College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Madhu Viswanathan, Director
61 Wohlers Hall
1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL, 61820
(217) 333-4550

College » Subsistence » People


Featured photo.

Here is an incomplete list of individuals who contribute to our initiative, with affiliations to UIUC or other institutions and organizations:-

Madhu Viswanathan

Madhu Viswanathan is the Diane and Steven N. Miller Professor in Business at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he has been on the faculty since 1990.  He earned a B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering (Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, 1985), and a PhD in Marketing (University of Minnesota, 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), Enabling Consumer and Entrepreneurial Literacy in Subsistence Marketplaces (Springer, 2008, in alliance with UNESCO), and Subsistence Marketplaces (etext and ebookpartnerships, 2013).  He directs the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative ( and has pioneered the area of enquiry and practice entitled subsistence marketplaces with unique synergies between research, teaching, and social initiatives.  He teaches courses on research methods and on subsistence and sustainability, educational experiences on the latter, reaching almost a thousand students a year at the University of Illinois, and tens of thousands of students around the world through Coursera. Educational materials on subsistence marketplaces for educators and students is disseminated through a unique web portal, and innovations include a one-of-a-kind international immersion experience. He founded and directs the Marketplace Literacy Project (, a non-profit organization, pioneering the design and delivery of marketplace literacy education to low-income consumers and subsistence marketplaces.  Through his organization and partners, almost 20,000 women have received marketplace literacy education – with ongoing programs or pilots in India, Tanzania, Illinois, and Argentina.  He has received research, teaching, curriculum development, social entrepreneurship, humanitarian, leadership, public engagement, international achievement, and career achievement awards and his course on subsistence marketplaces was ranked one of the top entrepreneurship courses by Inc. magazine.  He serves on the Advisory Board of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and is currently designing marketplace literacy education for a refugee camp in Uganda and a course for UNHCR staff on subsistence marketplaces.


Maria Jones

Maria is a recent graduate of the MBA program, passionate about working at the nexus of poverty and environmental sustainability. Her experience spans three different continents, where she has worked with low-literate, low-income people to help in imparting marketplace literacy training and develop sustainable solutions. Maria has a unique mixed background in Environmental Engineering (focus on sustainability) and Biotechnology.

Maria spent her last summer gaining an unforgettable experience by living and working with the Maasai community in Mkuru village, Tanzania. There, she carried out extensive entrepreneurial literacy trainings amongst women and youth; and consulted for a local co-op. In addition, she has helped develop and implement sustainability education to the low-income and low literate at the Urbana Adult Education center through the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative.

Currently, Maria is researching how marketplace literacy can transform and help in livelihood opportunities for refugees as a part of a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees project, working with Prof. Madhu Viswanathan who serves on the Advisory Board of the UNHCR.

On a final fun note, Maria is an amateur photographer, blogger and worship-band singer and is excited to be a part of the Sustainable Marketplaces Initiative team!

John Clarke

John Clarke is the executive director of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University of Illinois.  The academy for entrepreneurial leadership is focused on developing an entrepreneurial culture in the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Illinois.  The academy views entrepreneurship as a process that can lead to creative solutions for social problems or the formation of new and innovative enterprises.  John has been teaching at Illinois since 2004 as a Clinical Professor in Business Administration, his teaching interests include entrepreneurship, product development, consulting, sustainability, and project management.   He has been involved in the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative since its inception and has co-taught in the program since 2008. 

Dr. Clarke focuses on creating curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students that enable the development of market relevant experiences, attitudes, and leadership skills.  He has led the development of several new courses and programs targeting students from across the campus.  He is the executive director of Illinois Business Consulting, a premier student consulting organization and executive director of The Hoeft Technology & Management Program and joint initiative between the colleges of engineering and business.   He has developed international immersion experiences for undergraduate, graduate, and executive MBA students and led more than 300 students on intensive learning experiences in China, India, and Korea. 

