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Ashna Mahepal

President, Suriname - India Business Council

Suriname

She is an alumna of the Young Leaders of the America’s Initiative (YLAI Professional fellows Program 2016) for emerging young leaders within Latin-America and the Caribbean with demonstrated professional entrepreneurial experience, knowledge and commitment to their communities. She was recognized with a certificate signed by former U.S.A. president Barack Obama. A year later Ashna was selected as a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow by the presidentially appointed Fulbright Board for the USA’s flagship exchange. She served as a representative of Latin-American and Caribbean Countries at the Fulbright H.H.H. Global Leadership Forum. Her Fulbright certificate is signed by president Donald Trump. She currently fulfills the role of vice-chair of the Suriname-America Alumni Association in Suriname. Ashna is the founder and CEO of Foundation YHS. For the past 3.5 years she has been pioneering Robotics Education (Technical Vocational STEM application and Innovation) in Suriname including creating awareness (for building ‘Skills of the Future’) and taking student teams and peer-mentors to global level robotics coopetitions (to Washington DC in 2017, Mexico City in 2018 and United Arab Emirates in 2019) in support of also building global collaboration and robotics networks. As a social entrepreneur she has initiated and successfully implemented several projects in Suriname and abroad in collaboration with organizations such as the U.S State Department, Michigan State University UNA, FIRST Global, Johnson C. Smith University, Meridian International, the Greater Lansing United Nations Association, American Embassy Paramaribo, United Nations Development Programme, the Inter-American Development Bank and local partners. All projects are aligned to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and involve youth and mentorship. Ashna has worked in Washington DC (USA) for a UN specialized agency alongside senior advisors where she co-led a 16-person international specialist team on developing a framework for international bench-marked project management best practices. She’s given presentations at events in Michigan, North-Carolina, Washington DC and Reykjavik, Iceland on topics such as leadership, entrepreneurship and gender equality. In 2017 she presented the personal message of Suriname’s Vice President at the Women Economic Forum in Iceland. As project manager of two national-scale projects on strengthening local businesses and improving business competitiveness, she contributed to having 104 Surinamese companies implement quality management systems and obtain international accredited certifications (ISO9001:2008; ISO14001:2008; ISO22000, HACCP, Global GAP and BRC). She co-managed several infrastructural projects for the government of Suriname and lastly functioned as team lead and project manager of the department’s then largest project, an infrastructure initiative of about USD 200 million in which a 127 km section of the north-eastern corridor of Suriname was rehabilitated (paving of road and 14 bridges) as part of South-American Regional Infrastructure Integration while serving as a counterpart to various international financing organizations and stakeholders. Ashna is a Lifelong Education Graduate of Michigan State University (Broad Collage of Business and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development – USA). She is valedictorian of her post-graduate Public Administration studies. Her Master’s degree in Governance is from Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands) in collaboration with FHR Lim A Po Institute (Suriname). She has a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, majoring in Information Technology (Telematics) from the Anton de Kom University of Suriname (in South-America). She was the first female of her cohort to graduate and served as student representative for three consecutive years within the University student body. She also graduated from high school as valedictorian. She’s been an active member within her church community for about 2 decades now, initiated and supported several community projects and completed training in spiritual leadership. She was radio program maker and co-host of a weekly youth Christian music program. As a certified lecturer Ashna has supervised several Bachelor Business Administration students’ research and thesis writing on ISO quality management system, staff redundancy scheme, good governance and customer service improvement. Ashna loves to explore new places to learn and observe and has till date travelled to 14 countries/islands (Panama, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, USA, Canada, Iceland, Guyana, Trinidad, Aruba, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Curaçao, India and China) for either work, professional development or vacation. According to Ashna, this has significantly enriched her global perspective and along with her Christian belief influence her approach on matters and people on getting things done.

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