Around the World in 24 Days


Even for someone who travels extensively like I do, April 2024 was a whirlwind. It also presented many remarkable opportunities to hear from leaders in social justice, climate action, gender equity, and poverty alleviation from around the world, and to meet up with social entrepreneurs, existing and potential partners, and new and old friends. In 23 days, I went from California to the UK, then on to India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), then Paris, and back to California. On different legs of the journey, I was joined by my colleagues: Eli Latimerlo, Senior Director of Business Development, and Lydia Hultquist, Senior Manager of Partnerships at Miller Center, in India; and Mick Greco, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Santa Clara University, in the UAE. Each brought their energy, insights, curiosity, and passion for our work.

London: ANDE Meeting (Day 2)

After traveling from San Francisco to Heathrow on Day 1, my journey kicked off in London on April 8 for ANDE’s annual London Member Meeting. There, I co-presented a session titled “Investing in Inclusion: Designing Gender-Smart Investment and Business Strategies Driven by Data.” My co-presenters were Allie Burns, CEO of Village Capital, and Yasmina Zaidman, Acumen‘s Chief Development and Partnerships Officer. During this session, I shared insights from Maya Ackerman’s research on brilliance bias and gender leadership characteristics as well as Miller Center’s initiatives to empower women economically. The session drew around 75 participants, reflecting a keen interest in gender-smart investment strategies.

Oxford: Skoll World Forum (Days 3–6)

The next stop was Oxford for the Skoll World Forum, which saw a record turnout of approximately 1,500 participants. The Forum was packed with high-profile speakers and thought-provoking sessions. Notable attendees included former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, fromer Irish President Mary Robinson, and Amal and George Clooney of the Clooney Foundation of Justice (and Ocean’s 11). The overarching theme was the urgent need for leadership amid global political unrest and violence. It was also exciting to catch up with Wawira Njiru, founder of Food4Education and a Miller Center social enterprise alum, who was one of five recipients of the 2024 Skoll Award for Social Innovation

Memorable quotes from the sessions included:

  • Sônia Guajajara, Brazil’s Minister of Indigenous Peoples: “Indigenous peoples represent 5% of the population and protect 82% of the world’s biodiversity. Maybe we should listen to them?”
  • Wanjira Mathai, CEO of World Resources Institute: “We can no longer afford to separate climate and development. We must keep climate justice at the center.”
  • Jacinda Ardern: “We teach our kids kindness, curiosity, and generosity. When did we stop asking this from our leaders?”

India: Mumbai and Bangalore (Days 9–13)

From Oxford, I traveled to India, where Miller Center’s social enterprise community exceeds 150 companies. It was a pleasure to meet up and travel with Eli Latimerlo and Lydia Hultquist there. Our trip underscored the potential for Miller Center’s further expansion into the country. India presents a vast opportunity due to its enormous population and diverse cultures. For some context, India’s population of over 1.4 billion people is almost three times that of all of North America. And although tremendous progress has been made in poverty alleviation over the past few decades, much work remains to be done.

Miller Center can strategically fill a critical gap in India’s start-up ecosystem, which has nearly 900 incubators and accelerators focusing on very early-stage start-ups, and a vibrant impact investing scene targeting companies with $1-2 million in revenues. Our unique value lies in supporting ventures in the interim “valley of death” stage, where funding and support are scarce.

Additionally, the large Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley offers a reservoir of potential mentors, investors, and supporters. Further, we can offer Santa Clara University’s strong network of Indian diaspora students a range of opportunities for student engagement through course projects, internships, and fellowships.

In Mumbai, we met with Sagarika Bose, Head of CSR at SAP, followed by a Miller Center-hosted happy hour attended by 20 partners, social entrepreneurs, and staff. We then visited the S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), recognized in the Financial Times global ranking as offering India’s #1 Masters in Management. Meetings continued with Intellecap, where Pramit Banerjee and Sanjana Somani discussed their work on circularity, women’s economic empowerment, and energy in Asia and Africa. We met with Gurvinder Parmar and Raghavendra Rao from the India Health Fund, a Tata Trusts and Global Fund initiative focused on incubating and financing healthcare innovations in infectious disease treatment. 

