life, she embraces change and believes that those more fortunate must help the less fortunate.

Ms. Shefali Kapadia

Ms. Shefali Kapadia

Trustee

Ms. Shefali Kapadia is a trained interior design professional from the New York School of Interior Design. She has also been a buyer and consultant in the home furnishings space for several international home furnishing stores. Ms. Kapadia leads the marketing, branding, communications, digital and social media platforms at empowHER India. Ms. Kapadia is also responsible for fund raising, working with corporate and individual donors to generate awareness for programme initiatives. She also manages special projects such as health camps and nutrition programmes for women and has helped empowHER India expand its scope of offerings through the women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs). A student of philosophy, Ms. Kapadia believes her commitment to serve people broadens her understanding of life. Her mother’s work at NAB, NASEOH, Maharashtra State Women’s Council and other private trusts inspired her to make a positive impact in people’s lives. She has experienced in the villages of Panvel the domino effect a woman, empowered with information and opportunities, has on her family, village and community. She believes in adopting an innovative approach to improving the livelihoods of the less fortunate.

Mr. Jyotirmoy Chatterji

Mr. Jyotirmoy Chatterji

Senior Advisor

Mr. Jyotirmoy Chatterji is a social entrepreneur and systemic change evangelist with 7+ years in the impact space in India. He has been directly involved with impacting more than 1,00,000+ villagers across seven states in India through interventions in the domains of energy access, financial inclusion, sanitation, livelihood generation, agriculture and development technology. He is a firm believer in leveraging technology to create impact at scale and believes in data-driven decision-making to solve some of the most complex problems facing the globe today. Mr. Chatterji is an Acumen India Fellow and has been the co-organiser of TEDxGateway, one of the largest TEDx conferences in the world. He consults philanthropists, non-profits, companies and governments on creating and executing projects having impact at scale. He is personally motivated about the opportunity to catalyse women to bring about irreversible change to transform rural communities. 

Mr. Sanjiv Anand

Mr. Sanjiv Anand

Member – Advisory Board

Mr. Sanjiv Anand is managing director, Cedar Consulting, a leading and award-winning global management and information technology consulting firm with 15 offices globally. A Harvard Business School and Stern Graduate School of Business alumni, Mr. Anand has over 30 years of management consulting experience across the globe. He has been instrumental in developing strategy for US telecom and electronic markets, subsequently setting up operations in Asia and the Middle East. He has assisted the Boards and CEOs of leading global and regional companies develop and execute business strategy, transformation business operations, and address strategic HR and restructuring challenges. He is an international expert on the Balanced Scorecard having executed over 200 scorecards. Mr. Anand has driven over $1 Billion FDI into Asia and has assisted private equity firms in over $300 million in investments. He is well published and has been a keynote speaker at global conferences. A former YPO & WPO Chair, he is the author of Unlocking Human Capital to Drive Performance: A CEO’s Handbook published by McGraw Hill.

Mr. Sushil Kumar Jiwarajka

Mr. Sushil Kumar Jiwarajka

Member – Advisory Board

Mr. Sushil Kumar Jiwarajka is a prominent industrialist and chairman of Artheon Group of companies and chairman and managing director of Essjay Ericsson Pvt. Ltd. having business interests in telecom, renewable energy and e-commerce. He has been chairman, FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry), WRC (2000-March 2014), chairman, Indo-Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry (2005-March 2013), president, Infrastructure & Logistics Federation of India (ILFI), national vice-president, Air Passengers Association of India, past president of the International Chamber of Commerce, India, managing trustee, Dwarkadas Jiwarajka Memorial Trust, Mumbai and past president of All India Organisation of Employers. He has been a member of several central and state government committees and is an independent director on the board of several companies. He has mentored and nurtured several young entrepreneurs and has promoted Omnigrid Micro Power Company Pvt. Ltd., an award-winning company that has been providing clean power using renewable energy for telecom sites and rural communities. He has been funding the construction of 60 toilets every year at empowHER India and is involved in realising the goal of building 10,000 toilets in rural India by 2020. He believes that giving back to society is an obligation of every well-to-do citizen. Among the causes close to his heart are sanitation, health of rural women and education of the girl child.

