Impact Leaders #2: Pooja Warier Hamilton

Pooja Warier Hamilton of The Conduit’s Impact Fund is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded UnLtd India where they incubated hundreds of social enterprises. She also co-founded Bombay Connect, India’s first coworking space. Pooja was recognised as a Young Global Leader at the 2013 World Economic Forum.

In this episode, Pooja shares her story of how she went from studying criminology to discovering her entrepreneurial spirit while at university. She also talks about her journey starting from UnLtd London, co-founding UnLtd India and now coming back to London to join The Conduit.

As a true impact leader, Pooja gives us insights into what it means to be a leader and an entrepreneur saying that “Being an entrepreneur doesn’t make you a leader. Being a leader doesn’t make you an entrepreneur.” In her view, true leaders know how best to treat their team and co-workers and are adept at engaging their teams to receive feedback while inspiring others.

Pooja mentions that the 3 keys to being a successful entrepreneur are:

  • Knowing your customer
  • Balance of ambition and pragmatism
  • Knowing your own strength and weaknesses

She says: “a true leader knows how to ask for feedback from people who are closest to you and it is important to create a safe environment to get feedback.” She shared that in supporting entrepreneurs there is a lot of focus on building the company but encourages entrepreneurs to develop our own leadership style and know who we are as a person. Having coached many highly driven entrepreneurs she advises that is important to pause and take the time and space to reflect.

Pooja talks about how the impact investing scene has developed over the years and is excited about the new opportunity here leading the The Conduit’s impact fund. She shared that with bigger flow of funding going into impact investment, it is important to ensure that there is real impact happening “on the ground”.

In relation to appropriate impact measurement as a social enterprise, she believes it is important to develop a stage by stage approach. There is a risk to overwhelm the founders and the company if we try to measure too much too soon. There needs to be clear milestones to achieve over time.

Regarding investing in impact, as impact investment becomes more mainstream there is more diverse sources of funding and there is a role for everyone from philanthropy and angels to wealth managers to grow the ecosystem.

Pooja finishes her interview urging listeners to take action to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals and shared that the next 2 years will be crucial especially taking massive action to address climate change. She also shared the quote from Aaron Swartz who was featured in the documentary The Internet’s Own Boy, “If you are not giving time, attention and energy on today’s biggest problems, why aren’t you?”

 

Highlights in this episode:

  • 3 keys to being a successful entrepreneur
  • What it means to be a leader
  • Importance of getting feedback,inspiring your team and taking time to reflect
  • Challenges of being a woman entrepreneur
  • How has impact investment changed over the years and what is coming
  • Transformative impact that changes the game
  • Impact measurement and a stage by stage approach with clear milestones
  • Crucial steps to leaving an organisation after many years of work building it
  • Taking action towards the Global Goals in the next 2 years will be key

 

Useful links:

Pooja Warier Hamilton’s Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/poojawarier/

UnLtd India – http://unltdindia.org/

Bombay Connect – https://www.bombay-connect.com/

The Conduit – https://theconduit.com/

 

Chapters:

[03:40] How did you start as a social entrepreneur?

[05:00] Keys to being a successful entrepreneur

[10:20] What makes a good leader?

[12:00] Developing people internally

[13:00] Difference for men and women entrepreneurs

[16:00] Learning to get along as a woman as opposed to being in protest mode

[17:30] Setting up Unltd India and Bombay Connect

[20:45] How do we know which entrepreneurs to back

[24:00] Business planning competition that doesn’t require speaking to customers

[24:45] Measuring of impact

[26:00] What is impact investing?

[27:30] How do you move away from a baby like UnLtd?

[29:40] Transformative impact that changes the rules of the game

[31:00] What has changed in impact investing in the last 10 years

[34:00] What can people do to support this growing ecosystem

[37:00] Making more people aware about impact investing

[38:40] The Conduit is an amazing blend of community

[41:00] Advice for a young entrepreneur

[42:00] Doing things that make you happy

[43:00] We are running out of time with climate change

[45:00] Call to action: The Internet’s Own Boy