The 'Telugu' in TIME magazine's list of Top 100 Influential People
The poverty in India is disconcerting," says విక్రం బయన ఆకుల (Vikram Bayana Akula). "I just thought I must do something." That's how this story began in the interiors of arid Andhra Pradesh. Akula, who grew up in Schenectady, upstate New York (where father A.V. Krishna is a surgeon), encountered poverty first hand earlier while visiting relatives in Medhak. "It's a tragedy that we NRIs who can do a lot, are not doing enough. We have the skills to solve the problems," he says.
The year that Akula spent in Zaheerabad transformed him forever. For the past 12 years, he's worked tirelessly to help the impoverished people of this Deccan region. Inspired by Mohammad Yunus' micro-credit Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, he started the Swayam Krishi Sangam (SKS) in 1998 in Medhak district. He raised $52,000 from individual contributors in the US with, not surprisingly, 50 per cent of the money coming from NRI doctors. "The idea is to put private sector initiative into alleviating poverty. I don't want to depend on grants or government money."