I help changemakers


maximize their impact.

I’m Saleema

I’m part keynote speaker, part social entrepreneur — and all about helping others leverage their strengths to maximize their potential. I combined over 15 years of experience in business, marketing, education, and international development to develop innovative tools that help changemakers increase their influence and level up their impact.

I currently run Ripple Impact, a business accelerator, where we help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and scale their platforms.

You can follow me on LinkedIn here.

60+ Countries
150+ Speaking Engagements
12+ Publications
5+ Languages

Impact is about how you want to feel. It starts with knowing who you are and harnessing your sweet spot.

Need a bio? Here you go:

LONGER

Saleema Vellani is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, professor, and the author of Innovation Starts With “I”. At the age of 21, Saleema co-founded and launched Brazil’s largest and #1 language school to finance an orphanage and social development programs, which has taught several thousands of students to date. Shortly after, she co-founded and ran a leading online translation agency in Italy to help companies expand their digital presence globally while generating hundreds of jobs in the gig economy. The business was acquired in 2012. For over 12 years, Saleema has led 100+ international organizations, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies to their next stage of growth and innovation.

As an intrapreneur, Saleema has been co-leading award-winning, groundbreaking research with the World Bank on solving food insecurity in conflict-affected countries through climate-smart technologies since 2016. Given her experience with running businesses online, in 2013, Saleema was hired by Upwork (formerly Elance) to train Washington DC-based organizations and business owners on how to hire and manage remote teams.

Currently, Saleema and her team at Ripple Impact educate, advise, and connect entrepreneurs who are seeking to increase their influence and maximize their impact. She also teaches Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship at Johns Hopkins University and is a frequent guest lecturer at business schools.

Saleema is the Chair for the Global Conference for the Association for Human Resources Management in International Organizations (AHRMIO) in Brussels, Belgium. She is an advisor to several startups and impact-driven organizations, including Net Impact, SXSW Pitch, Startup Africa, Wonder Women Tech, and the World Bank Youth-2-Youth Community.

Saleema holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Development from McGill University and a Master’s degree in International Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian. Born and raised in Canada, she is proud of her multicultural upbringing as a Toronto native with East African and Indian roots.

SHORTER

Saleema Vellani is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, professor, and the author of Innovation Starts With “I”. For over 12 years, Saleema has led 100+ international organizations, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies to their next stage of growth and innovation.

Currently, Saleema and her team at Ripple Impact educate, advise, and connect entrepreneurs who are seeking to increase their influence and maximize their impact. She also teaches Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship at Johns Hopkins University and is a frequent guest lecturer at business schools.

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Where did you grow up?

In the suburbs of Toronto, Canada. Yes, I’m Canadian!

Where do you live now?

Washington D.C.

How long have you lived there?

Since 2011.

What made you decide to do the work you do?

When my life crashed and I lost nearly everything I had, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery and had to redesign my life in order to make the impact I wanted to make. I learned several lessons and built a lot of tools along the way to help others seeking personal growth.

What animal best describes you?

A cheetah. I have an unstoppable drive that moves at the speed of lightning.

What’s your theme song?

La Vida Es Un Carnaval by Celia Cruz

Where have you lived?

Canada, Brazil, Italy, Dominican Republic, and the USA.

What’s one thing you can do that might surprise other people?

I speak five languages fluently. English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and bits and pieces of some others.

If you could only ask ONE question to learn as much about someone as you possibly could, what would it be?

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

What’s your answer to that question?

I would reverse the failure rate of entrepreneurs.

What was your most unusual job?

Concierge at a beach resort in the Dominican Republic.

What’s one thing do you do every single day to maintain your sanity?

Dark chocolate.