Next stop: Bangalore. At NSRCEL, we discussed climate sustainability and women’s entrepreneurship with Nachiket Kulkarni and his team. Additionally, Miller Center co-hosted a happy hour with Upaya Social Ventures and met with Shazib Siddique and Sailee Rane of ACT, an Indian non-profit venture philanthropy platform focused on collective social impact. 

A highlight in Bangalore was hosting a workshop for 15 social entrepreneurs in Miller Center’s network — all working to lift people out of poverty in India. These changemakers represented Awaaz.De, Essmart, FCF India, Grass Roots Action for Social Participation (GRASP), Ignis Careers, NemoCare, Oorja Solutions, and Pollinate Group. Based on their biggest business hurdles, we created breakout sessions for these leaders to share experiences on key issues like human resource headaches and fundraising challenges.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE (Days 16–20)

Next, I visited Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Abu Dhabi’s striking skyline and modern amenities provided a stunning backdrop for the AVPN Global Conference 2024 held at the St. Regis Al Saadiyat and Park Hyatt hotels. 

My colleague Mick Greco and I participated in AVPN thanks to a grant from Chevron, which funds accelerator programs such as Miller Center to help reduce poverty, drive economic and social opportunity, and develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Over the three-day conference, we attended more than 20 sessions, including “Accelerating Collaboration for a Climate-Resilient Future,” “The Critical Role of Patient Capital in Impact Investing,” and “Investor Toolkit: Navigating the Nexus of Climate Change and Public Health.”

I also had the honor of moderating a session titled “Scaling Equitable Access to Markets and Supply Chains for Women Entrepreneurs,” featuring an introduction by Dee Bourbon of Chevron and panelists Sujatha Ramani of Pollinate Group, Sagarika Bose of SAP India, and Shiv Kumar of Catalyst Group. The discussion, attended by over 50 participants, focused on overcoming supply-chain barriers and establishing equitable procurement processes for women entrepreneurs.

Key takeaways from AVPN included:

  • The power of philanthropy in mobilizing resources for social and environmental impact across all of Asia
  • The necessity of innovative financing solutions to support social entrepreneurship and build resilience
  • The importance of empowering women entrepreneurs by addressing systemic barriers and creating inclusive strategies

In Dubai, I joined a Latimpacto delegation in a meeting with Dubai Cares, which provided insights into their support for education across the Emirate. What’s more, Dubai Cares is impacting 24 million people in 60 developing countries to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for children and youth and promote lifelong learning by 2030.

Paris, France (Days 23-24)

My final stop was Paris, where I met with the Cartier Women’s Initiative, which focuses on empowering women impact entrepreneurs to drive change. Each year, the initiative selects a cohort of fellows, with the goal of providing these exceptional women with the necessary skills needed to expand their businesses and enhance their leadership capabilities — leveraging the knowledge and experience of academics, practitioners, industry experts, and entrepreneurs, as well as fostering peer learning opportunities. Past fellows include social enterprise founders and Miller Center community members Manka Angwafo of Grassland Cameroon, Rebecca Hui of Roots Studio, and Charlot Magayi of Mukuru Clean Stoves.

Looking Back…

Over the course of this 24-day journey, we met with innovative, determined, and generous people doing remarkable work with grace and humility. Each engagement underscored the vital importance of the efforts of our partners and Miller Center to tackle pressing social issues around the world. Traversing the globe from London to Paris by way of India and the UAE, the connections we forged and the insights we gained will undoubtedly shape our future strategies and initiatives. It’s also good to be home… until our next trip!


Photo Captions:

  1. With Wawira Njiru of Food4Education at Skoll World Forum
  2. Meeting with Sanjana Somani and Pramit Banerjee of Intellecap
  3. Leaders from Awaaz.De, Essmart, FCF India, Grass Roots Action for Social Participation (GRASP), Ignis Careers, NemoCare, Oorja Solutions, and Pollinate Group at our workshop in Bangalore
  4. Henna at AVPN with Dee Bourbon, Senior Social Investment Advisor at Chevron