Episode 24 Interview with Aishwarya Ratan, Director of the Global Financial Inclusion Initiative at Yale University

Aishwarya is the Director of the Global Financial Inclusion Initiative at Yale University. The Global Financial Inclusion Initiative focuses on the design and delivery of effective financial services for the poor. It tests and replicates different policies and approaches to help the poor manage and grow their money and to ensure that the financial services available are affordable, efficient, and secure. Prior to joining the Global Financial Inclusion Initiative, Aishwarya was at the Microsoft Research Lab in Bangalore, India.aishwarya_ratan

In this interview, Aishwarya discusses:

  • The importance of households savings for the poor
  • The scale of the challenge and key pain points
  • The barriers for the poor to access the formal financial sector
  • Progress that has been made dealing with behavioural barriers

Episode 23 Interview with Akshay Saxena, cofounder and President of Avanti Learning Centers

Avanti provides low-income high-school students a world-class science and mathematics education in India. It has a radical approach to teaching: with no trained teachers and very little conventional lecturing and yet students perform at par with some of the most expensive after-school programs in India. Avanti runs stand-alone centers in Mumbai, Delhi and Kanpur and in-school centers at the Chennai Corporation Schools-where the focus is on teaching students how to learn from books and their peers Prior to his work at Avanti, Akshay served on the founding team of HeartFlow a venture-backed medical diagnostics company. For his work at Avanti, he was awarded the Draper Richards Kaplan Fellowship and Echoing Green Fellowship in 2012. In this interview Akshay, discusses:akshay-saxena pic

  • Avanti’s approach to collaborative learning
  • Why collaborative learning works so well
  • How Avanti’s approach to innovation was driven by necessity
  • What keeps Akshay motivated
  • The importance of setting boundaries
  • Avanti’s goal to teach a million children

Episode 22 Interview with Michael Thornton, CEO of Carbon Analytics

Michael Thornton is an engineer with a background in sustainable infrastructure design. He is Chief Executive Officer of Carbon Analytics – a company that wants to make it easier for companies of all sizes to reap the rewards of managing their environmental impact. He is also involved with Odyssey Sensors, which is developing low-cost environmental technology aimed at bottom-of-the-pyramid producers in developing world agriculture and aquaculture markets, and Terra Recovery a startup working on developing a technology that identifies land-fills which can be economically mined for resources.

Michael was a Skoll Scholar for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford where he recently graduated

In this interview, Michael discusses:  66981_549300091790882_480686602_n

  • The competitive advantage social businesses have compared to traditional businesses
  • The value of doing an MBA for a social entrepreneur
  • Why companies offering environmental services also need to be able to improve their clients’ bottom line
  • How to raise money through grants and competitions


Episode 21 interview with Sandra Bates, author of The Social Innovation Imperative

Sandra is an innovation entrepreneur and author who has worked in innovation and marketing strategy for more than fifteen years. She has coached and led more than a hundred innovation initiatives with dozens of companies with a rich history of innovation.

Sandra has recently turned her focus to the needs of the social sector and founded The Innovation Partners, a group focused on generating social impact through innovation. Her book The Social Innovation Imperative provides social entrepreneurs with a step–by-step approach to developing breakthrough products, programs, and services to meet society’s needs.

In this interview, Sandra discusses:

  • Sandra’s framework for social innovation
  • The Plumpy’Nut story
  • The challenge of dealing with big wicked problems
  • The importance of assessing unmet needs
  • The difference between synergistic needs and conflicting needs


Episode 20 Interview with Mike Marriner, founder of Roadtrip Nation

Mike set up Roadtrip Nation to helping students “define their own roads in life,”The initial aim was to expose students to myriad careers and life paths they would not otherwise know about and to help equip them with tools and skills they need to achieve their ambitions

It all began in 1991 when Mike and some friends set off in an RV to interview leaders across America and learn how they found their roads in life. To date, in partnership with the California Department of Education, the curriculum has guided over 80,000 low-income students in building their own Roadtrip Projects

In this interview, Mike talks about: Mike Marriner_headshot website_0

  • The power of persistence
  • How Road Trip Nation grew in its early days
  • Why you should treat everyone with respect
  • The power of magnifying what you believe in
  • The power of apprenticeship