A Different Path for Rohit

“Coming from a business family, I never had any exposure to the nonprofit sector,“ admits Rohit Shinde. An independent spirit, Rohit decided early on to take a different path than his parents had planned for him. After earning a degree in hotel management and a PGDBA in human resources, Rohit went on to become a distinguished chef for some of Mumbai’s most renowned five-star hotels. It was his wife, a social worker, who would lead him down a different path altogether.

Rohit found himself helping women in the Dharavi slum through an initiative of YUVA (Youth for Unity and Volunteer Action), a nonprofit organization that provides aid to marginalized groups. “I instantly saw how livelihood opportunities don’t just change the future of an individual but of a whole family,” he recalls.

In 2010, Rohit joined Pratham as the academic head of its newly launched hospitality program. As part of a community outreach initiative, he visited Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district, where he mobilized 150 tribal youth. This collaboration between Pratham and the Gadchiroli district administration was awarded the prestigious Prime Minister’s award for excellence in public administration. “This was a turning point,” declares Rohit. “For the first time, we entered into a partnership with a district government. Our efforts were then successfully replicated in other states.”

Under Rohit’s leadership during the ensuing decade, hospitality would become Pratham’s largest, most successful vocational program, training more than 60,000 youth. Now the director of entrepreneurship development, Rohit is focused on repairing the damage caused by COVID-19. “2020 has imposed the most unexpected challenges on all of us,” he explains. “Businesses have been adversely affected, resulting in people losing their livelihoods and migrating back to their homes.”

A true visionary, Rohit’s goal now is to develop sustainable, home-based business models for those hit hardest by the pandemic. “I’m looking ahead,” he proclaims, “I want to help launch the next generation of entrepreneurs in India.”

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