NET WORTH: $3.1 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Aspect Development, Inc., Symphony Technology Group
FUNDING AREAS: Entrepreneurial Development, Skill Development, Creating opportunities for the disabled, and Innovation in India
OVERVIEW: A signatory of the Giving Pledge, Romesh Wadhwani is a strong proponent of philanthrocapitalism in his home country of India. The Wadhwani Foundation works in India, East Africa and Latin America.
BACKGROUND: Romesh Wadhwani attended the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon. He first specialized in software and solutions for computer-integrated manufacturing and next in technology-enabled energy management solutions. In 2000, Wadhwani sold Aspect Development to i2 Technologies for $9.3 billion, almost entirely in i2 stock. When the tech bubble burst later that year, Wadhwani lost a great deal of his fortune, but he got right back up and started rebuilding, taking $250 million of his own money to develop not just one but several new tech companies.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT: Through the Wadhwani Foundation, Wadhwani has invested tens of millions in a number of projects in India, including a cooperative skills development project with the Indian Human Resources ministry and two scientific research centers — one at IIT-Mumbai and another at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore. The foundation also invests in smaller businesses inside India to make more consumer products available to more people in the country.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Wadhwani believes that other philanthropists need to target larger groups with their philanthropy and provide larger funding pools, and that the best way for him to create an impact with his giving is to fund promising entrepreneurs. To that end, Wadhwani started National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) in 2003. NEN has led the way in the creation of a number of mentoring programs at Indian colleges and universities, and it has trained thousands of potential entrepreneurs on basic business principles in that time. NEN and Global Skills Network launched in East Africa in 2016 with the goal of "strengthening the high-growth entrepreneurship and skilling ecosystem in East Africa," including in Ethiopia and Uganda.
In early 2017, Wadhwani Foundation’s National Entrepreneurship Network (WF NEN) was launched in Latin America to "strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country by supporting Entrepreneurship Education, Startups & SMEs, and enabling access to knowledge, mentor and investor resources." The network works in places like Chile and and Colombia.
Wadhwani has also funded the creation of the Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurial Development at the Indian School of Business, which engages in broad-based policy research, and set up chairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and the Indian Council for Research and International Economic Relations (ICRIER) in New Delhi, India, to fund the development of a policy framework for that purpose. It is worth noting that Wadhwani is a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Romesh a board member of Center for Strategic and International Studies.