Bharat Desai and Neerja Sethi: Tech Grants

NET WORTH: $2.4 billion, collectively

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Altos Syntel

FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth, Global & Indian Causes, Florida Community

OVERVIEW: Bharat Desai and his wife Neerja Sethi move philanthropy through the Ds Foundation, which gave away around $7.5 million in a recent year. The couple direct millions annually to a donor advised fund, obscuring the full scope of their philanthropy. They also move philanthropy through the Desai Sethi Foundation (DSF), which focuses on underprivileged youth in Florida and Michigan.

BACKGROUND: Born in Kenya and raised in India, Bharat Desai graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and received his MBA from University of Michigan. Bharat Desai founded IT consulting and outsourcing company Syntel (now Altos Syntel) with his wife Neerja from their apartment in Michigan. Today the company has more than $900 million in revenue.

Neerja Sethi graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Delhi University, where she also received an MBA, and received her M.S. in computer science from Oakland University. She cofounded Altos Syntel. The couple are based in Florida.

ISSUES:

EDUCATION & YOUTH: The couple have supported places like Princeton University, Foundation for Student Communication, Harvard, and Desai’s alma mater University of Michigan. Through the Desai Sethi Foundation (DSF), meanwhile, the family recently provided assistance to 89 young children in Miami and Florida City area, primarily those from underprivileged families or from orphanages suffering from developmental disorders. In 2017, DSF acquired a building in Detroit to carry out initiatives to help underprivileged communities including in the realm of social enterprise.

GLOBAL & INDIAN CAUSES: The couple steadily support American India Foundation, “a nonprofit American organization that is devoted to accelerating social and economic change in India.” Other grantees have included Friends of the Oxford Center for Hindu Studies; Indiaspora, “working to promote community engagement and help underprivileged Indian Americans”; South Asian Youth Action; ITT Bombay Heritage Foundation; and Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, which supports early-stage, high-impact social enterprises around the globe.

FLORIDA COMMUNITY: The couple are based in Fisher Island in Florida and support their community. Grantees have included United Way of Dade County, Fisher Island Philanthropic Fund, and Miami Music Project.

LOOKING FORWARD: The couple direct millions to a donor-advised fund within National Philanthropic Trust, obscuring the full scope of their giving. Perhaps some of this grantmaking will be less opaque down the line. The couple’s more local work through the younger DSF Foundation should be watched carefully as well.

CONTACT:

Ds Foundation
1001 Brickell Bay Dr., suite 3102/08
Miami, FL 33131
(305) 347-7273

The Desai Foundation
7274 Fisher Island Dr.
Miami Beach, Fl 33109
(305) 347-7273