Clarke has over 20 years of executive leadership in both industry and academia. He has significant experience in consulting, professional advising, management, business development, and teaching.  Prior to working at the University of Illinois he worked as a management consultant in Asia, Europe, and North America.

Eric DeBellis

Eric is an undergraduate studying economics and political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His studies have focused on government, law, public policy, environmental policy, and environmental economics. His research outside of MLP has focused on electoral system design, global constitutions, experiential education methods, and environmental history. With MLP, Eric has helped to design and teach marketplace literacy workshops. Currently, he is working to incorporate marketplace literacy into existing mathematical curricula as well as producing a video to promote resource conservation in people’s daily routines. He has a particular interest in legal ecocentrism and bottom-up policy design. He will be starting law school at another university in the fall.

Roland Gau

Roland Gau is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Marketing Area at A.B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University.  His work covers a number of issues relating to low literacy in the US including designing and assessing user-friendly nutrition education materials for educational programs for low-income individuals, designing and testing user-friendly nutritional labels, and understanding the retail shopping experience for low-literate consumers.

John Hedeman

John Hedeman is the director of the Sustainable Marketplaces Lab.  

A lifelong educator, John Hedeman retired in June 2012 as assistant dean for honors in the College of Business. He was hired in 2003 to design, implement, and administer an undergraduate business honors leadership program. He created a new honors program with a unique mission. Students in the program were inspired to use the program to build leadership skills that they were then expected to use to benefit all of the students in the business college. Not only did he teach the freshmen and sophomores in the College of Business Honors Program, he also led annual honors student trips to Germany, Japan/Korea, Brazil, Turkey, India and China. Hedeman served as faculty advisor for three national championship teams in the PwC xACT Case Competition. In 2006, he was honored by the college as recipient of the Emerson Cammack Award for outstanding service to undergraduate students. In 2008, he was recipient of the University of Illinois Educator of the Year Award presented by the University of Illinois Alumni Association. Finally, in 2012, the College of Business recognized Hedeman with its highest honor for staff members with the Academic Professional Award.  

Prior to joining the College of Business, Hedeman was principal and director of the University of Illinois Laboratory High School for five years. The school is consistency cited by Newsweek as one of the top public schools in the country. For fourteen years Hedeman held various teaching, counseling and administrative positions, including Dean of Students, at Parkland College, a public community college. His first job in education was at McDonogh School in Maryland where he was a teacher, coach, houseparent, counselor, and head of upper school.  

Hedeman earned his A.B. degree in English from Princeton University, his M.Ed. from Johns Hopkins University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois  

Upon his retirement from the University of Illinois, Hedeman moved to Lawrence, Kansas. He is presently consulting with honors programs nationally, serving on the board of the Marketplace Literacy Project, and working as an associate with c.k. gunsalus and associates.

Sam Hershman

Sam Hershman is an undergraduate in Finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s College of Business, with a primary academic focus in Corporate Finance. Sam’s research interests are in the field of marketplace literacy, and he is currently working in Champaign-Urbana with a research team to develop lessons to teach marketplace concepts.

Inwoo Jung

In Woo Jung is an undergraduate student studying Global Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2013, In Woo will start the Master of Public Administration program at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research and academic interests focus on community and economic development and marginalized populations in developing and developed contexts. His most recent research examines work as a social inclusion medium for persons with disabilities in Kenya and India. In Woo also runs a food processing social enterprise in Korea that employs persons with disabilities and other at-risk populations.

Kanishka Kumar

Kanishka is an Electrical Engineer at Bombardier Transportation in Pittsburgh PA. He received his BSEE in Electrical Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and MSEE in Power and Energy Systems from University of Wisconsin Madison. Kanishka met Professor Viswanathan at a Micro-Finance conference at University of Illinois where he learned of Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative. During his MSEE he got involved in the development of documents for the initiative.

