Ajay Banga sat down with Lata Krishnan and Ajay Shah to discuss the importance of investing for strong US-India relations at American India Foundation’s Bay Area Spring Celebration. This fireside chat highlighted an impressive $5 million contribution from the Krishnan-Shah Family towards AIF’s Fellowship to further strengthen civil society with socially engaged, global citizens for the next 10 years. This comes as a timely opportunity in bolstering dialogue between the world’s largest democracies as each looks to rebuild following the Covid-19 pandemic. Here is a look into the exciting conversation between distinguished members of the Indian diaspora.
What has inspired your continued philanthropy with AIF for the past 20 years?
AIF is a philanthropic platform in the US to tackle poverty holistically: through education, health solutions, and economic empowerment. AIF influences the ecosystem, bringing people from all walks of life together in a movement to end poverty and transform India into an equitable society. It is a collective philanthropic model today: leveraging government and corporate resources and building solutions through partnerships with hundreds of organizations across India.
Such innovations include quality care for expecting mothers and newborns in the remotest regions of India, making entire districts child-migration free, bridging the digital divide in India’s classrooms, and investing in youth with disabilities to secure gainful employment in India’s blossoming industries. Over the past 20 years, we’ve impacted more than 6.7 million lives from across 26 states of India, resourcing over $118 million from the diaspora towards our cause, and working hand in hand with over 293 non-government organizations on the ground to make our collective vision a reality.
What has inspired you to spearhead the Fellowship Program?
The Fellowship has provided an innovation lab of sorts to engage our fellows with challenges on the ground and offer creative solutions. Through service, we have made powerful investments in the US India citizen diplomacy by shaping the next generation of leaders. Leaders who will be more inclusive and socially minded advocates to collaboratively solve the most pressing challenges. We have had over 490 Fellows with 214 host organizations across 25 states.
Furthermore, 75 percent of our alumni have continued a career or service. SO many social entrepreneurs have been born out of this program. We have sensitized the nextgen of CSR and impact investing professionals to grassroot challenges and closed the gap between corporate goals and development sector needs.
How is AIF investing in the future of US-India Diplomacy?
The US-India partnership historically has been strongly rooted in the shared values of democracy and the promise of innovation. To be sustainable, our solutions must be inclusive and equitable. That’s why we invest in people-to-people ties between the US and India to translate ideas into tangible impact.
With this in mind the team has identified a name for the rebranded Fellowship program that we feel embodies our core values: AIF Banyan Impact Fellowship. The Banyan Tree is a majestic symbol of growth, sustenance, and longevity. It has an intricate ecosystem that grows with each other, and grows stronger across generations. Personally, the process of the Banyan Tree spreading its roots, which over the course of time become trees of their own, is such a strong representation of how we want to see this program growing. Mandela said “each one of us has our own light and if we let ourselves shine we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same. Our Fellows and the communities they work with will do exactly that.
We don’t see a better platform than AIF to innovate and build robust programs that address issues of poverty and disparity in a sustainable way.
The American India Foundation is committed to improving the lives of India’s underprivileged, with a special focus on women, children, and youth. AIF does this through high impact interventions in education, health, and livelihoods, because poverty is multidimensional. AIF’s unique value proposition is its broad engagement between communities, civil society, and expertise, thereby building a lasting bridge between the United States and India. AIF has impacted 6.7 million lives across 26 states of India. To learn more and get involved, visit AIF and help transform the lives of millions in India, one at a time.
Lata Krishnan is a private investor and original co-founder in the Krishnan-Shah Family Office, and helped start Shah Capital Partners. Lata is the Founder, former President, and current Co-Chair of the non-profit organization American India Foundation. She serves on the Boards of The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, the Opportunity Fund, the Asian Art Museum and is a Fellow with the American Leadership Forum.
Ajay Shah joined Silver Lake, a global private equity investment firm in 2007, and is the co-founder and Managing Partner of the firm’s middle market growth fund, Silver Lake Sumeru. Ajay Shah serves on the board of the National Audubon Society and the Indian School of Business (ISB). He also is a member of the Advisory board for the Stanford Research Institutes. He is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum and is a Trustee of the American India Foundation.
Ajay Shah, Lata Krishnan, and Ajay Banga are featured on the Indiaspora Philanthropy Leaders List, which spotlights 100 leaders of the Indian diaspora who have made a significant impact with their philanthropic contributions and engagement.