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


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 shared 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, joined the conversation and shared plans to scale this innovative model from 6,000 to 100,000 farm ponds in the next 5 years (FY 2021-2026).

Key Takeaways:

  • 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


A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training

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