Former ICICI Bank Limited chairman and the Chancellor of Krea University Narayana
Chennai, July 14: Former ICICI Bank Limited chairman and the Chancellor of Krea University Narayana
Vaghul and Ashok Jhunjhunwala, President, IIT Madras Research Park & Incubation Cell launched ‘LEAD the Jo urney – Catalysing Change, Enabling Transformative Solutions’ – a coffee table book that chronicles nearly two decades of impact research undertaken by IFMR Society and Krea University’s research centre LEAD.
LEAD’s roots can be traced to an initial seed funding from the ICICI Bank’s Social Initiative Group in 2005, which laid the foundation for an innovative research platform. A pioneer of action research in the country, and one of the first research centres incubated by the IFMR-Krea ecosystem, LEAD provides a unique opportunity for acad emics of various disciplines, practitioners, researchers and students to learn together through real-world exp eriences, thus strengthening local capacity for rigorous field-based research in India.
Today, LEAD leverages research and innovation to address comp lex challenges such as enhancing access to soc ial protection and financial well-being for vulnerable segments, testing and evalua ting solutions to catalyse sm all business growth, and creating sust ainable livelihood pathways for female workers and entrepreneu rs, among other areas.
Speaking at the launch, LEAD’s Executive Director Sharon Buteau said that “Knowledge creation is a powerful tool for positive im pact, provided it can be shared and ultimately used. From some of the earliest product in no vations in microfina nce to unpacking the growth dynamics of small businesses, we have seen first-hand the im mense potential of testing powerful, innovative ideas on the ground. Through this book, we are telling the story of our own journey before charting our next chapter. We are also upbeat about LEAD’s next phase – LEAD X – which will focus on disruptive solutions for critical development problems that remain intractable.”
The book release also coincided with the inauguration of LEAD’s new office at IIT Madras Research Park. LEAD is a member of IITMRP’s “Fintech for Inclusion” ecosystem which includes partners from industry and academia working towards enhancing access to critical financial services for underserved segments, through collaboration and innovation.
“With 85% of households in India earning less than ₹25,000 per month, IITM Research Park recognises the value of FINTECH for Inclusion. Fortunately, this area has been the focus of work for many companies in the Research Park over the last ten years, with companies like Dvara, KGFS, Samunnati and Northern Arc making a major diff erence to the nation. LEAD at Krea University is the latest addition and it brings its unique strengths to the ecos ystem. There is significant scope to harness synergies between LEAD’s work on understanding the barriers faced by different vulnerable segments, and the work of industry partners who are developing solutions to enhance so cio-economic well-being at scale. Their extensive experience in working on solving challenges through action-research and testing innovative solutions to the ground will result in more innovation and strengthen our en tr epreneurship ecosystem.” said Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, President, IITM Research Park & Incubation Cell and sp ecial guest at the launch.