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Webinar: Social entrepreneurship & women's empowerment in India
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Webinar: Social entrepreneurship & women's empowerment in India

Activist to Entrepreneur: The role of social enterprise in supporting women's entrepreneurship in India

When: Wednesday, November 29, 2017
3:00PM to 4:30PM IST / 9:30AM to 11:00AM GMT
Where: Online, registration link:
Contact: Devyani

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*Update* Download the newly launched executive summary of the report here!

Join select panelists for a discussion inspired by the British Council's new report - 'Activist to Entrepreneur: The role of social enterprise in supporting women's entrepreneurship in India'. 

The report significantly expands knowledge of the role that social enterprise plays in empowering women and girls in India - notably, by delivering training and creating jobs, by providing a source of funding for women's rights organisations, and by changing the power dynamic seen in other philanthropic models between the 'empowerer' and the 'empowered'.

See below for a list of confirmed speakers. More will be announced in the coming weeks.

Moderator: Gillian Cowell

Gillian Cowell is Head Gender & Inclusion at the British Council.

In this role she leads the strategy for the British Council’s  work on gender equality and empowering women and girls.  She also provides technical inputs to the design and delivery of programmes focused on women and girls as well as providing support to gender mainstreaming on British Council funded programmes. She has also commissioned and input into research reports and learning from practice papers which support the British Council’s work to share knowledge and understanding on gender equality in the UK and worldwide.  Gill has over 20 experience of working in international development by taking various programme and project management roles with the British Council.  She has worked in  Romania, Turkey and the Middle East, leading British Council’s programmes focused on governance and social development.  This has included designing and leading programmes focused on child protection, addressing violence against women and girls (VAWG), women’s leadership, girls education and empowerment of women and girls.   She has a Masters in Development Management.


  • Mark Richardson - Director, Social Impact Consulting
  • Mark Richardson - Director, Social Impact Consulting
  • James Rajanayagam - Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship, IIT Madras
  • Isabel Salovaara - ‎Assistant Director, Jindal Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Vanita Vishwanath - Board Member, Jagriti

Mark Richardson – Director, Social Impact Consulting

Mark led this research across five countries. He is an award-winning social entrepreneur, researcher, and consultant with expertise in social enterprise, social replication, and impact measurement. As Director of Social Enterprise at Bangor University he launched the Masters in Social Enterprise and is leading the development of a three million Euro social enterprise accelerator. He has written reports on social enterprise and social investment for Big Society Capital, the National Housing Federation, and Big Lottery and co-wrote the British Council’s vision paper ‘What Will Social Enterprise Look Like in Europe by 2020’, and his summary of social enterprise in the UK is used by policy makers and practitioners globally. Mark has worked with over a hundred social enterprises on business planning, sustainability, governance, and legal structure and through his work on scale and replication is considered a leading authority on social franchising. In 2015, he was made an Honorary Research Fellow at Bangor University.

Isabel Salovaara – Assistant Director, Jindal Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (JSiE)

Isabel Salovaara coordinates the research efforts at the JSiE, which span a variety of discipline areas, from innovations in internet-based pedagogy to women’s leadership in the social enterprise sector. Isabel also contributes to JSiE’s enterprise education and incubation initiatives. Concurrently with her work in JSiE, Isabel is a Senior Research Associate at the Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities and teaches a course on community engagement. Isabel completed her B.A in History from Harvard University in 2012. Supported by a Harvard Pforzheimer Fellowship, she subsequently worked with a nonprofit organization in Delhi dedicated to implementing interventions to improve the lives of slum residents. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright-Nehru Research Grant to study private tuitions in Delhi and a Gates Scholarship to pursue her MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.


James Rajanayagam – Senior Project Advisor, Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at IIT Madras

James is an innovation consultant in the development sector with 10 years of experience in promoting small enterprises and non-profit organizations that provide social welfare such as health, livelihood, and jobs. His core expertise is in formulating market-based solutions for the development of social welfare indicators. In this capacity, he has helped raise grants and equity for for-profit and non-profit enterprises in sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, construction materials, dairy, and healthcare. He has also mentored these enterprises for business development support. He brings extensive network from financing institutions, for-profit and non-profit organizations, educational institutions and government. He has recently contributed a chapter for a book published by SAGE. Earlier, James was with Reliance Industries in the petrochemical sector for 10 years. James is a Textile Technologist with an MBA in Technology & Innovation Management obtained from Germany.



Vanita Viswanath - Board Member, Jagriti Group

Vanita Viswanath is a social entrepreneur and mentor to social enterprises. She is the strategic and operational advisor for the Jagriti group that includes, Jagriti Yatra, Jagriti Enterprise Center, and Jagriti Enterprise Network (of entrepreneurs and mentors across India).

She conceptualized and led Udyogini, an enterprise-NGO based in Delhi, for 14 years working to build women through skill and entrepreneurship training and enterprise value chains in rural areas of central and north Indian states. She has been a member of the Working Group on Clustering and Aggregation for the the Govt. of India’s 12th Five Year Plan, was recognized as a finalist of the World Economic Forum Schwab Foundation India Social Entrepreneur of the Year award 2012, and is a recipient of The International Alliance of Women, Washington D.C, World of Difference Award 2013. Vanita received her PhD from the University of Texas, Austin, USA and has published widely, lectured in leading universities such as Yale and Columbia  and presented papers in conferences worldwide, most recently (June 2016) at the Sixth Subsistence Marketplaces conference at the School of Business, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, USA.