Meet the team

Samaaru is a Pioneering Ventures group company co-created with accomplished agri finance and technology industry veterans.

Pioneering Ventures is a nutrition and tech platform company based in India and Switzerland. To know more, please visit https://www.pioneering-ventures.com.

MICHAEL ANDRADE

Co-founder, Managing Director and CEO

Michael is a co-founder at Samaaru India and leads all Samaaru companies as CEO, leading strategy, business and product development, distribution innovation, and ownership of the company’s business plan towards value creation for all stakeholders.

Michael started Samaaru after a 20-year career with HDFC Bank, including 15 years as head of Agri and Rural Banking. His business portfolio included agri lending, commodities, co-operatives, and financial inclusion. As a pioneer in agri supply chain finance, he conceptualised and executed the Milk-to-Money business at the bank. He built an agri lending book ~$300 mn in unsecured value chain finance to ~300k farmers with <1% default rates, and a total loan book of ~$5 bn. He incubated three ecosystem partners along the way to enable efficient distribution and de-risking. Prior to leading the agri and rural portfolio, he worked in corporate banking at HDFC Bank and worked 10 years with Barclays and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank in trade finance and retail banking.

Michael is an advisor to the World Bank and was a Steering Committee member at AgriFin (World Bank Group). He enjoys training the next generation of leaders at the Reserve Bank of India College of Agricultural Banking, the State Bank of India and the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow.

SANDEEP RAJU

Co-founder and Board Member

Sandeep is a co-founder at Samaaru India. As Chief Investment Officer at Pioneering Ventures, he co-led the incubation of Samaaru as a PV group company and serves as a board member overseeing platform services, new business incubation, and investor relations.

Sandeep earlier served in P&L leadership, M&A, investments and incubation roles at Infosys and Wipro. He learnt venture development skills by training on board-sponsored projects at Infosys including the Life Sciences Practice (incubation lead and first employee), Lodestone ($350 mn acquisition), OnMobile (NSE: ONMOBILE), Yantra (now IBM), Stratify (now Iron Mountain), CiDRA, Workadia and Infosys China. Over two decades, he has learnt from stressed venture and market situations during three downturns. As an executive, entrepreneur or lead investor, he has helped create ~1000 new jobs, led multi-cultural teams of ~1500 associates, worked on venture transactions worth ~$0.5 billion, delivered ~6x growth over 6 years as a P&L leader, and co-created ~7x value with co-investors in recent years.

Deepak Goswami

CFO

Deepak is CFO for Samaaru India and an early member of the executive leadership team. He is responsible for setting up and leading finance, treasury, legal, governance and compliance capabilities to enable scalability and profitable growth for various business lines of Samaaru.

Deepak comes with 20 years of diversified experience across NBFCs (8 years), Fintech, IT & ITES and other industries. He has led IPO preparations, driven finance and business transformations, set up and led large treasury, FP&A and Controllership operations, and led the setup and execution of best-in-class core processes and teams for high- growth businesses. He served as CFO at Spandana, one of India’s top microfinance companies (NBFC-MFI), supported 2x AUM growth to ~$0.5 bn, and led preparations for their IPO. He earlier worked with SBI Cards (a leading credit card NBFC, ex SBI-GE JV) for over 6 years and supported 6x AUM growth to ~$2 bn, concluding his tenure as SVP Finance. His prior stints include Mahindra Comviva, Tata Power and Acme Group.

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 Dinesh Poduval

Co-founder and COO

Dinesh joined Samaaru as a co-founder and serves as COO for Samaaru India. His primary responsibilities are to lead Farm Services, Post Harvest Services, Lending Operations, and Payments & Cross-sell. He additionally leads Human Resources and Supplier Relationships at Samaaru.

He was earlier President at Centillion, a tech-enabled service provider for banking and financial services domain, where he scaled the company from $0.5 mn to $7 mn with a clear focus on tech-enabled services across digitization, audit and banking correspondent services. At TechProcess (an Ingenico company), a leading payment processor in India, he was responsible for $5 bn in annual payments and settlement volume across 100+ branches with 25 mn electronic transactions. As Head of Digital for Indecomm Global Services and in multiple roles at Teleperformance (formerly Intelenet), HSBC and Deloitte Consulting, he managed the digitization and processing of more than 100 mn documents. He has clocked close to 20+ years in the IT & ITES industry across BFSI, Retail & Revenue Management Services. He served as a National Councillor for Indian Institute of Materials Management for a period of 2 years.

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Rochan S

Co-founder and CTO

Rochan is co-founder at Samaaru India and leads the conceptualization and development of all Samaaru platforms. He is passionate about applying technology to strengthen agri value chains and deliver impact at scale.

