Vandana Sharad - Director
Vandana Sharad received her Masters in Gender and Development and her Bachelor’s in Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University, followed by Fashion Design Diploma from National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT,) New Delhi and an AAS in Advertising and Marketing Communication from Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) New York.
Previously, she worked with Nike India as National Head for Retail Marketing, as the National Head for Retail and Outdoor Marketing with Reebok India, Head of Visual Merchandising with Swatch Group India and as Retail Marketing Manager for Grasim Industries over a career spanning a decade and a half. She won awards like the Best Team Player and Best Innovator during her professional career.
Her passion to contribute to the development of society led Vandana to start working with artisans in her country of residence, Cote d’Ivoire. Her interaction with victims of the war, especially children left orphaned due to war, convinced her that art could be the great healer for traumatized and hurting hearts.
House of Avana was founded to work with artisans to help increase sustainable incomes for West African artisans through ecommerce. Through the Project ART IN HEART, the company works with children in orphanages in war-affected zones to train them in vocational courses and heal them using art as a medium.
Sharad Sridhar - Director
Sharad Sridhar was born and raised in India. He received a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Biology from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS,) New Delhi, followed by a Masters of Business Administration from International Management Institute (IMI,) New Delhi. Sharad is a specialist in the agri-food business and has worked with ITC, India and Archers Daniels Midland, India and West Africa.
Currently, Sharad lives in Abidjan and consults and advises multinationals on entry strategies in West Africa. He also manages a food import and a farming business.
Sharad is the principal investor for House of Avana and is a co-owner of the business.
Sunil Joseph D'Souza - Director
Sunil D’Souza is a Mechanical Engineer and an IT Consultant and through his career spanning over 20 years, he has worked with reputed Multinational organizations like BBC, Siemens, HP, Hitachi, Samsung and Harrods in UK.
House of Avana is Sunil’s pet project, where he manages and handles all technical requirements of the business, besides handling business development and tie-ups with global marketplaces. Through this venture, Sunil contributes to the society by creating sustainable incomes for artisans in West Africa by pushing global sales.
Sunil is an active member of the company’s CSR venture called Project Art in Heart, whereby the company is focusing on training children orphaned during civil wars in West Africa through vocational courses, to help them develop a healthy mental balance and create avenues for their future.
Abeni Johnson - Business Development
Abeni Jackson-Johnson was born in Waukegan, Illinois but raised all over the United States as her mother was an officer in the US Navy. She resided in Flint, Michigan for the majority of her school career. She received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Joint Social Sciences at the University of Michigan and holds a Master’s in International Education and Special Education with certification at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.
She currently works as a part-time special education teacher for the Arlington Public School District in Arlington, Virginia. Previously, she worked at the International Community School of Abidjan (ICSA) in Cote d’Ivoire West Africa for 3 years as a pre-kindergarten lead teacher and served as department head for the Early Childhood Development Department. She was nominated by her colleagues to represent the teachers on the Director’s Counsel at ICSA.
Abeni was the coordinator of Outreach Ministry at International Fellowship of Christians (IFC) and has completed a cohort called Unveiled: Finding Your Voice in Pursuit of His. She has obtained a certificate in Teaching Dyslexia and Detecting Child Abuse through the Virginia Department of Education.
Abeni is currently a Board Member for House of Avana and handles Business Development and Corporate Communication for the company in the United States.