Dr. Vikram Akula is a pioneer in market-based approaches to financial inclusion. He is the founder of SKS Microfinance, an organization that offers micro-loans and insurance to poor women in impoverished areas of India. He started SKS Microfinance in 1997 as a non-profit and then converted it to a for-profit in 2005. He led the company to a successful IPO in 2010 reaching a market capitalization of $2.2 billion and an outreach of 7.3 million low-income borrowers in 2011, by which time it had disbursed more than $5 billion in micro-loans as well as micro-insurance products. For his work in financial inclusion, he was named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2006. He has a B.A. from Tufts University, an M.A. from Yale, a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, was a Fulbright Scholar, and has worked with McKinsey & Company and the Worldwatch Institute. He was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Start-up in 2006 and Business Transformation in 2009) in India, the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader, the Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year in India, and was a 1998 Echoing Green Public Service Fellow.
Dr. Akula is the author of A Fistful of Rice; My Unexpected Quest to End Poverty Through Profitability, published by Harvard Business Press. He is currently a director at AgSri, a sustainable agriculture company focused on helping small sugarcane farmers reduce water use, and at Bodhi Educational Society, which establishes schools for underprivileged children in India.