Indian American couple donates $1M to set up Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship

New York: California State University, Bakersfield will be receiving $1 million from the Ravi and Naina Patel Foundation to create and support a Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship, according to a news release. The gift will be distributed to the university over a five-year period, starting this year, said the CSUB report. 

“The Gandhi Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship positions Cal State Bakersfield as leaders in an emerging new discipline in business,” said president Lynnette Zelezny. “Social entrepreneurship applies a value-based approach to business innovation to improve the quality of work and life regionally. Through research and program development, faculty and student teams will approach business development in a new way exploring issues like sustainability, building self-sufficient communities and creating workspaces that respect work-life balance. We are truly grateful to Drs. Ravi and Naina Patel for supporting this visionary fellowship.” 

The Patels have long been supporters of CSUB, noted the report. Dr. Ravi Patel, who founded the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center in 1984, has served on the CSUB Foundation board of directors since 2019. 

The Patel Foundation, which was established by the couple in 1998, has also given to the university in the past, such as to establish a scholarship fund to encourage nursing students to pursue a career in oncology. 

The Patels hope the fellowship will encourage young entrepreneurs to operate environmentally and socially sustainable businesses. 

“It’s very important that certain principles and ethics be applied in business,” Ravi Patel said. “You need to be able to run a business efficiently and make a profit, but at the same time be focused on the greater good of society and mankind. This fellowship will provide a good roadmap for applying business in a way that brings about great changes that benefit society.” 

The fellowship aims to merge business with the principles and beliefs of Gandhi regarding the ethical use of wealth to develop strategies for addressing issues in our region. 

“You can make money while doing good for society. It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” said Naina Patel. “Both can be done together as one. That is what we are trying to show through this fellowship. It’s about creating compassionate entrepreneurship.” 

The Gandhi Fellowship is expected to be in place by next fall and will be initially awarded to one CSUB faculty member along with a student assistant, said the report. 

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