A Robert S McNamara Fellow of the World Bank, Manoj Kumar is the founding CEO of Naandi Foundation, arguably the largest multi sector non-profit in India. Focused on poverty reduction through initiatives for empowering girls, women and farmers, Naandi in 25 years has impacted over 8 million lives.
Manoj spearheaded the transformation of over 2000 villages in tribal Araku Valley region in the Eastern Ghats combating poverty, Naxal insurgency, and ecological fragility. This two-decade effort resulted in the creation of ARAKU Coffee, a globally acclaimed brand that liberated 300,000 tribal lives out of poverty and put India on the world map of specialty coffee. The ARAKU brand’s retail avatar that started in Paris in 2017 is now in a full fledged restaurant format in Bengaluru and Mumbai.
The regenerative agriculture framework – Arakunomics, eponymously named after the Araku region, has been expanded to rural and urban India. This framework won the world Food Vision Prize in 2020 instituted by the New York headquartered Rockefeller Foundation.
Recognized as a McNulty Laureate and a Fellow of The Aspen Institute, Manoj co-founded Naandi Water, India’s largest community safe drinking water company, in partnership with the Paris headquartered Group Danone.
Manoj was named by the Financial Times, London as one of the 25 people to watch out for in India.
A Masters of Social Work from Delhi University, Rohini Mukherjee has been active in a range of critical roles within Naandi Foundation over the last 17 years. Currently, she leads the Policy and Strategy Cell and in her role as Naandi’s Chief Policy Officer has overseen the successful completion of two large-scale surveys; The HUNGaMA (Hunger and Malnutrition) Survey & the 2018 TAG (Teen Age Girls) Survey.
In her previous roles, she led a large RCT (randomized control trial) to test solutions to neonatal mortality – carried out in 460 villages of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, in partnership with London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She was also at the helm of the World Bank-funded action research ‘Bachpan Project’ in backward blocks of Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, to establish most efficient ways of extending government services for child development to families living below the poverty line.
Before joining Naandi, Rohini worked in rural West Bengal for over 14 years, as a founding member of a grassroots community group. A state level swimmer, Rohini has base level training in classical music and mountaineering.
With a solid work experience spanning over 7 years in the areas of IT & business in the US, Anupama Sreeramaneni joined Naandi’s Livelihoods division as a Volunteer in 2009. Combining her diverse work experience with a degree in Engineering & Management, she was able to effectively rise to the role of a core member in Naandi’s Senior Management team.
Anupama heads the Production, Ops, Certifications and Audits for Naandi’s coffee project, and was part of the core team which led Araku Coffee’s successful retail launch in Paris & India. Having spent around 10 years in Naandi, Anupama, fondly referred to as Anu by her colleagues, has been instrumental in exploring popular B2B markets across South Asia & Europe for Araku Coffee. Anu also heads the Ops team for the agroforestry venture under Naandi Livelihoods.
The care-taker of 40,000 farmer families that work with Naandi in the Araku region, Anu is a multi-tasker par excellence. In her spare time, she enjoys playing badminton, travelling, and socialising.
An innate problem-solver, Vikash leads the Urban Farms Co project at Naandi. He believes that soil fertility, the environment, farmers and consumers should be in a symbiotic relationship, which can lead to an agricultural model that is profitable, scalable, convenient and health-centric.
Prior to Naandi, Vikash spent 15 years managing operations, sales and marketing in organizations like Volvo, Akamai and IBM. After thriving in the automobile and IT services industries, Vikash was immersed in security solutions to thwart modern-day technology hackers. He is an engineer from NIT Trichy and enjoys playing his guitar and cross country motorcycling.
Raheel joined Naandi as the Executive Assistant to the CEO in 2016. As a part of this, he spent 2 years travelling across the country to listen to the communities that Naandi works with. In 2018, he began heading Finance, Accounts and Quality Cell at Naandi. His work involves developing innovative funding and project implementation techniques to ensure maximising impact while minimising costs. In addition to being the Chief Finance Officer at Naandi, Raheel is the CFO for Naandi’s newest agriculture & food safety initiative, Urban Farms Co.
A chartered accountant by education, Raheel is responsible to ensure that we put our resources to the best use. Raheel had stints in audit and corporate finance with Deloitte and Cummins before joining Naandi. Having represented his home state of Maharashtra in football and badminton both, he is a sportsman at heart.
Radha Varadarajan is the Chief Skills Officer at Naandi Foundation which she joined in 2017. The projects in her portfolio support government, government aided and rural institutions build capacity and train their students in becoming industry ready.
She is also an organic agriculture enthusiast and is part of a farmers’ collective in Kanchipuram. She has an MPhil in International Development with a focus on Sustainable Development from the University of Madras.
Radhika comes to Naandi with 22 years of work experience in various leadership roles, many of them entrepreneurial. An alumnus of the famous Rishi Valley School and National Institute of Fashion Technology, Radhika who has a double Masters degree in English and Technical Translation is fluent in French apart from most of the South Indian languages. In recent years, Radhika has taken up running as a new passion.
Radhika is the newest member on Naandi’s leadership team and heads operations for the Nanhi Kali programme for the south of India.
David heads the Livelihoods division of Naandi Foundation as its Chief Agriculture Advisor. In the course of David’s 50 years in India he has been appointed to the Indian Coffee Board Advisory Council for the Palni Region from 2003, Co-Director of the BASIL Academy, Mysore and has been a past consultant to SRTT, IFAD and FAO. His special interest has been to apply organic principles to the various fields of agriculture and develop organic protocols for sustainable coffee production in the Palnis to ensure product quality.
In David’s role at Naandi he oversees sustainable livelihoods for small and marginal farmers and gives expert input in supply chain management and the importance of shared value to ensure agriculture is profitable.
Daljit Singh joined Naandi in 2018 as a part-time consultant before transitioning to a full-time Agronomy Advisor in 2021 with the responsibility of spreading Naandi’s Regenerative Agriculture portfolio pan India.
Daljit has a 37 years of diverse agricultural work experience in Agri-business Operations, R&D, Procurement, Supply Chain Management, and Sales with some of India’s biggest corporates – Mahindra Agri, Bharti Delmonte, Avantha, Technico (ITC), and more. Daljit’s core competencies lie in developing agri startups, expanding crop portfolios, and turning around non-profitable businesses.
Nevin began his career in the creative field as the Art Director for Ogilvy & Mather where he worked for over 10 years. He followed this up with stints with Microsoft India and Deloitte before quitting his full-time job to become a creative consultant.
Nevin’s association with Naandi is almost two decades old, however, he formally came on board in 2016. In his role as Chief Creative Consultant, he directs Naandi’s creative output, working closely with the communications team to develop the design strategy. A skilful photographer, Nevin has a keen eye for all things art.