Varsha Venugopal


Big Idea: 
Community influencers as health behavior promoters in India.

Every village has trusted community influencers - they’re the people who know everyone and everything going on. Suvita finds and harnesses these people to get the hardest to reach children vaccinated. The influencer gets signed up with Suvita and after a bit of training, they get SMS tasks and reminders so they can tell parents why, when and where to get their kids immunized. There’s strong evidence from an RCT by Banerjee and Duflo that this simple idea for how to effectively communicate with people who are hard to reach works on vaccine uptake now, and it could potentially work on a lot of other important health behaviors.

Varsha worked for several years in global funds and foundations, including at the World Bank and Open Society, on improving governance in African countries. Later she got excited about the new evidence that showed certain nudges could help more parents to get their kids vaccinated. She got her Master’s degree in Development Management from LSE.

Rainer Arnhold Fellows