The Sophia Team
The Sophia Team is a global community of passionate individuals committed to building sustainable paths out of poverty. We are based in the UK, Denmark and India.
CEO and Trustee
Shailendra is the Founder and Trustee of the Sophia Akash Foundation. Shailendra co-founded Saxo Bank and is instrumental to the successful deployment of financial technologies that has established the bank as a global leader in online investment banking and trading. Over the last 9 years, Shailendra has led Project Sophia and supported over 65 social enterprises come to the market across Africa and Asia.
Ian is a renowned expert in inclusive capital and social impact investment with over 10 years' experience in the impact investing field at Morgan Stanley, Omidyar Network, and Enclude. During this time, Ian has been a long-standing advisor to Project Sophia and the Sophia Akash Foundation.
Hemant is an Information Technology leader with over 25 year’s experience in IT. He has wide ranging expertise developed in International corporations including those with humanitarian visions, especially in technology solutions development, large systems deployment, and cloud infrastructure and technologies. He is currently engaged in innovating IoT (Internet of Things) platform value-chains.
Bella was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Sophia Akash Foundation at its incorporation. Bella takes whatever opportunities she can to alert people to the importance and innovative nature of the Foundation's work.
She studied History at Oxford University, Law at BPP and Rural Estate Management at the Royal Agricultural University. She qualified as a solicitor specializing in litigation with Herbert Smith Freehills. She has sat on various charitable boards for the past 12 years. She hopes and believes that her skills and experience in law, strategy and governance, as well as her passion for social inclusion, are helpful in her role on the board.
“Sophia Akash works with entrepreneurs to create successful businesses that make real and lasting impact in the areas in which they work. I feel incredibly privileged to be part of this journey.”
Secretary and Trustee
Will is a barrister specialising in charity, company and commercial work.He is on the executive committee of the Charity Law Association in UK, and has been co-chair of its annual conference in 2017 and 2018. Will has volunteered with international development organisations since age 15, invested significant funds in technology colleges in Ethiopia and is approaching 20 years' experience as a charity trustee.
"I am really happy to work as part of a committed and imaginative trustee board, in support of wonderful objectives. I have followed Project Sophia's activities for a number of years and it is great to now see the Foundation at the head of mission. I look forward to the establishment of the social enterprise fund, as part of a strategy to maximise impact."
Ryan is about to start his final year studying at UCL. His course is called Arts and Sciences and he first became interested in development whilst travelling on a gap year and has since taken multiple modules covering Development, Urban Inequalities and Quantitative Analysis. He believes that helping social enterprises scale and innovate is a steppingstone towards a more effective and empowering form of charity. Through approaching these communities with humility, he believes that trust can be effectively established, facilitating long-term progression out of poverty.
Aoife became interested in the impact development sector while studying for her master’s degree in International Politics (MSc) at SOAS, University of London. She is passionate towards supporting early-stage social enterprises in the developing world tackle climate change. Aoife believes that grass-roots responses to this global challenge are the most effective way in building a brighter and more sustainable future for rural, unserved communities.
Communications and Programme Development
Ynaiita has completed her Master’s in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London, focusing on climate policy, water management and conflict, and environment and development. She believes that there is a need for a humanitarian response to address the impacts of the climate crisis on vulnerable communities. She aims to work for the socio-economic development of tribal communities in north-east India.
Project Management and Fundraising
Shimona has completed her master's in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London. She believes that social enterprises have the ability to tackle global issues and provide solutions to foster sustainable development. She aspires to be a social entrepreneur that works towards creating job opportunities for rural women in India.
Business Development Advisor
Dinu is an experienced Strategist with 23 years' experience in Strategy Consulting and Corporate Strategy in India and the Middle East. He has worked with and held leadership positions in leading consulting firms and corporates across multiple sectors such as economic development, sustainable agriculture and agribusiness. Dinu is presently also the Head of Strategy & Consulting at CSDE (Center for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship) in Bengaluru.
SE Development and Fundraising
Joyce completed her master's degree in South Asian Studies at SOAS, focusing on the intersection between caste and gender inequality in India. She has now joined SAF to learn how social entrepreneurs in developing countries work with communities to empower underserved populations and tackle injustices.