Ajaita Shah
Ajaita Shah

Ajaita Shah

Advocate for South Asia
Frontiers Markets
Founder & CEO

Meet Ajaita

Ajaita Shah is an investor, entrepreneur, and ecosystem enabler.

She is the Founder of Frontier Markets, and of Frontier Innovations Foundation. She has been working with social enterprises and in rural India in microfinance, rural distribution, marketing, and gender-lens impact investing for 19+ years. Ajaita is committed to empowering rural women across the developing world through business models, financial inclusion, technology, data, climate, and inspiring women to push themselves beyond their societal boundaries.

Early Milestones and Business Development

Ajaita Shah funded Frontier Markets – a social e-commerce business – in 2011 with the aim of supplying essential products to rural India. Initially focusing on torches and solar lanterns, the organization used last-mile distribution points and collaborated with rural traders to reach customers in remote areas. As customer demands diversified, Frontier Markets then expanded its offering to include digital services and other consumer durables.

Faced with social barriers and a lack of resources in the social enterprise landscape, Ajaita took a proactive approach by creating the Frontier Innovations Foundation in 2012, with the objective of supporting entrepreneurs tackling the challenges of last-mile distribution. Above all, her personal journey and expertise in gender dynamics, along with her 12 years of experience in microfinance and clean energy distribution, drove her to empower rural communities and tackle last-mile distribution challenges head-on through innovation and advocacy.

Empowering women through digital technologies and e-commerce isn't just about transactions; it's about transformation. It's about unlocking their boundless potential, breaking barriers, and shaping a future where every woman can thrive, lead, and inspire.

Social Impact

Ajaita has been a global leader supporting gender-based interventions in the global south through her activities as a practitioner and board member. She is on the board of SHINE Invest, General Partner Advisor of Beyond Capital Ventures, and has helped start several incubators for women startup ecosystems globally.

Recognition and Awards

Ajaita has won many awards including Schwab Award for Social Entrepreneurship 2024, Economic Times and Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40, Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Women Transforms India Award, CNBC Female Founder Award, Loreal Women of Worth and more. She is a Women’s Changemaker Fellow at Womanity Foundation, Dasra Leadership Fellow, and Echoing Green Fellow. She is a global speaker in forums including COP 23, United Nations, World Economic Forum, and more on digital inclusion, to climate change to gender smart investing.

In a Nutshell

Frontier Markets / Saral Jeevan Sahelis:

  • Operates in 5,000 villages in India
  • Managing 25,000 Sahelis using their technology platform called the Meri Saheli App
  • Finance to over 1,000,000 households.

Frontier Innovations Foundation /She-Leads Impact Fund:

  • Support 1 million women entrepreneurs
  • To help facilitate impact for 100 million families by 2030.
  • She-Leads X was launched in COP 23 to support this model for scale in the global south