Roshan Paul, Co-Founder, Amani Institute, Supporting Social Impact Leaders

Roshan Paul, Co-Founder, Amani Institute, Supporting Social Impact Leaders

Roshan Paul, Co-Founder, Amani Institute, Supporting Social Impact Leaders

Roshan Paul has spent his life questioning the status quo and built a career around connecting global citizens to solve social problems across boundaries.



There are people who want to work for society, there are people who work for society, then there are people who help others in working for society. 

One such personality is with us today on our show who has made ‘Social Impact’ his career. We are pleased to invite Mr. Roshan Paul as our guest for this episode of The Brand Called You. 

Roshan is a social entrepreneur and the co-founder of the Amani Institute which is supporting social impact leaders. He has been awarded and felicitated several times. He is also an author who has written books like ‘Such a lot of World’, ‘Your Work begins at No’ and ‘The New Reason to Work’.

Amani Institute

Amani Institute was co-founded by Roshan eleven years ago with the purpose of helping those who wanted to make a social impact with their careers. He tells us that all around the world, many people want to make a difference in society with their careers. He says that today, people are not just about making money, they in fact are more purpose-driven. They want to make an impact but do not know how to do it, that’s where Amani Institute steps in and helps them in developing their meaningful careers.

Amani Institute is currently working in all seven continents.

Projects run by Amani Institute

Roshan tells us that their Postgraduate Certificate in Social Innovation Management is quite popular. It is open to everyone irrespective of their academic background.

The second program Roshan talks about is their program for small businesses. He tells us that the biggest constraint for the growth of small businesses in the Middle Management Talent and if that potential is unlocked, it accelerates their growth, which eventually helps the economy to grow.

Apart from that Amani Institute also works as a consultant company for various things like in-house capacity building, training the staff of various non-profit organizations, etc.

Identifying the value of Social Impact

Roshan was born and brought up in India. He moved to the US for his college. While he was in his final year of college, America was attacked by terrorists. In the same academic year, the Indian parliament was also attacked by terrorists and both the attacks were followed by several riots. Roshan tells us that he felt like both the countries he knew best were in chaos. At that time, he turned down a prestigious corporate job, moved to India, and started working for a low-salary non-profit organization job because he wanted to make a social impact. He tells us people were unsupportive of his decision, but he stood his ground firm and kept working for society. After a decade, as he was working as a social entrepreneur, the same people who earlier mocked him, now wanted to work with him.

How does the culture impact ‘impact’?

In Roshan’s opinion, working for social impact is different in different countries. It is highly affected by the role of the government of that country. Roshan tells us that in the US people want as little government as possible. They believe in a very individually driven culture. They don’t believe in paying much taxes to the government, instead, they invest in foundations and charities, which is why the US is the most giving state of the world. On the contrary, European countries believe strongly in their government and pay high taxes. They believe that the government does all the work of society and this is why there are fewer people engaged in the social impact work in Europe. However, there are now more and more people understanding the value of Social Impact and are contributing towards it.

How is technology making a difference in social impact?

Roshan says that technology is dramatically changing social impact and at the same time not changing at all. He explains that technology is changing social impact to the level it is changing all of our lives in general. Technology has certainly provided new platforms and tools to the world and organizations are trying to use those tools to drive their social impact missions. But at the end of the day, social impact is about changing human behavior. Technology can be a contributing factor but the major part is done by humans in making a change.


Roshan Paul has spent his life questioning the status quo, and built a career around connecting global citizens to solve social problems across boundaries. He co-founded Amani Institute in 2010 with these values in mind, and co-led the organization from an idea to an award-winning social enterprise with offices in Kenya, Brazil and India and projects in more than 25 other countries around the world. Amani Institute has, to date, helped nearly 10,000 people from 65 countries step into or accelerate their careers in social impact. It has also supported more than 250 organizations, from large global UN departments to small local businesses, and everything in between, to increase staff capacity, motivation, and impact. He stepped down as CEO in 2021, but remains an active Board member. The seeds of Amani Institute were cultivated while Roshan worked with Ashoka for a decade, where he designed and launched five new programs and managed two other global projects, supporting over 500 social entrepreneurs (‘Ashoka Fellows’) around the world. Raised in Bangalore, India, Roshan has a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, a Bachelor’s in International Political Economy from Davidson College (a degree he self- designed), and a certificate in Creative Leadership as a founding participant of THNK: The Amsterdam School for Creative Leadership. He has guest-lectured or spoken at conferences at over fifty universities and other institutions around the world, including Harvard, Dartmouth, Georgetown, the World Bank, and the White House. He has also conducted dozens of workshops at leading organizations from Vodafone to Oxfam, and Deloitte to UNICEF. In addition to Amani Institute, Roshan also serves on the Board or Advisory Council of several innovative education organizations worldwide, including Design-a-thon Works (Netherlands), School of Future (India), Watson University, and TechChange (both USA). He also served a term on the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Future Council on Behavioral Science (2016-2018), was awarded a Leadership in Education award by the World Education Congress in 2017, named one of the Asia Society’s “Asia 21 Young Leaders” in 2018, and both a BMW Foundation ‘Responsible Leader’ as well as one of the DO School’s Top 25 Influential Leaders in Purposeful Organizations in 2019. He delivered the Commencement (graduation) speech at the University of San Diego in May 2015 and TEDx talks at TEDxAmsterdamEd and TEDxBangaloreSalon. His writing has been published in Forbes, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MIT’s Innovations Journal, India Today, and the India Development Review. He has been interviewed in The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, Forbes, and CNBC Africa, among others. Roshan has studied and worked on every continent (bar Antarctica) and is a hopeless junkie of the sport of cricket. He is the author of two books: Such a Lot of World, a novel, and Your Work Begins at No, a collection of essays on social impact education, as well as a book chapter in the anthology Dream of a Nation: Inspiring Ideas for a Better America. He is currently writing a book about careers in the 21st century, called The New Reason for Work, due to be published in 2021.

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