WALTHAM, MA—Venkat Srinivasan is a quiet guy. But underneath that quietude lies a bubbling desire to give—be it the American India Foundation, Akshay Patra or any worthy charitable cause he is passionate about. “Today, I think of philanthropy as the most important purpose in my life, next to caring for my family,” says Srinivasan.
Who is Venkat Srinivasan?
“Venkat generally keeps a very low profile. That is the essence of his personality,” says Raj Sharma, who has known him for many years and has worked closely with him at the American India Foundation, known as AIF. “However, if he finds something he is passionate about, then he puts his heart and soul into it.”
Srinivasan is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dedham, MA-based RAGE Frameworks Inc, and Vice Chairman of AIF. This month, Srinivasan published a book entitled: ‘The Intelligent Enterprise in the Era of Big Data’, which explores innovative developments in artificial intelligence and more importantly talks about how tomorrow’s enterprises should be organized.
On October 28, Srinivasan will be honored with the Philanthropy Award at the New England Choice Awards gala at the Westin Hotel in Waltham, MA. About 400 entrepreneurs, corporate executives, philanthropists, educators and community leaders are expected to attend the awards gala, which is presented by INE MultiMedia in collaboration with INDIA New England News, the region’s oldest and largest online, print and video magazine serving the South Asian community.
“Whether it is in business or philanthropy, Venkat always goes the extra mile. In business, he has always come up with creative and disruptive processes, making the business process automation easier for companies,” said Sharma. “I see him doing the same thing in the area of philanthropy at AIF, where he is responsible for spearheading accurate evaluations and measurements of programs and projects. Moreover, Venkat is extremely generous individual with both his time and money.”
What did attract Srinivasan to the world of philanthropy?
“Giving has always been a deep rooted value that my parents instilled in me. They taught me to separate pride and selfish ego,” Srinivasan told INDIA New England News. “Like many, we grew up with very little; I went to a government school and many of my class mates couldn’t even bring lunch to school. We were more fortunate than that. Seeing them created a deep sense of empathy for my fellow classmates. You realize that very little, if anything, separates us all as humans.”
Along the way, Srinivasan was helped by many and he has been grateful to them forever.
“I can think of so many who have helped me. Without them, I would not be here. So philanthropy to me is quite natural,” Srinivasan said. “The more I get involved, the more excited I am by the ability to make a difference, howsoever small, in many lives. Today, I think of philanthropy as the most important purpose in my life next to caring for my family.”
Although Srinivasan is passionate about philanthropy and giving, he says philanthropy alone may not be able to completely solve major problems but it can go a long way at least in solving economic problems.
“There are all kinds of statistics that tell us that if we could achieve an equitable redistribution of wealth between the haves and have nots, without killing individual initiative and enterprise, we might have a more peaceful world,” Srinivasan said. “Many of us are effecting redistribution when we build companies and go deep with options for every employee; or when we build social enterprises which enable people in some way.”
Which one is Srinivasan’s own favorite charity?
“Amongst India-focused charities, the American India Foundation is my favorite charity. AIF is an incredibly powerful platform for collective philanthropy, which can channel the collective force of the diaspora towards accelerating desirable social and economic change in India,” Srinivasan said. “It is not only about money. It is about getting many like-minded people to focus collectively with their financial and other relevant resources to effect change at scale, and doing so without worrying about who gets the credit. I saw that getting individual credit did not drive the AIF agenda.”
Amongst U.S. charities that Srinivasan has come across, his favorite is BUILD.
“BUILD attempts to help kids, who are at the risk of dropping out of school, stay in school and succeed. They do this through entrepreneurship,” Srinivasan said. “BUILD is dedicated to proving the power of experiential learning through entrepreneurship, and igniting the potential of youth in under-resourced communities. They have an amazing 100% success rate.”
In addition to philanthropy, business is another passion of Srinivasan.
RAGE Frameworks, which Srinivasan founded in 2004, supports the creation of intelligent business process automation solutions and cognitive intelligence solutions for global corporations. Prior to RAGE Frameworks, Srinivasan founded E-Credit, which he sold in 1999. Srinivasan is an entrepreneur and holds several patents in the area of knowledge-based technology architectures. He is the author of two edited volumes and over 30 peer-reviewed publications. He has served as an associate professor in the College of Business Administration at Northeastern University.