Indian woman involved in fight against leprosy to speak at USU

Jon M. Huntsman School of Business students will learn about entrepreneurs who face obstacles far beyond what most students will see in their lifetimes when they attend a Dean’s Convocation at Utah State University scheduled Oct. 7.The Dean’s Convocation will feature Padma Venkataraman, the daughter of former India President R. Venkataraman. She has long been a leading figure in India’s fight against leprosy and its resulting stigma.The convocation, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Orson A. Christiansen Auditorium, room 215, from 12:30–1:30 p.m., in the George S. Eccles Business Building.Venkataraman now heads up micro-finance projects for an organization called Rising Star Outreach that works in India’s leprosy colonies. Rising Star Outreach seeks to help leprosy colonies become self-sufficient communities.Vijay Kannan, director of international programs for the Huntsman School of Business, said he is looking forward to her visit.”We are privileged to have a speaker who has done so much to improve the lives of individuals who are most in need of a helping hand,” Kannan said. “Mrs. Venkataraman tireless efforts to provide economic opportunity through micro-finance, whether it be with her work with leprosy colonies or in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, will be an inspiration to our students and others who hear her message.”After the Tsunami in 2004, Venkataraman helped in the rebuilding of fishing communities on India’s Southeast coast that were destroyed, playing a significant role in securing funds to repair fishing boats and catamarans and purchase new fishing nets.Venkataraman will be in Utah where she will be honored by Enterprise Mentors International Oct. 9, in Salt Lake City. She will receive Mentors’Annual International Humanitarian Award for her work in educating and lifting thousands of leprosy afflicted families from poverty.Enterprise Mentors International is a non-profit organization that “provides business training, mentoring and microfinance services to struggling entrepreneurs in developing nations,” according to its Web site. “Since 1990, Mentors has blessed the lives of over 1.1 million individuals. It is Mentors’ goal to assist the impoverished in developing countries achieve self-sufficiency through self-help.”Prior to her partnership with Rising Star, Venkataraman lived for many years in Vienna, Austria, where she was, among other things, a permanent representative of the All India Women’s Conference to the U.N. She was also vice president of the non-profit organization Committee on Women and president of the United Nations Women’s Guild.Since partnering with Rising Star, she has increased the micro-lending to include more colonies and more individuals, initiated the reconstruction of a residential home for leprosy affected people and been very instrumental in the creation of the new Rising Star Outreach Children’s School and Homes, according to Enterprise Mentors International.The Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University seeks to inspire and equip students to become innovative, ethical leaders with refined analytical skills that will help them understand and succeed in the global marketplace. The Huntsman School of Business is one of seven colleges at USU, located in the beautiful Wasatch Range of northern Utah. More information on the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business may be found at www.huntsman.usu.edu.

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