Mr. Paras Chowdhary

Mr. Paras Chowdhary

Member – Advisory Board

Armed with a degree in physics from the prestigious St. Stephen’s College in Delhi, Mr Chowdhary has spearheaded some of the biggest companies in India including Apollo Tyres, RPG Group and CEAT tyres. In 2013, he decided to retire from active corporate life and settle down in Pune. He continues to give direction and shape the way ahead for CEAT, Philips Carbon and a few other companies of the RPG Group. Mr. Chowdhary got acquainted with empowHER India through the organisation’s school in Panvel and was impressed with the work done by the foundation. His wife, Mrs. Rekha Chowdhary, a well-known choreographer decided to teach Bharatnatyam and Indian folk dances to 65 school girls who went on to perform in the Annual Show of the school in 2016. Having spent his childhood and completing his basic education from the tribal belt of Jharkhand, Mr Chowdhary understands the positive impact empowHER India has had on rural Panvel and wishes to contribute for the same.

Anamara Baig

Anamara Baig

CEO, empowHER India Foundation

Anamara Baig has over 9 years’ experience in program implementation, donor management and business development. She is the former Head of Donor Management at Pratham Education Foundation, one of the largest non-­‐profit organizations in India working in the Education and Skill Development space. She firmly believes that solutions should be evidence based, scalable and easily replicable. During her time at Pratham she has worked on large scale programs such as Read India, impacting over 4 million children annually and has overseen implementation of programs leveraging technology to deliver learning solutions. In her capacity as Head of Donor Management, she has managed relationships with key Pratham partners both in India and globally. She was the primary Pratham India representative to all Pratham overseas chapters such as Pratham USA, Pratham UK and Pratham Canada. She also served as the Executive Assistant to the Co-­‐Founder and former CEO of Pratham, where she worked on all aspects of program design, implementation and impact evaluation for key government and corporate partnerships. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Jai Hind College and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Kent. Her endeavour is to undertake social initiatives that empower communities, especially women, in order to create a long term sustainable impact.

Ms. Khushboo Motihar

Ms. Khushboo Motihar

Program Manager

Ms. Khushboo Motihar has a background in Journalism and has completed her Masters in Social Work (Rural Development) from TISS. She has worked with an anti-human trafficking organization for their livelihood projects impacting over 200+ survivors for 2 years and has joined empowHER India in 2017. She believes that women are agents of change and empowHER India, through its strong network of Self Help Groups, can promote and foster collaborative relationships among communities which will lead to rural transformation.

Mr. Gulab Suryavanshi

Mr. Gulab Suryavanshi

Chief Officer: Finance

Mr. Gulab Suryavanshi is a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) graduate with over 25 years of accounting experience. He manages the entire accounting, financial and other government and regulatory authority compliance requirements of the foundation. Mr. Suryavanshi also lends critical coordination support on various projects undertaken by the foundation. “He also looks into donor reporting, vendor coordination, internal staff coordination and general management.” He is the operations backbone of the foundation.

Mr. Saif Shehabi and Mrs. Rashida Shehabi

Mr. Saif Shehabi and Mrs. Rashida Shehabi

Volunteer IT service providers, empowHER India

Saif, a software engineer, and Rashida, a dietitian, have been running their IT consulting firm, Graficali successfully since the past 20 years. Saif believes that software is an art and treats each client's problem as a canvas to paint a software solution on it. Rashida brings in the required creativity to not only give a good look and feel to that software solution but to enhance it with the required user experience. Inspired to give back to society, they have been involved with empowHER India’s work in providing skills to women in the villages of Panvel. They believe in absolute transparency in operation. Their ability to execute projects and get the work done has increased output at empowHER India at the grassroots level. This motivates them to do more work in this fast-growing organization.

Mr. Santosh Bhujbal

Mr. Santosh Bhujbal

Senior Officer, empowHER India

Mr Santosh Bhujbal works as a senior officer for empowHER India’s sanitation project Sanitation Project. With a Masters degree in Social Work from CSRD, Ahmednagar, he started his career by working with Chaitanya NGO and joined us in 2007. Mr Bhujbal enjoys working on the field, interacting with the beneficiaries and helping them get access to toilets by liaising with the local Gram Panchayat. He believes that villages are the future of India and an open defecation free village is the first positive step towards development of the country.

Mrs. Suvarna Shete

Mrs. Suvarna Shete

Senior Officer, Self Help Group (SHG)

Mrs. Suvarna Shete is a senior officer working as an advisor with empowHER India’s Self Help Groups. A B.Com graduate, she grew up watching her mother working in the social service sector. Upon completion of her studies, inspired by her mother, she joined Chaitanya (http://www.chaitanyaindia.org/publications), an NGO with which her mother has been associated. Here, she worked with SHGs, training women and formulating skill development programmes for them. She joined empowHER India in 2007, bringing her experience of working with SHGs, training women, conducting programmes among other responsibilities. She enjoys troubleshooting and likes to see smiles on the women’s faces when their problems have been solved.

