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Kartik Desai (India)

Partner (Asia), KOIS

Growing up between Delhi, Geneva, and New York, Wharton and Columbia graduate Kartik began his career in the United States as a management consultant with BTS, working on projects with organisations like the UNDP and Rockefeller Foundation. In 2005, he moved to India to join Merrill Lynch’s investment banking and private equity team, then based in Mumbai. In 2007, Kartik transitioned to the development finance space, leading fundraising and investments for two pioneering Indian impact funds: Lok Capital II, focused on financial inclusion in India, and Aavishkaar Frontier Fund, a multi-sector and geography fund focused on South and Southeast Asia. Kartik went on to help found Asha Impact, one of India’s most respected impact finance organisations, which he led for over seven years.

Kartik has spent the last decade raising and deploying private capital across high quality social enterprises in sectors including financial inclusion, education, health, agriculture, waste, affordable housing, and energy access, with multiple successful exits and industry awards. Beyond his role as an investor, Kartik has been active in market building and policy advocacy, leading the work of the Asha Impact Trust with government, regulatory, and philanthropic institutions; driving thought leadership through op-eds, research reports, and white papers on impact investing and blended finance; and serving as a three-time elected board member of the Impact Investors Council and co-chair of its ecosystem committee on blended finance.

Kartik is a founder and mentor to NGOs in the inclusion, digital media, and mental health space and an active angel investor in social enterprises working in remote or underserved parts of India. He has been part of various Government of India initiatives such as the PM’s Champions of Change and Parliamentarians and Innovators for India and is an active speaker at and contributor to professional seminars, education institutions, and government consultations on development finance. He graduated in 2002 with a BSc Economics (finance and management) from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and in 2004 with master’s in international affairs (international finance) from SIPA, Columbia University.