Gururaj Deshpande speaks to Forbes India


Philanthropist billionaire Gururaj Deshpande was recently featured in an article by Forbes India. ‘Desh’ Deshpande as he is often called is well known for his Deshpande Foundation, and for his appointment to the Co-Chairmanship of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship by US President Barack Obama, amongst other significant achievements.

Interestingly, Deshpande approaches philanthropy in much the same way as he does his role as an entrepreneur. “An idea does not have an impact unless it is directed at some burning problem in the world,” he told Forbes India in a telephone conversation from Boston.

In 2008, the venture capitalist and entrepreneur took on the role of Chairman of the US wing of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. The kitchen in Deshpande’s hometown of Hubli was built as a joint effort a decade ago with contributions by the billionaire and his brother-in-law NR Narayana Murthy (co-founder of Infosys).

However Deshpande does not contribute money towards the daily running of Akshaya Patra’s kitchens. Staying true to his ability to approach every philanthropic project with the heart of an entrepreneur Deshpande believes that the kitchens need to be able to support themselves. “I chair its fundraising committee in the US, but don’t contribute to daily expenses,” he says.

Deshpande also goes on to explain how his thirty years as an entrepreneur have enabled him to view his philanthropic activities through the same lens. “As an entrepreneur, you need to identify a problem and scale up. The same holds true for this (philanthropy) space,” he says.

Read the Forbes India coverage of Gururaj Deshpande here:

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