Expecting the Unexpected

The AIF Fellowship is an opportunity to immerse myself in the needs of and challenges faced by the socially and economically marginalized in modern-day India. I am a solid believer that one cannot serve a community without a deep understanding and empathy for that population, and more than anything that is what I hope to gain in these next ten months. I believe India has an unprecedented opportunity today to improve the lives of its citizens, and I hope to become an active contributor to that cause. Coming from a business background, I am excited to understand how and whether business principles can be incorporated into bettering lives for those on the margins of today’s Indian society.

My placement is with microHome Solutions, a social enterprise in Delhi focused on building socially inclusive cities through better housing. While this is a completely new area for me, I’m looking forward to diving head-first into this subject as it will only increase in importance and urgency given India’s urbanizing population. Through my work, focused primarily on business development and marketing, I hope to experience and internalize the challenges and subtleties of the housing market in urban slums.

Urban housing is a little understood and often confusing landscape and I hope to share my insights in an actionable manner to the economic development community, and beyond. Of course, the ultimate goal is that economic development evolves from a specialized, adjacent field of work to one whose goals are incorporated thoroughly in both the private and public sectors. Most of all, I believe that sharing these sorts of life-altering experiences can inspire and galvanize many more around us to contribute to this cause in their own lives. This butterfly effect may be the greatest impact we can have in this short but intense immersion.

Sanjana's interests lie in the intersection of geography and economics, and in understanding how resources can be better allocated amongst the rapidly growing populations in the world's urban centers. Sanjana spent her undergraduate career focused on development economics and environmental issues, including teaching in rural villages in Mauritius, working on the Energy and Environment team at USAID, and growing Stanford's energy/environmental student organization across other college campuses in Singapore, Sweden, and Denmark. Sanjana's passion for international development work stems from her time spent working and living in India, as well as her experiences living and traveling abroad as a child. She joins the Fellowship after three years of corporate business development experience at Intuit Inc, which included a six- month marketing assignment in India launching a new software service for the Indian small business owner.

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