Prema Gopalan, Executive director

PremaGopalan, SSP founder and executive director, has more than two decades of top-level managerial and field development expertise.  Since 1993, Gopalan has led SSP in partnering with the Indian government, global organizations and grassroots women’s networks to leverage rural women’s perspectives and decision-making in disaster rehabilitation, micro-finance, social business and community health.

Gopalan is a steering committee member of GROOTS International (Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood), a network of grassroots women’s organizations in 40 countries, and the Huairou Commission’s Global Program on Women and its Community Resilience Program. She is a key facilitator of Disaster Watch, a Huairou Commission initiative that promotes global exchange and evaluation of disaster-to-development policies and programs, a former consultant to the Indian government’s Critical Evaluation of Outcomes of the Disaster Risk Management Programme, and former member of the World Bank’s Advisory Panel to the disaster team.

Gopalan’s strategic initiatives have improved the lives of 60,000 rural women and their families in India, as well as countless others internationally. For her efforts she has received numerous honors, including finalist for the Khemka Foundation’s 2008 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the 2007 Mary Fran Myers Award for Gender and Disaster..Gopalan earned an MSW from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.


Mr. Baby Varghese, Administrator

Mr. Baby Varghese is the Administrator and Financial Manager of Swayam Shikshan Prayog. In his position, he is in charge of all the administration, finance and accounting, audit etc assisted by a team of Accounts Assistants at Field Project Offices. He has 20 years of experience in managing financial systems and external donor funds in non–profit organizations namely SPARC Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centers and SSP. Varghese earned a post graduation (M.Com) from Kerala University.


Rajesh Badakh, CEO,Sakhi Samudaya Kosh

Rajesh Badakh is CEO of Sakhi Samudaya Kosh, the microfinance affiliate of SSP.  In this position, Badakh develops strategies to mobilize SSK funding and supervise its operations and expansion. From 2007-2008, Badakh worked as project manager of ParvatiSwayamrojgaar, a micro-finance organization; as assistant manager of Sampada Trust, an affiliate of Watershed Organization Trust, from 2003 -2007, and as senior project manager of Watershed Organization from 2000 – 2003.  As part of Sampada Trust, Badakh headed up the firm’s micro-insurance division and “AmhiLekiAhilyacha,” a retail marketing outlet for rural women entrepreneurs; as part of Watershed Organization, he identified and evaluated Self Help Group micro-finance and loan operations. Badakh has a Masters in Management Science and a Bachelors in Commerce, both from Pune University, and a post-graduate diploma in management from Pune Business University. 


Upmanyu Patil, CEO, Sakhi Retail Pvt.Ltd

UpmanyuPatil, CEO of Sakhi Retail Private Limited, has been working with SSP since 1994.  Patil became CEO of Sakhi Retail when it became an independent entity in 2009.  In this position he is responsible for the organization’s strategic planning, operations, corporate partnerships, training, and business development.  In addition, Patil has 16 years experience in disaster mitigation, rural and environmental development, and water and sanitation management for community and local governments, particularly in state and district technical assistance plans that mobilize women’s networks, communal, and panchayat raj institutions (PRI) participation in 200 communities. Patil earned a diploma of civil engineering from Government Polytechnic College, Bidar, and a post-graduate diploma in business administration from Symbiosis Pune University.


Laxmikant Malvadkar,CEO, Sakhi Social Enterprise Network

Laxmikant Malvadkar, with SSP since 1994, has been CEO of Sakhi Social Enterprise Network since 2009.  In this capacity, he oversees a gamut of basic business, vocational and entrepreneurship training programs for rural women collectives and youth in Latur, and is responsible for developing training material and liaising with government and technical institutions.  Malvadkar previously was SSP’s district coordinator for Nanded and Latur, where he liaised between the community and the earthquake department.

From 1993-1997, Malvadkar was a coordinator for the Earthquake Rehabilitation Project in Latur and Osmanabad, implementing SamvadSahayak—communications assistance. From 2001-2004, he was involved in developing the community operational manual for the Jalswarajya project, a community water management and sanitation project supported by the World Bank; from 1989-1994, he managed the Indian government-supported Marathwada Regional Day Care Center’s training operations in AntarBharti. Malvadkar has a BA in Hindi and a Master of Computer Management, both from Swami Ramanand Tirth Marathwada University, Nanded.

Naseem Shaikh, CEO, Sakhi Arogya Samudaya Trust

Naseem S. Shaikh, CEO of Sakhi Arogya Samudaya Trust since its inception in 2009 has been with SSP since 1996. An expert in community mobilization and participatory planning, Shaikh has been conceptualizing, designing and managing community-wide capacity-building interventions in disaster management and community health, particularly in the water and sanitation sectors, for since 1996. She has expertise in designing village sanitation programs, developing curricula and manuals for 4,000 village water and sanitation committees, reaching 8,000 women community women in health and sanitation issues, and developing post-disaster rehabilitation efforts for 114 villages.  Shaikh has MA in English, as well as an MSW, from Shivaji University in Kolhapur.