Ishva Minefee

Ishva Minefee is a doctoral student in International Business at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research emphasizes the influence of role models in new venture creation in subsistence contexts. Additionally, he focuses on how nongovernmental organizations interact with communities and enact social change in poverty settings. Ishva does work in a comparative, cross-country setting to create deeper insights into global phenomena.

Dr S Usha Nandhini

Dr S Usha Nandhini holds an Bachelors degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering, a Masters Degree in Business Management and a Doctorate in Management. She is a core member of our staff in providing immersion experiences for students during field trips to India. Her experience in  teaching includes ten years at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Tiruchirappalli, in the Department of Management Studies.  Currently, she is chairperson of post graduate programs and teaches courses at Amrita University at Bengaluru.  Her teaching interests are in Accounting, Microfinance , Financial Services  and Project Management.  Her research interests are in microfinance,  microenterprise development and corporate social initiatives. She has authored several publications and presented papers at conferences held in India, the US and Europe, including the First Subsistence Marketplaces Conference held in Chicago in 2006. She has held various administrative positions and organized several training and development programs for students and staff ofseveral organizations. She was selected  for the Group Study Exchange Programme to promote Indian culture to the Philippines by the Rotary Club of Rockcity, Tiruchirappalli, India.  She has won prestigious awards for merit and proficiency in case writing and is actively involved in community development projects.

Anusha Narayanan

Anusha is an undergraduate studying Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is passionate about issues regarding the environment and sustainability. Her interests focus on the interconnectedness of environmental degradation and individuals in subsistence marketplaces. Anusha is involved in presenting and creating material about sustainable consumption to deliver to low-income individuals. She is also involved in creating educational modules about sustainable consumption for individuals in the Indian subsistence marketplace. Anusha looks to translate her knowledge and experiences in environmental advocacy to increase sustainable consumption amongst individuals.

Robin Ritchie

Robin Ritchie is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Carleton University's Sprott School of Business in Ottawa, Canada. He earned a B.A. in Political Science at the University of Calgary, along with an M.Sc. in International Business and a Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of British Columbia.

Professor Ritchie's research interests focus on the study of subsistence marketplaces and the effects of consumer suspicion of marketers. He is also investigating brand-building in virtual environments, the nature of competition in the nonprofit sector, and consumer attraction to physically perfect products. He has co-authored a number of publications on subsistence markets, including "Understanding Consumption and Entrepreneurship in Subsistence Marketplaces," published in the Journal of Business Research, and "Designing Marketplace Literacy Education in Resource-Constrained Contexts," published in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.  Other publications include "Damage from Corrective Advertising: Causes and Cures," published in the Journal of Marketing, "The Defensive Consumer: Advertising Deception, Defensive Processing, and Distrust," published in the Journal of Marketing Research, and "A framework for an industry supported destination marketing information system," published in Tourism Management.

Professor Ritchie's work experience includes management of marketing research for Travel Alberta (the tourism marketing agency of the province of Alberta, Canada), and consulting for the Valencian Tourism Institute in Valencia, Spain. He has also served as an account manager with Columbus Group Internet Marketing in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Jose Antonio Rosa

José Antonio Rosa is professor of marketing and sustainable business practices in the Department of Management and Marketing at the University of Wyoming, where he teaches consumer behavior and business-to-business marketing courses to graduate and undergraduate students.  One of his current research areas focuses on the role played by body knowledge in creative imagination, most recently among subsistence consumers in Latin American countries who must develop artifacts to meet daily needs.  He has also looked at the role of body knowledge in creative imagination by professionals involved in problem solving and product development tasks.  Jose has also studied how low-literacy and low-numeracy consumers navigate retail environments that are geared for medium-to-high levels of literacy and numeracy skills.  Jose has been a central contributor to the subsistence marketplaces initiative in many ways, such as through his research in this area, and through cochairing a conference on this topic and coediting a book based on it.  He serves on the board of the Marketplace Literacy Project, a non-profit organization which aimes to empower individuals living in subsistence by enabling consumer and entrepreneurial literacy.

