Vijaya Pastala is a social entrepreneur with a passion for developing community based solutions that use the power of market forces to improve farming livelihoods. She is the founder of Under The Mango Tree, an innovative, award-winning hybrid, social enterprise that supports rural farming households in India increase incomes and improve crop productivity through indigenous beekeeping.
The idea for Under The Mango Tree arose from a trip to an apple orchard, where Vijaya learnt of the bond between bees, agricultural yields and single-flora honeys. A simple question arose: what if farmers were trained to add bee boxes on farms to facilitate cross-pollination and provided markets to sell honey collected to increase incomes?
Building on her practical, firsthand experience of developing farmer-friendly frameworks that impacted rural poverty, Vijaya founded Under The Mango Tree in 2009, to address a challenge she’d been continuously confronted with: India’s declining agricultural productivity and the urgent need to increase rural incomes. Since inception, Under The Mango Tree has impacted over 15,000 lives, improving rural incomes by over 30%.
Before establishing Under The Mango Tree, Vijaya spent two decades spearheading pro-poor, rural livelihood interventions with the World Bank, European Commission, the Aga Khan Foundation and others.
A local Bombayite, after her schooling in Cathedral, Vijaya took a gap year to travel across India as a hippe with the first edition of the Lonely Planet and kept in touch with her family through lighting phone calls from Post Offices, before heading out to Mount Holyoke College for her Bachelor’s in International Relations and then on to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a Masters in Regional planning.
Besides helming UTMT and being the best possible mom to her 12 year old, Vijaya desperately tries to manage the challenge of balance – home, work and self!!