Rochan was earlier co-founder at MoneySmart, a personal finance and investment fintech company. His first entrepreneurial venture was as founder at Zloka, a bidding fee auction e-commerce website. He earlier worked with Infosys for eight years across consulting, technology and business development roles. While at Infosys, he delivered complex and regulated enterprise systems for global leaders in agribusiness, financial services and life sciences. His work included building a core backbone for a life sciences client that became a key market differentiator and led to a transaction premium when they were subsequently acquired. He later led the APAC region for Infosys’ IT Strategy and Information Management Practice.

Early in his career, Rochan was responsible for re-engineering the then world’s largest B2B maintenance services marketplace (run by GE) for performance and new processes. At the beginning of his career, he worked for ~2 years at IBM’s TJ Watson Research Centre, where he worked on imaging technologies.

RON PAL

Founder and Chairman, Pioneering Ventures AG.

Ron Pal serves on the boards of Samaaru Holding and Samaaru India, contributing his vast experience and networks in Indian agribusiness to support the development of Samaaru. He is the Founder of Pioneering Ventures and serves as Chairman and CEO of the company. Pioneering Ventures is an Indo-Swiss food, finance and tech platform company that aims to reinvent the food ecosystem to provide people with healthy food in a sustainable manner.

Pioneering Ventures commenced in 2009 to understand and unlock the potential of Indian agriculture and modernize the food system through the development of world-class food ventures that integrate value chains using the transformative potential of technology. As a serial entrepreneur, Ron’s passion is to invent, incubate and grow transformative businesses that deliver consistent financial return and create a positive social impact. Over the past years, Ron has led PV to build a strong portfolio of five tech-enabled growth businesses and two pilot ventures. Under his stewardship, PV has delivered annual revenues of $ 65 million in FY 2020 with a 4-year CAGR of 117%, collaborating directly with 15,000 farmer families and impacting a larger ecosystem of farmers and entrepreneurs in the process.

Before founding PV, Ron was President and CEO at USM Haller’s American operations and served as CEO at Access Arena. Swiss-Indian by origin, Ron grew up in Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Switzerland. He studied business administration in the US and hotel management in Switzerland.

RON PAL

Founder and Chairman, Pioneering Ventures

Ron Pal serves on the boards of Samaaru Holding and Samaaru India, contributing his vast experience and networks in Indian agribusiness to support the development of Samaaru. He is the Founder of Pioneering Ventures and serves as Chairman and CEO of the company. Pioneering Ventures is an Indo-Swiss food, finance and tech platform company that aims to reinvent the food ecosystem to provide people with healthy food in a sustainable manner.

Pioneering Ventures commenced in 2009 to understand and unlock the potential of Indian agriculture and modernize the food system through the development of world-class food ventures that integrate value chains using the transformative potential of technology. As a serial entrepreneur, Ron’s passion is to invent, incubate and grow transformative businesses that deliver consistent financial return and create a positive social impact. Over the past years, Ron has led PV to build a strong portfolio of five tech-enabled growth businesses and two pilot ventures. Under his stewardship, PV has delivered annual revenues of $ 65 million in FY 2020 with a 4-year CAGR of 117%, collaborating directly with 15,000 farmer families and impacting a larger ecosystem of farmers and entrepreneurs in the process.

Before founding PV, Ron was President and CEO at USM Haller’s American operations and served as CEO at Access Arena. Swiss-Indian by origin, Ron grew up in Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Switzerland. He studied business administration in the US and hotel management in Switzerland.

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FRANCISCO FERNANDEZ

Co-founder and Board Member, Pioneering Ventures AG

Francisco Fernandez is Chairman of Samaaru Holding, overseeing all technology development and commercialization of the company. He is a co-founder at Pioneering Ventures, an Indo-Swiss food, finance and tech platform that aims to reinvent the food ecosystem to provide healthy food to the world in a sustainable manner. He currently serves as the member of the board and leads PV’s technology initiatives.

An entrepreneurial stalwart, Francisco is also the founder and creator of Avaloq, a leading global wealth management cloud platform and services provider for financial institutions. Throughout his career, Francisco has been disrupting traditional business models in various industries to make the relationships between stakeholders more efficient, transparent and value creating.

In 2018, Francisco joined PV as a co-founder to lead the technology initiative with the vision to use data to transform food systems to the advantage of all stakeholders involved. Over the past years, Francisco has been the driving force behind the development of PV’s tech and data strategy and the creation of the food and tech platform. A core element of this platform is Samaaru, a farmer-centric agri-finance and value chain services company co-created with accomplished agri-finance and technology industry leaders in India. 

Francisco has a master’s degree in informatics from ETH Zurich and a post-degree study in Business economics at the ETH’s Center for Industrial Management. Apart from his family, he loves playing jazz piano and helping tech start-ups.

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PABLO ERAT

Co-founder, Pioneering Ventures

Dr. Pablo Erat serves on the board of Samaaru India. He is co-founder of Pioneering Ventures (PV), an Indo-Swiss food, finance and tech platform that aims to reinvent the food ecosystem to provide healthy food to the world in a sustainable manner. He currently serves as the member of the board and maintains strategic oversight of PV’s corporate and business units, leading corporate communication and branding.