Tejinder Sharma

Tejinder Sharma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Commerce, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, where he has been working since 1998. A graduate in dairy technology (National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, 1991), he completed an MBA (Kurukshetra University, 1993) and then worked with pharma and biochemical industries. He earned his doctorate in strategic marketing in 2002 (Kurukshetra University). He has research interests in marketing, CSR, technology readiness, and consumer behavior in subsistence marketplaces.

Umang Sood

Umang is an undergraduate studying Finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His interests lie in the areas of Corporate Finance and Corporate Law. He has prior experience working with Micro-Financing firms in India and plans to study the application of the principles of Subsistence Marketplaces on the same. Umang is involved in providing creative solutions in order to reach people of varying literacy and income levels in India, Africa and South America. He aspires to effectively communicate the principles of Subsistence Marketplaces and fundamental Business concepts to people regardless of their race, income and geographic disparities.

Steven Sprieser

Steven Sprieser is an undergraduate student in the College of Business at the University of Illinois, where his academic focus is information technology, with concentrations in informatics and entrepreneurship. His research interests lie in developing entrepreneurship and agriculture curriculum for low-literate learners in Sub-Saharan Africa. Steven analyzes decision-making and marketplace interactions in low-literate environments, as well as how local cultures play a role in effective business and vocational education. In addition, Steven studies how to implement energy-efficient, sustainable information and communication technology (ICT) to villages in rural areas of Africa, especially those off the power grid. In addition to being involved with entrepreneurial start-ups at the University of Illinois, he is a consultant with Illinois Business Consulting. Steven has also served as a researcher and consultant for non-profit organizations, ranging from autism legislation to education in Africa.

Srinivas Sridharan

Srinivas Sridharan is a senior lecturer in the department of Marketing at Monash University. His work explores marketing, sales force, and entrepreneurial phenomena in low-income settings, particularly in emerging economies. In current projects, he is investigating issues of sustainable marketing and organization design for business participation in subsistence marketplaces. At Ivey, he teaches undergraduate courses on Value Co-creation in Developing Markets and Sales Force Management and a graduate course on Market Leadership.

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.

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.

Srinivas Venugopal

Srinivas Venugopal has a background in social entrepreneurship and is currently pursuing his MBA at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. Prior to his MBA, he was leading a technology-based social venture focused on delivering education services to low income consumers in rural Tamil Nadu, India. He also runs a NGO called "Diya" which focuses on providing supplementary education in the urban slums of Chennai, India.

K. Vijayakumar

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

Jeannine Koninckx

Dr. Jeannine Koninckx is a doctor in Dental Medicine. She also holds a degree in Agriculture and Enology. Since early in her professional life, she has a deep interest in addressing the problems face by the most disadvantaged. She has been working as a dentist and educator in rural and marginal urban settlements in remote Patagonia and other Andean regions of Latin America.She has conducted numerous campaigns aimed to improve the quality of life of people living in subsistence, through the development and delivery of educational material, specially dedicated to mothers and families in risk. She is a member of Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative at the College of Business at UIUC, focusing on research, education, and community service through marketplace literacy in Latin America, and Spanish language marketplace literacy education in the United States.

Francisco Seufferheld

Francisco Seufferheld holds a degree in Agriculture and in Geography with expertise in the study of dry lands. He has worked extensively in local development and environmental conservation projects, in northern Patagonia and other Andean regions of Latin America, specially in Argentina, Bolivia,Chile and Peru. He has dedicated many years of his career to help in the recovery of culture, heritage and traditions of the native inhabitants of these extensive territories. In recent years he has devoted himself to the development of educational materials and programs, specifically dedicated to improving the quality of life of low literate learners. He is a member of Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative at the College of Business at UIUC, focusing on research, education, and community service through marketplace literacy in Latin America, and Spanish language marketplace literacy education in the United States.



UIUC College of Business