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Vikram Akula

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Vikram Akula, For-Profit Microfinance Pioneer, Explains the Roots of His Motivation Vikram Akula: The Poor Know How to Help Themselves

Some of the most important lessons I learned about alleviating poverty came from my experience living and working in India’s rural villages....


Some of the most important lessons I learned about alleviating poverty came from my experience living and working in India’s rural villages. After graduating from Tufts in 1990 I went to India and worked for the Deccan Development Society, a nonprofit based in Hyderabad in southern India. DDS was the only nonprofit that responded to a raft of query letters I sent as a job-seeking senior, so it was not hard for me to decide to head to Hyderabad after graduation.

I grew up in upstate New York but I was a wide-eyed idealist, determined from an early age to do something about the extreme poverty I saw on family summer vacations in India. I was the do-gooder to end all do-gooders. In college, instead of going to parties on Friday night, I volunteered at a local homeless shelter. In my freshman year I wrote in my journal that I wanted to “eradicate poverty with the discipline of a Marine.” Corny as that may seem, I was utterly sincere about that goal.

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