Mr. Sandeep Prabhakar Salvi

Mr. Sandeep Prabhakar Salvi

Officer - Administration

Mr. Sandeep Salvi started his career with R.V. Enterprises as an accounts assistant before joining empowHER India in 1999. He has been with the foundation for the last 18 years.

Testimonials

  • I had the privilege of visiting Waghachi wadi village in Panvel with the SKS Chakshu foundation’s team. It was an extremely fulfilling experience . The dedication and the determination of this organisation with the main objective of bringing empowerment to women is heart-warming. The toilets being built will go a long way in giving dignity and respect to women and young girls and the education to these young children will give them the opportunity to find a brighter future.
    I would like to congratulate empowHER India’s entire team ‎for working towards this noble cause.

    Oisharya Das (Executive Vice President, Kotak Mahindra Bank - Wealth)
  • empowHER India, for us, has been the ideal partner organization. Their team is completely committed to the cause they work for. Their concern to ensure that everything is done for the best interest of their students is inspirational. No stone is left unturned and they are ready to go that extra mile. They work together as an excellent team and the results are fantastic — an amazing haven for children where each child has a smiling face and is getting quality education in a safe and beautiful environment. My heartiest congratulations to the trustees, staff and all connected with this great organisation. They have built a wonderful team.

    Arti Vakil (Wishing Well)
  • “We have a medical centre in our village that is run by empowHER India. It not only benefits the poor of our village but also those from the neighbouring villages. A doctor comes thrice a week to conduct check-ups. The cost of treatment is very less (INR. 10) and all — women, children and old people — are treated at this centre. We are grateful to empowHER India for having started this much-needed facility in our village.”

    Jijabai Bhagat (resident of Usarli Village)
  • “There is a river in our village which dries up in the summer. We have a well in the village, but it is not sufficient to fulfil our water requirement. In 2008, empowHER India started women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in our village and soon we formed five groups. In one of the meetings we decided to come together and dig a bore well in the village for community use. Since the cost was more than we could afford, empowHER India offered to help us with the expense. Thanks to them, a bore well was dug in 2009 and our water problem was solved.”

    Sangita Patil (Shri Ganesh SHG President, Umroli)
  • “Our main source of income is farming from June to November. During the rest of the year our field remains unused. An empowHER India worker suggested setting up a kitchen garden where we could grow vegetables for our own consumption. Since we have our own bore-well, we face no water shortage and therefore decided to implement the idea. Now, we have cut down on our expenses by growing our own vegetables and also have a steady income source by selling the excess throughout the year. Thanks to empowHER India, we are able to maximise the use of our land.”

    Seeta Mali (started kitchen garden, Umroli)
  • “I am a student of the Rakesh Jain Secondary School in Shivkar and I am extremely proud to study here. The facilities provided at our school are like those in city schools. Emphasis is given to all-round education. Facilities like a modern science lab, computer lab and equipment for different sports are also provided. The school also conducts IBT (Introduction to Basic Technology) courses that provide vocational training in knitting, embroidery, farming, welding, electrical repair, etc. This course prepares us to face the competitive world once we pass out of school. We thank empowHER India for giving us this opportunity.”

    Yogita Chandrakant Dhavale (student)
  • “I live with my parents and brother. My father works in a private company, while my mother is a housewife. I study at the Rakesh Jain Secondary School, where I learn technical jobs such as welding, repairing household appliances, fitting electrical boards etc, through the IBT training. I am motivated to learn these techniques as I know there are 25 per cent reserved seats in the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) for those with IBT training. This knowledge is also useful in everyday life. I can start my own business for electrical repairs. I know I have a chance of a good future now.”

    Satish Shankar Bhoir (student)
  • “We are farmers by profession but we couldn’t support ourselves by farming alone. We needed another source of income. I took a loan from a Self-Help Group of which I am a member and started a general store. Initially, I stocked only a handful of items but gradually I started stocking a variety of daily-need products. I now earn enough money to support my family and want to further expand my shop. Thanks to the guidance of empowHER India, I am financially stable and independent.”

    Asha Madhavi (general store owner, Umroli)