In 2016 Oxford Saïd launched an initiative to track, recognise, and celebrate the wide range of impact careers of its alumni.
The School believes that positive social and environmental change can be created through a diverse range of career paths. This initiative recognises those who are creating positive impact and have been engaged with the School since graduation.
In its second year since inception, the Oxford Saïd Impact Careers Award has been awarded to two outstanding alumni that have been a force for positive social change in their careers: Dhruv Lakra, Founder and CEO of Mirakle Couriers, and Erica Mackey, Co-Founder and CEO of MyVyllage.
Peter Drobac, Director at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship said: ‘One of the great qualities about Oxford Saïd is that so many of its students go on to be leaders in tackling the world’s toughest issues. Across sectors and across the world, our alumni are forging positive change, and I’m thrilled that we can formally recognise the work of Dhruv and Erica with the support of the Alumni Relations team.’
About the awardees:
Dhruv Lakra has a strong background in the social impact and finance space. He started his career in investment banking at Merrill Lynch and shifted to the social sector after the devastating Asian tsunami of 2004. While living with the fishing community for four months, he found his true calling and decided to work in the social sector.
He has helped many social organisations scale impact through their programmes and strategic planning. Dhruv completed his postgraduate diploma in Social Enterprise Management from SIES College, New Mumbai, where he was awarded ‘The Most Enterprising Student.’
After working for two years in this sector he went on to pursue his MBA on a full Skoll Scholarship at Saïd Business School with the intention of going back to India.
After Oxford, Dhruv founded Mirakle Couriers in Mumbai, which is a for-profit courier service that employs low-income deaf adults. The deliveries are done by deaf men, and the back office is run by deaf women. For his innovative work with the deaf at Mirakle Couriers, Dhruv has been awarded the National Award from the President of India, the Helen Keller Award, the prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship based in New York, and the highest civilian award from the Jammu and Kashmir government. More recently he has been awarded the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) for 2018 from the United States Government.
On receiving the news of his Impact Careers Award, Dhruv commented: ‘It’s been such a privilege to be a part of Saïd Business School and the wider alumni community. The methodology taught in the classroom has a real impact; you can see its use in real-world business examples, leading to the creation of solutions for problems. Oxford Saïd gave me the deep thinking process to develop these solutions and my entrepreneurial journey would have been incomplete without this education.'
Dhruv began his scholarship at Oxford with the intention of returning to his native India upon graduating to implement his learning and affect social change. ‘India is growing rapidly and this breakneck growth is going to push businesses to be more inclusive. We at Mirakle Couriers want to take advantage of this, and be at the forefront of change. We want to develop a business that sets the benchmark for having a strong social mission alongside commercial goals,’ he said.
Erica Mackey believes in creating meaningful, scalable solutions that help people help themselves. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of MyVyllage, a novel approach to solving the childcare crisis in America. MyVyllage is a national network of in-home childcare providers who are working together to provide higher quality care for kids, families, and their communities.
Previously, Erica was the Co-Founder and COO of Off Grid Electric, which has connected more than one million rural Africans to affordable and reliable solar energy. Her ventures have raised more than $150 million from investors like Elon Musk and Paul Allen. She is a Board Member of The Boardroom Africa, a curated online marketplace that connects female candidates with public and private board positions and co-founded the Oxford Women's Leadership Community. Erica was recognised as a Skoll Centre Associate Fellow during her MBA at Oxford Saïd, named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, selected as a delegate for the Academy of Achievement and was awarded the Zayed Future Energy Prize.
When we asked Erica what it meant to be an alumna of Oxford Saïd, she replied: ‘My experience at Saïd Business School changed my future entirely. Not only do I now have an international family and a place to lay my head in any city around the world, but since completing my MBA in 2011, I have co-founded two companies and one university organisation with other Oxford Saïd alumni. Our alumni community is the first place I look for inspiration and support to move my ideas forward.’
With the success of Off Grid Electric in ‘lighting up Africa’ using affordable solar energy, many students have gone on to work for the company. Erica commented: ‘We have consistently relied on the School to support our mission with top talent and as a result, we have hired over eight Oxford MBA graduates in the past handful of years.’
‘The School has consistently reached out with opportunities that intersect with my passions,’ continued Erica, ‘It has connected me with funding resources, talent and thought-leaders in my focus areas. Off Grid Electric would not be serving over one million Africans with affordable and reliable solar energy if it wasn't for the early support of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and the School.’
Erica also talked about the importance of her work: ‘Childcare in America is broken for everyone - kids, families, providers - but it's a systemic problem. Traditionally, to solve a big, systemic problem you'd need to work through the political system, which is slow and full of compromise. But now, with tech, we can create dynamic, sustainable solutions that serve as their own proof of concept. We're not just fixing childcare. We're showing individual communities how they can empower themselves in new ways and work together to solve their own collective problems.’
Social impact alumni, students and faculty from the Oxford Saïd community will celebrate the work of Dhruv and Erica at an award ceremony on Friday, 9 February 2018.