Steve Hardgrave

Steve has a unique mix of entrepreneurship, international development and investment expertise that has helped prepare him for his role at Varthana. His passion to help unlock every individual’s potential was sparked while at university as he reflected on what it would mean to reorient his life around his faith. This passion only grew as Steve experienced the alternating joys and tragedies of working closely with at-risk youth in Los Angeles and with marginalized communities in Mexico. As Steve’s career has progressed, he has been able to complement his convictions with valuable business experience.

While in Mexico, Steve helped launch numerous small businesses before starting an innovative microfinance institution that quickly became profitable. He later applied his valuable emerging market operations experience to the nascent impact investment sector. Steve helped develop Omidyar Network’s “Financial Inclusion” initiative, and later led the formation of Gray Ghost Ventures’ Affordable Private School initiative, which included the launch of the Indian School Finance Company (ISFC).

By fusing together a deep understanding of the on-the-ground reality with the relentless pursuit of an impactful and efficient operational model, he believes Varthana will play an important role in transforming education for India’s masses.

Steve has also been involved as an organizer, advisor and judge to the Global Social Venture Competition and he serves on the advisory boards of Take Action! and Praxis. He holds a Masters of Business degree from the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley and BA in Economics from University of California, Los Angeles. In his free time, Steve loves to spend time with his wife and three daughters, climb mountains and ride motorcycles.

Brajesh Mishra

As Director and Chief Operating Officer, Brajesh looks after the operations side of the business – from client acquisition to credit assessment; from banking operations to customer relationship management. Brajesh firmly believes that the bottom up approach is the only way to address the issues of education in the country and hence it is critical to empower the school owners with the best resources available – access to credit, access to solution providers, access to a global network and access to ideas. His dream is to have Varthana play a pivotal role in the transformation of affordable education in the country.

Brajesh has close to two decades of experience in retail banking and financial services, having worked with one of the largest banks in the country – ICICI Bank. Before co-founding Varthana, Brajesh was a member of the founding team at another school finance company, the Hyderabad based ISFC. Brajesh also serves on the management committee of Catalysts for Social Action – a Pune based NGO that works for the cause of adoption and rehabilitation of the destitute child.

Outside of work, Brajesh loves running marathons, reading books and is learning to play the guitar.