"My life mission is to help
1 million entrepreneurs
grow their businesses and scale their platforms"
Saleema is the Founder and CEO of Ripple Impact, an accelerator and community that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses and platforms. At the age of 21, Saleema co-founded and launched Brazil’s top-rated language school to finance an orphanage. She later co-founded a leading online translation agency to help companies expand their digital presence globally. She has co-founded seven ventures with three exits.
In 2017, she co-led an award-winning study at the World Bank on addressing food insecurity in conflict-affected countries through climate-smart technologies. She has also contributed to impact evaluations and other research for various international organizations.
She is the Adjunct Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at University Startups. Saleema also teaches Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship at Johns Hopkins University and frequently guest lectures at business schools.
Saleema speaks on innovative leadership, entrepreneurship, and inclusive innovation. She also gave a TEDx talk at Texas A&M University on Innovation Starts With I in March 2021.
Saleema is the author of Innovation Starts With I. She has co-authored 15 publications in international development and evaluation, including Frontier Agriculture for Improving Refugee Livelihoods: Unleashing Climate-Smart and Water-Saving Agricultural Technologies in MENA, and Insect and Hydroponic Farming in Africa: The New Circular Food Economy. She also regularly contributes to Forbes.
Founder & CEO of Ripple Impact, Author of Innovation Starts With I
Need a bio? Here you go:
Saleema Vellani is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and researcher, keynote speaker, a 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 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.
Saleema Vellani is an award-winning Innovation Strategist, 9x Founder, TEDx Speaker, Adjunct Professor, and the Bestselling Author of Innovation Starts With I. Saleema is the Founder & CEO of Ripple Impact, which is a business accelerator and community that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses and scale their platforms. She also teaches Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship at Johns Hopkins University and is a frequent guest lecturer at business schools.
For nearly 15 years, Saleema has led 100+ startups, international organizations, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies to their next stage of growth and innovation. She contributes to Forbes Women and has been published in 15 research publications, most recently on promoting a circular economy and improving refugee livelihoods through hydroponics
After hearing about Saleema through my various colleagues, I was hooked during our initial phone conversation. I knew she would make the perfect keynote speaker on Innovative Leadership for our women's leadership event in Orlando, Florida. Saleema is not only an expert in her content, structure and delivery, but her perspectives are refreshing and her stories are incredibly unique—they stick. After a full day of programming, she kept her closing keynote interactive and the audience was super engaged. Everyone was really excited to hear from her. Her actionable takeaways enabled us to walk away not only inspired, but impacted in a way where we could immediately implement our learnings and outcomes. I highly recommend her and will be booking her again!Sam ChaganiExecutive Vice President Smart Energy Solutions
Saleema is an outstanding speaker and facilitator who knows how to engage a diverse audience of any size, age, and learning style. She facilitated our first design thinking workshop at our annual Leadership Summit for the International Economic Development Council, where hundreds of our most senior leaders from economic development organizations across the USA and Canada came together in Tampa. Her workshop was by far the most engaging and well-attended—the room was packed! I was so impressed by the engagement that I grabbed my CEO for him to check out her workshop. I had never seen anything like it! We continue to hear excellent feedback from our members on the impact the session has had on their leadership style in their various organizations. Her story and interactive facilitation style were memorable. We look forward to bringing her back to our Annual Conference in Dallas, TX this year!Claudia Bellony AtangaConference Programming Manager, International Economic Development Council
I was tasked with finding a keynote speaker for Centric's Day of Innovation conference. We really wanted s I omeone who could speak to the intersection of inclusion and innovation. Saleema's talk was perfect at setting the tone for the Day of Innovation. We were so grateful for her sharing her story and wisdom with us. One of the things that set Saleema apart when we were considering potential keynote speakers was how she so beautifully wove the personal element into innovation lessons. Our audience loved the interactive moments she created. We heard great feedback about her talk!Sara McGuyerPrincipal Yes and Yonder