Poonam Ahluwalia founder and CEO of Youth Entrepreneurship and Sustainability (YES) was named the 2013 INDIA New England Woman of the Year on June 7 at the Woman of the Year Banquet & Awards Ceremony held at the Marriott Newton in Newton, Mass. She led the Youth Entrepreneurship and Sustainability campaign for over a decade and orchestrated an impact all over the globe. Following YES, she started YouthTrade, an organization supporting young entrepreneurs and helping them get access to premium markets. She is also a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council for Youth Unemployment.
She recently launched Youth Trade. “After nearly a decade of campaigning for YES As we were nearing the end of the decade YES Campaign — another big gap showed up for me — access to markets for the products of youth entrepreneurs. Young people have amazing ideas and great products — they may get support in preparing their business plans, finding access to finance, marketing, etc. But practically all support ends when their product is launched. We decided to fill this gap by creating an architecture for youth to access premium markets called YouthTrade. YouthTrade is inspired by Conscious Capitalism and was introduced to me by my two dear friends Raj Sisodia and Shubhro Sen” says Ahluwalia
YouthTrade is a certification that marks a youth-led mission driven business. “We were lucky to get Kim Rose, vice president of merchandising and purchasing for Whole Foods Market North Atlantic Region, to agree to pilot the concept and just like Janet Whitla fostered YES — Rose has fostered YouthTrade. In May 2012 — about 20 YouthTrade entrepreneurs launched their products in 28 Whole Foods Market. Due to Rose's ongoing support we are now in 138 Whole Foods Market stores” says Ahluwalia.
“We also snagged our second premium market — Nordstrom in December. Thanks to our friend Betsy Sanders, one of our products was launched in six stores — we hope to continue to build this relationship too. Thanks to the efforts of Cheryl Kiser we are now based at Babson College. To build anything many people have to contribute I am naming just a small fraction of those who have fostered YES and YouthTrade. My current passion is building YouthTrade as a force for good and building a conscious consumer base that will be the market for ethically sourced YouthTrade products.”
The other finalists were Anu Chitrapu, Rajini Anachi, Tara Anand, Dr. Meena Sundaram, Shefali Sundarlal, Dr. Seema Arora, Java Joshi, Jharna Madan, Monica Gill, Dr. Ammani Dasari, Hardeep Mann, Mondira Deb Pant, Deepti Navaratna, Jayashree Bala Rajamani, Alpna Seth, Manisha Roy, Mansee Sangani, Aditi Taylor and Madhavi Donepudi.
Ahluwalia was chosen by an independent panel of judges, who deliberated for several hours prior to the start of the Woman of the Year Banquet & Awards Ceremony. The Woman of the Year and all the finalists were chosen based on their contributions to their community, culture, organizations, business and their personal achievements.
The seven judges this year were Barin Bando, Mukesh Chatter, Santhana Krishnan, Rajiv Lal, Ranjani Saigal, Jasmine Shah and Pradeep Shukla. Lal served as chairman of the judges panel.
The announcement of Ahluwalia as Woman of the Year came after an exciting and fun-filled evening, hosted by emcee Jyoti Nagia, with talks by INDIA New England Publisher Upendra Mishra, sponsors Subu Kota and Dr. Manju Sheth, as well as 2012 INDIA New England Woman of the Year Ranjani Saigal.
A real treat for the attendees was several musical numbers by singing stars Mohan Subramaniam and Anuradha Palakurthi. They each performed several songs on their own throughout the evening and then came together for a duet that thrilled the audience.
Attendees were treated to the tasteful cuisines of Vinod Kapoor's Masala Art. DJ Yogz provided the entertainment for the evening. Shobha Shastry provided the tasteful décor.
We congratulate Poonum Ahluwalia on her well-deserved recognition.