MANOJ KUMAR
Co-founder, Araku Coffee

A Robert McNamara Fellow of the World Bank, Manoj's career as a professional began with stints in Ministry of Finance, development banking, microfinance, and international humanitarian organisations before becoming the founding CEO of Naandi Foundation in 2000 AD. Under his leadership, Naandi's first decade saw Manoj design and implement innovative solutions that enhanced efficiency and quality of large-scale government services. Creation of the largest network of centralized kitchens for providing 1 billion midday meals to a million school going children being one such example.

Through lesser-known development financing models, Manoj led the transformation of tribal communities of Araku Valley (Eastern Ghats) caught in the quagmire of poverty, Naxal (Maoist) insurgency, and aggravating ecological fragility into a region with biodiverse functional forests (30 million trees - mostly coffee, fruits, shade and timber) and thus creating an iconic global brand - ARAKU Coffee that enabled 100,000 tribal lives to come out of poverty. The successful regenerative agriculture model of Araku is being replicated in rural and urban India under the aegis of 'Arakunomics' which was awarded the prestigious 'Food System Vision Prize 2050' by the Rockefeller Foundation, New York, USA.

A Fellow and Moderator of The Aspen Institute, Colorado, Manoj serves on the Board of various social impact organisations and is CSR Advisor to the Mahindra Group.

Manoj was named by the Financial Times, London as one of the 25 people to watch out for in India.