Vijaya Pastala ’89, MHC Shakti Founding Partner

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 helps 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 Pastala learned 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, first-hand experience of developing farmer-friendly frameworks that impacted rural poverty, Pastala founded Under The Mango Tree in 2009 to address challenges she continuously confronted: India’s declining agricultural productivity and the urgent need to increase rural incomes. Since inception, Under The Mango Tree has affected over 15,000 lives and improved rural incomes by over 30 percent.

Before establishing Under The Mango Tree, Pastala 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, Pastala took a gap year to travel across India with the first edition of the Lonely Planet, keeping in touch with her family through phone calls from post offices. She then headed to Mount Holyoke College for her BA in international relations and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a master’s degree in regional planning.

Besides helming Under The Mango Tree and being the best possible mom to her 12-year-old, Pastala desperately tries to manage the challenge of balance—home, work, and self.