“Once you find like-minded changemakers, hold on to them tightly,” says inaugural Equitech Scholar

by Abby Thompson
July 7, 2023 

A native of Delhi, Ritvik Sharma was part of the founding Equitech Scholars cohort in 2021. While pursuing his undergraduate studies in anthropology and sociology at Ashoka University, Ritvik came across the Equitech Scholars program

“What drew me toward Equitech was its holistic program. It was grooming scholars to become leaders who understand data science and Artificial Intelligence (AI),” shares Ritvik. When asked about his biggest takeaways from the program, Ritvik credits the Writing Lab and Speaking Lab as “beautiful processes with self reflection at their cores.” 

After attending the Equitech Scholars program as a student, Ritvik was able to apply his design thinking tools from the course to assist Equitech’s founder, Abhilash Mishra, launch the first Applied Data Institute (ADI). Ritvik worked as a growth consultant, and also helped with strategic marketing of the company in its initial stages.

Currently, Ritvik works as an analyst at CIIE.CO, a startup accelerator based out of IIM Ahmedabad. As someone who aspires to be an entrepreneur himself, Ritvik is keen on developing the ecosystem of startups. 

“My company invests in startups and helps them grow. We look for gaps within the ecosystem and focus on filling those gaps through a continuum of support,” Ritvik says. The goal of his company is to support entrepreneurs working in climate and sustainability, tech innovation, and inclusion early in their journey and build solutions in these spaces. So far, they have invested in over 300 startup companies and supported over 1,000. 

We asked Ritvik about a typical day at work, to which he replied, “Most of my day is divided into three parts: investment work, evaluating portfolios, and thought leadership.” He sees his role as a business coach, a recruiter, a consultant and sometimes even a therapist, he jokes. Acknowledging the role of Equitech Futures in shaping his career, Ritvik says, “My experiences at Equitech helped me in my job immensely with regard to evaluating startups and holding conversations with stakeholders.” 

Ritvik traces his interest in social impact and equity to his interest in photography. 

“It was photography that led me to explore the remote parts of India, and which developed my sense of affection and responsibility towards equitable growth. As an investor, my photography continues to guide me when I travel to the hinterlands.” Ritvik’s background in anthropology and sociology has also enabled him to be a more thoughtful investor by offering him insights into how cultures and societies guide consumer behavior and business practices. 

Furthering his interest in the social sector, Ritvik has also participated in fundraising events. He was part of Project CHHAAV which helped about 100,000 female frontline health workers with protective equipment in rural India during a deadly wave of COVID-19. In the future, he hopes to continue to help blue collar workers and farmers with access and timely equipment repair. 

Talking about his role at his current job and his future aspirations, Ritvik says, “Through my work, I’m able to empower entrepreneurs, and I think that’s a great economic and social investment. In the long term, I hope to continue in the field of social entrepreneurship. Our financial systems are inequitable and highly skewed and I hope that through entrepreneurship, we are able to help people live a life of value and be in charge of their destinies. I believe that everyone should be able to earn enough to live a life of dignity.” 

When asked about advice he would give to future Equitech Scholars, he says, “Don’t compromise. If you’re associated with Equitech Futures, then you probably feel very strongly about the need for change in how the world works right now. As you graduate from the curriculum, even though you stay part of the alumni network, you will face resistance from the status quo moving forward, and at times it will be difficult to implement change. Keep hustling, but don’t diminish the dream you have for a better world. Once you find like-minded changemakers, hold on to them tightly, and learn from each other. Don’t let anyone make you compromise on your dreams.”

Anodya Mishra contributed to this article.

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