CEO & President, Breakthrough
Sohini Bhattacharya is an intrepid intrapreneur and social change enthusiast who has 25+ years of experience in the development sector. Currently she is CEO & President at Breakthrough, a transnational organization working in U.S. and India using multi-media, popular culture, leadership development and community engagement strategies to prevent gender-based violence. Breakthrough works with 400,000 adolescents and 12,000 women and men across 5 states of India and reaches million with their multi-media products globally.
Sohini started her career working on an Unicef-funded project to create communication materials for the Year of the Girl-child with active participation from rural women in the villages of West Bengal with Child In Need Institute (CINI), a premier Maternal and Child Health organization in India. For the next four years she coordinated the fundraising efforts at the organization as well as help set up the income generation unit for rural women within the CINI catchment area. In 1992 she helped set up Jeevika Development Society, where she worked with rural women enabling them to start income generation and micro-credit programs, training them to do non-traditional income-generation work, like poultry and pig-rearing, as well as more traditional skills like embroidery and sewing.
Between 1992 and 2000, she worked with Dastkar in Delhi, working with traditional craftspeople, identifying their needs and understanding markets, issues in production and the struggle of the craftspeople. In 1996 she co-founded Sanhita, a Gender Rights Centre, in Calcutta, where as a founding trustee she worked on setting the organisation up, creating resource materials on Human Rights and Women’s Rights and modules for training on gender and rights. In 2000 she joined Ashoka Innovators for the Public, an international organisation focused on creating the field for social entrepreneurship in 2000, where she lead institution building for the organisation in South Asia, ramped up the numbers of Fellows elected, raised awareness and resources, rebuild the 300+ Ashoka Fellowship program and created strategic partnerships for 10 years.
Sohini joined Breakthrough as a consultant in 2010, as the Resource Mobilisation head and helped the organisation scale up its annual budget from 150,000 USD to 2.5 million in 2016. As part of the Global Management Team she also contributed significantly to the strategy for an initial growth phase of the organisation from 2012-2016. At the same time, she also worked as the India Strategy Consultant in a start-up – the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), an unique platform for and by people interested in Venture Philanthropy, across India, Japan and Greater China. Sohini joined Breakthrough full-time in 2014 and became the CEO when the founder and president decided to step down in 2017.
Sohini serves on the advisory board of Dastkar, a national organization working with crafts and craftspeople. She is also a founding trustee of Read India, an organization that sets up libraries for rural communities to kickstart income generation initiatives and also serves on the board of Kolkata Sanved, an organization using the power of Dance Movement Therapy to work with women survivors of violence.