Title and Organization:
Anushka Ratnayake is the Founder and CEO of myAgro and has worked with and for farmers in rural sub-Saharan Africa since mid-2008. After college, while working at a poverty think tank in Sri Lanka, Anushka witnessed the tsunami that destroyed the country’s coastline. The image of coastal farmers and fishers sitting on their collapsed tin roofs remained seared in her memory. She became determined to work towards a world where rural people have the dignity of choice that comes from not living under extreme poverty. Anushka worked at two of the fastest growing and innovative social enterprises that empower people living in poverty: Kiva and One Acre Fund. At Kiva she became immersed in the rapid expansion of microfinance, learning how to take smart risks to test new ideas and design platforms to scale. For One Acre Fund, she created a flexible cash repayment system. She found that farmers asked for the option to pre-pay their loans for a few months—or even a year—before getting a loan, and she realized these farmers were actually describing their need for a savings model. In 2011, Anushka moved to Mali to test her mobile layaway savings model and remained there during a civil war from which nearly every other NGO fled. She launched myAgro to help smallholder farmers save money for high quality seeds, fertilizer, and training to lift themselves out of poverty. She is a Rainer Arnhold Fellow, an Echoing Green Fellow, and a Draper Richard Kaplan Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Fellow.