Dr. Nandini Bhaskara Rao
Specialization: Economics
Home institution in US: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C.
Host Institution in India: Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh       
Start date/Month in India: September 2012
Duration of grant: 9 months

Brief Bio:
Dr. Nandini Rao, a native of Hyderabad, India, holds a B.Arch. in architecture and a M.A. in housing from the School of Planning and Architecture, India. She graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Her doctoral dissertation, “A Place to Live, A Place to Work: Does Home Based Employment Empower Low-Income Women in India?” examines women’s ability to appropriate, control and use space to generate income, and assesses their ability to translate into participation in decisions that affect their own lives and those of household members.

Dr. Rao joined the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 2006 as a management analyst. She works in the Federal Housing Administration Office of Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs. She presently lives in Reston, Virginia with her husband and spirited 4-year old. She enjoys reading, music, photography, travelling and solving crossword puzzles.

Dr. Rao’s Fulbright research project, “Sustainability of Microfinance Agencies: A Key to the Economic and Social Empowerment of Low-Income Women?” will contribute to a small but growing body of research into the proliferation and practices of self-help groups and microfinance institutions (MFIs) in India and their clientele: demographic, occupational and household characteristics, and repayment rates. Her research will focus on the social and economic empowerment of low-income women who use microfinance to generate livelihoods. It will seek to identify what microfinance interventions are working best to empower these women and how these interventions can be made sustainable through MFIs.