AVPN Global Conference 2023 | 20 - 22 June 2023


AVPN Fireside Chat: Are Farm Ponds the Key to Rural Youth Empowerment in India?

By Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN)


Online and India

Date & time

22 October 2020



22 October 2020


About this event

Register Now

As India continues to grapple with the pandemic that has sent millions of migrant workers back to rural villages, extreme poverty and inequality threaten an entire generation.
Can rural entrepreneurship be the key to resilience in rural India? Can smallholder agriculture be made profitable enough to stop rural migrants from returning to the cities for their livelihoods?

Join AVPN in a fireside chat with the philanthropist, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist Dr. Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, as he shares his vision on the importance of skilling rural youth for entrepreneurship and his foundation’s approach to revitalizing drought-prone rural villages through Farm Ponds. Vivek Pawar, CEO of Deshpande Foundation, will join the conversation to share plans to scale this innovative model from 6,000 to 100,000 farm ponds in the next 5 years (FY 2021-2026).

Expect to leave the session knowing more about:

  • Dr. Deshpande’s journey towards promoting youth entrepreneurship and his perspective on leveraging technology and innovation to scale the social sector
  • The importance of co-creating solutions with the communities they seek to serve
  • How like-minded funders can join with Deshpande Foundation and HDFC, Karnataka Grameen Vikas Bank (KGVB), and Nabfin to scale the Farm Pond Initiative and layer on top additional interventions for rural villages from education to health
Dr. Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande,
Trustee, Deshpande Foundation,
President & Chairman, Sparta Group LLC

Dr. Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande is a Trustee of the Deshpande Foundation.He is also the President and Chairman of Sparta Group LLC, a family investment office, and the Chairman of Tejas Networks. Desh’s entrepreneurial career spans the last three decades. He was involved as the founder, a founding investor, or chairman of several companies including Cascade Communications, Sycamore Networks, Coral Networks, Tejas Networks, Cimaron, Webdialogs, Airvana, Sandstone Capital, A123 Systems, and Curata. Desh co-chaired a National Council to support President Obama’s innovation and entrepreneurship strategy from 2010 to 2015. Desh lives in Boston and serves as a life member of the MIT Corporation, and his support allowed MIT to create its Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation.

Vivek Pawar,
CEO and Managing Trustee,
Deshpande Foundation

Vivek Pawar is currently CEO and Managing Trustee of Deshpande Foundation, Chairman Emeritus & Founder of Sankalp Semiconductor. Deshpande foundation is working in development sector to impact bottom of pyramid 1.1 Billion people through Agriculture, Micro-entrepreneurship and Skilling for employability. He founded Sankalp in 2005 and over a span of 10 years he has established multiple centres across India and world such as Germany, Canada, California and Texas USA including 4 acrossIndia. Currently Sankalp with 900+ engineers is largest independent Analog semiconductor design service provider company in the world and is being acquired by HCL. A multiple awards winner, Vivek completed BE (E&T/C) from the College Of Engineering Pune (COEP) and MTech at IIT Kharagpur.

Allison Hollowell, (Moderator)
Chief Product Officer,

Allison is the Chief Product Officer at AVPN, overseeing the development and expansion of AVPN’s core products and services that support the full spectrum of social investors in Asia.

In her role as Chief Strategy Officer from 2018-2020, Allison led the organisation’s market expansion efforts, developing a global footprint with representatives across 13 markets.

Coming to the organisation with a decade of corporate marketing and brand management experience, Allison has been the steward of AVPN’s brand strategy since 2016 and continues to oversee marketing and events in her role as CPO.

Other Events

You might also be interested in

16 May 2024

Restoring Equilibrium: SVCA 2024 Annual Conference – Seeking Balance in A Turbulent World

23 April 2024

AVPN Global Conference 2024

Signature Event