Pablo is an entrepreneur, investor and a passionate triathlete. He has 17+ years of strategic consulting experience and a strong entrepreneurial track record. He has successfully led incubation and development of agricultural and food supply chain ventures in India.

Pablo joined PV as a project CEO in 2009 to lead the incubation of Citrus International, India’s first large-scale orange juice concentrate manufacturer. Under his leadership, the project team developed the business turn-key solution, acquired Proterra as lead investor and HDFC and PepsiCo as co-investors.

In 2000 , Pablo co-founded the strategy consulting firm Executive Insight and became a recognized thought leader, developing transformative strategies and competence-based organizational models. Pablo also served as a lecturer for corporate strategy at the Department of Management, Technology and Economics at ETH, Switzerland. He has authored multiple papers published across respected academic and industry journals and international platforms. He earned his post-graduate and doctoral degrees in strategy and organization from Institute of Management (IFB), University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

PABLO ERAT

Co-founder, Pioneering Ventures

Dr. Pablo Erat serves on the board of Samaaru India. He is co-founder of Pioneering Ventures (PV), an Indo-Swiss food, finance and tech platform that aims to reinvent the food ecosystem to provide healthy food to the world in a sustainable manner. He currently serves as the member of the board and maintains strategic oversight of PV’s corporate and business units, leading corporate communication and branding.

Pablo is an entrepreneur, investor and a passionate triathlete. He has 17+ years of strategic consulting experience and a strong entrepreneurial track record. He has successfully led incubation and development of agricultural and food supply chain ventures in India.

Pablo joined PV as a project CEO in 2009 to lead the incubation of Citrus International, India’s first large-scale orange juice concentrate manufacturer. Under his leadership, the project team developed the business turn-key solution, acquired Proterra as lead investor and HDFC and PepsiCo as co-investors.

In 2000 , Pablo co-founded the strategy consulting firm Executive Insight and became a recognized thought leader, developing transformative strategies and competence-based organizational models. Pablo also served as a lecturer for corporate strategy at the Department of Management, Technology and Economics at ETH, Switzerland. He has authored multiple papers published across respected academic and industry journals and international platforms. He earned his post-graduate and doctoral degrees in strategy and organization from Institute of Management (IFB), University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

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DIDIER SANGIORGIO

Co-owner and former CEO, Walder Wyss AG

Dr. Didier Sangiorgio serves on the board of Samaaru Holding.  He is a Co-Founder and member of  the Board of Pioneering Ventures (PV), an Indo-Swiss food, finance and tech platform that aims to reinvent the food ecosystem to provide healthy food to the world in a sustainable manner. Didier joined Ron’s ventures in 2006 and serves since then on several boards of PV’s portfolio companies.

Didier is a partner at Walder Wyss Ltd, a legal services firm of repute in Switzerland. He advises corporations from different sectors, inter alia the sectors information technology, telecommunication, insurance, health care, life sciences and media. His area of expertise cover a vast selection of IT- and Telecom-related transactions including comprehensive system integration and global outsourcing projects as well as M&A transactions. In addition he holds several directorships on Boards of non-listed corporations and trusts. 

Currently, Didier is the co-chair of the Zurich Bar’s Technology and Telecom Law Practice Group. He has also held the position of co-chair of the International Bar Association’s Committee on Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law.  He worked as a part-time lecturer at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology (ETH) Zurich from 1997 to 2009.

Didier has completed his post-graduate and doctoral degrees from University of Zurich (lic. iur. 1984, Dr. iur. 1996) and Georgetown University Law School, Washington DC (LLM, 1992). He is registered with the Zurich Bar and admitted to practice in all Switzerland.

 

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ANIL NATH

Compliance advisor, HSBC

Anil Nath serves on the board of Samaaru India. He is a banker with a 42+ years of experience in nationalised, private sector and MNC banks. He is currently the compliance advisor at HSBC. Anil has 15+ years of leadership experience at HDFC Bank. In all his appointments, Anil has demonstrated capability of setting up nascent businesses and taking them to best in class status both in terms of size and quality. 

He has worked at State Bank of India for 18 years where he was exposed to all systems and processes in customer facing department like branches and business verticals like SME finance, corporate banking treasury operations, etc. Anil has also worked with Times Bank and Centurion Bank. 

ANIL NATH

Compliance advisor, HSBC

Anil Nath serves on the board of Samaaru India. He is a banker with a 42+ years of experience in nationalised, private sector and MNC banks. He is currently the compliance advisor at HSBC. Anil has 15+ years of leadership experience at HDFC Bank. In all his appointments, Anil has demonstrated capability of setting up nascent businesses and taking them to best in class status both in terms of size and quality. 

He has worked at State Bank of India for 18 years where he was exposed to all systems and processes in customer facing department like branches and business verticals like SME finance, corporate banking treasury operations, etc. Anil has also worked with Times Bank and Centurion Bank.

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