R. Venkatesan

Since 2001, Venkat has been a pioneer in enabling marketplace literacy among low-literate, low-income individuals in India. Prior to his work with Marketplace Literacy Project, Venkat worked for the Guild of Service, on an international livelihood development project for below-poverty-line individuals. In his work with the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative, Venkat has led multiple research projects, qualitative and quantitative alike. He has also been instrumental in designing and facilitating numerous international student immersion trips to India. Venkat’s passion for enabling consumer and entrepreneurial literacy sees him wearing multiple hats, that of a researcher and a teacher. His leadership in creating video based lessons on marketplace literacy has enabled hundreds of participants to benefit from the program. Capturing his vast experience in the domain, he has co-authored a book titled “Enabling Consumer and Entrepreneurial Literacy in Subsistence Marketplace”. Venkat’s commitment to research has been a constant source of support for many PhD students of UIUC, studying various aspects of subsistence marketplaces.


S. Sudhakar

Sudhakar has been part of the marketplace Literacy Project since June 2010. Over the past 6 years, he has worked at the grassroots level for a number of social enterprises operating in rural areas of Tamil Nadu, India. Currently, he is part of the project team creating video-based learning material targeted at subsistence entrepreneurs and consumers. He is also involved in a research project exploring the evolution of subsistence enterprise ecosystems.



K Vijayakumar (Viji) has been inspirational contributor in the field of marketplace literacy for several years. His interest in social work was kindled while working for the Guild of Service Plan International. His passion has driven him to work as an outside support for the subsistence marketplace initiative. In 2011, he joined the organization fulltime and has since been working as a research associate for the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative at the University of Illinois. He has played a central role in designing video based training program for consumer and entrepreneur literacy. He is also a strong source of support for doctoral students from UIUC working in the arena of subsistence marketplaces. He has played a crucial role in designing and implementing international student immersion trips to India. Viji has a passion for research and has played a leading role in localizing and administering numerous surveys and field experiments in challenging contexts


Madhu Viswanathan

Madhu Viswanathan has been on the faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, since 1990. His research programs are in two areas; measurement and research methodology, and literacy, poverty, and subsistence marketplace behaviors. He has authored books in both areas: Measurement Error and Research Design (Sage, 2005), and Enabling Consumer and Entrepreneurial Literacy in Subsistence Marketplaces (Springer, 2008, in alliance with UNESCO). His research program with a methodological orientation on measurement and research design paralleled many years of teaching research at all levels. It culminated in a book directed at the social sciences that provides a most detailed conceptual dissection of measurement error. This work is a striking departure from the existing literature, which emphasizes a statistical orientation without sufficient elucidation of the conceptual meaning of measurement error.
His research on subsistence marketplaces takes a micro-level approach to gain bottom-up understanding of life circumstances and buyer, seller, and marketplace behaviors. This perspective aims to enable subsistence marketplaces to move toward being ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable marketplaces. His research is synergized with innovative teaching and social initiatives. He teaches courses on research methods, on sustainable product and market development for subsistence marketplaces, and on sustainability in general. He is part of the faculty team teaching a unique course on Sustainable Product and Market Development for Subsistence Marketplaces. He cochairs conferences on subsistence marketplaces and is coeditor of a book and a special issue of a journal based on these conferences.
He founded and directs the Marketplace Literacy Project, a non-profit organization that aims to enable consumer and entrepreneurial literacy for low-literate, low-income individuals. Initiatives of this organization include the development of a consumer and entrepreneurial literacy program offered in Tamil Nadu, South India, to low-income. low-literate individuals. Working with the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension, his research and dissemination efforts have also focused on developing user-friendly nutritional education materials for programs for low-income individuals in the US.