Neera’s first grassroots experience of rural India was with the day school for Adivasi children her mother set up near Kharagpur, West Bengal. It was also how she began to particularly empathise with the lives of others, eventually transitioning from her investment banking job in the US to co-found Dasra in 1999, to accelerate social change by driving collaborative action among a trust-based network of stakeholders.
Neera leads Dasra’s ecosystem-building initiatives in the areas of Adolescents, Urban Sanitation, and Democracy & Governance and facilitates collaborative platforms by engaging donors, non-profits, government and other stakeholders. In 2016, she initiated the Dasra Adolescents Collaborative, an impact-driven platform that has united institutional funders, technical experts, government stakeholders from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and several social organizations to focus on four key outcomes for adolescent empowerment.
She initiated and led the launch of the Dasra Social Impact Leadership Program with Harvard Business Publishing, a first-of-its-kind executive education program for social sector leaders in India. Internally, she has supported the analysis of over 70 Dasra sector reports on education, health and livelihoods, enabling over USD 44 million in funding for hundreds of social enterprises.
She has been critical in establishing partnerships with global leaders such as Harvard University, Stanford University, USAID, Omidyar Network and the Gates Foundation to push the boundaries of social impact in India. Closer to the ground, she has worked with Dasra's portfolio organizations such as Educate Girls, SNEHA, Sarathi and Aangan to refine their strategies and accelerate their growth by 10-20x.
Neera holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School, is an Indian Leadership Initiative Fellow with Aspen Institute, and is an elected executive committee member of Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs. She is a recipient of the Canadian Governor General's Medallion for her dedication to addressing India’s critical Development challenges, and the Forbes Philanthropy Award in the Crossover Leaders category for 2014.
A couple of years into his first job at Morgan Stanley in New York, Deval Sanghavi realized he wanted to be in India, to focus on the lives of the many millions that live without dignity and equity. So the Texas-born investment banker packed up, came to Mumbai, and co-founded Dasra.
It’s very first workshop, for around 20 non-profit organizations working with children, was to support them in learning from each other – and this collaborative, learning philosophy remains central to how Dasra functions today, nurturing powerful partnerships among stakeholders across the spectrum – including government, donors, organizations, experts and the media.
Deval leads Dasra’s strategic philanthropy efforts, and provides foreign and domestic philanthropists with informed investment strategies for the social sector – with human lives as the center of all of its thinking. Since 1999, he has directed over USD 72 million to the Indian social sector; incubated and launched the Dasra Philanthropy Forum and Dasra Philanthropy Week; initiated the Dasra Giving Circle, India’s largest collaborative giving platform; and launched the Dasra Changemakers program, a peer-led learning platform aimed at inspiring philanthropists to take bold action to solve some of India’s most pressing problems.
Deval holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a dual Honors degree in Business and Finance from the University of Texas, Austin, is a Cordes Fellow, and a founding board member of Magic Bus and Villgro. In 2014, he was awarded the Forbes Philanthropy Award in the 'Crossover Leaders' category for successfully transitioning from investment banking to the non-profit sector.
Sekhar is Chief Operating Officer at Dasra, where he leads the Institution Building practice, which covers Technology, Finance, Operations, Compliance and Governance; he also leads the Capacity Building practice, which supports Dasra’s partner NGOs to sustain their growth phase.
Sekhar says, “My field experiences as CSR head at HDFC Life – working closely with partner NGOs in education, health, livelihoods and environment sustainability – were the tipping point in my decision to join the social sector. In my 18 months of leading the division, alongside my other roles, I made site visits to remote areas and met smart, inspiring leaders from the social sector. In India especially, we quickly become blind to inequality, and conditioned to ignore the injustices we witness every day.”
Sekhar comes with 24 years of corporate experience in the BFSI segment, spanning the range from startups to large institutions such as National Stock Exchange, Deutsche Bank and HDFC Life. During that time, he has created measurable and sustainable impact through large-scale implementation of process, technology and people solutions. He has also been recognized by the Association of Talent Development for his work in capacity development with multiple citations for excellence in practice and has been a speaker at international fora on capability strategies for emerging economies.
He holds a bachelor of Commerce degree and is a Cost and Works Accountant (ICWAI) and Chartered Financial Analyst (ICFAI).
Natasha leads the Strategic Philanthropy team, which partners with Ultra High-Net Worth and High-Net Worth individuals, Corporates and Family Foundations on their philanthropic journeys. The team also brings together stakeholders in the development sector together to place impact at the center of all decision making.
Natasha has three decades of experience in financial services with a long record of driving business strategies, and a personal enthusiasm for business enhancement.
Her experience in financial services covers both commercial banking and cash management transaction banking across industry segments including Consumer Brands, Retail, Insurance, Telecom, Technology, and Oil and Gas.
She has also partnered with corporate clients to advance their social agendas - . She has worked with Unilever and NGOs Grassroots and SEWA to build a platform between SEWA and Unilever to market products; engaged with National Dairy Development Board to design a smart card for retail milk sales across all Mother Dairy milk booths in Delhi; was part of the core working group formed by the RBI to commercialize RTGS across India, and later the creation of the National Payments Corporation of India; partnered with Mandeshi Cooperative to design and create a cash management system to service its rural borrowers; partnered with ITC to create a cash management system to service eChoupal HUBS and farmers in states across India.
Natasha has a PhD in French Literature from the Sorbonne University in Paris.