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Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans

- John Lennon

Abhilash Puljal is a trained social scientist, a trade strategy and private sector development specialist. He has over two decades of experience advising public and private sectors, multilaterals and industry associations in conceptualising and implementing sustainable ventures, developing business strategies, interpreting, and advising on policy and regulatory matters across agriculture, renewable energy, healthcare, ICT and education verticals. He is passionate about developmental issues affecting the Global South and is working actively on South-South and Trilateral development Cooperation by connecting sustainable technologies and building efficient capacities in middle and low-income economies of Africa and Asia. 

He is a committed self-starter with strong analytical skills known to network with an ability to maintain long and trusting relationships. Abhilash also is an effective verbal and written communicator with an ability to articulate information in a structured and insightful manner. He has a proven ability to engage decision-makers and empower teams to lead analysis and recommendations. Also, he has a deep understanding and sensitivity towards political and cultural dimensions of environments especially in complex locations and situations. Moreover, he enjoys building and leading high performing teams to deliver innovative and result oriented solutions to achieve realistic goals. Furthermore, he is also known among his peers to be experienced in mentoring and coaching junior colleagues in their professional development and career progression.

Abhilash is currently advising the World Bank as a Trade Facilitation Strategy Advisor and the UN World Food Programme as a South-South Cooperation and Triangular Development Cooperation Expert, both in New Delhi. Until recently, he conducted training exercises, through his firm, for the Afreximbank, Cairo on Export Trading Companies (ETC) across countries in Africa and the Caribbean. Moreover, his practice has been contracted by the Government of Zambia, funded by the African Development bank, to advise on the Lobito Corridor Trade Facilitation Project. Furthermore, he is also, individually and through his firm is advising private enterprises on their cross-border investment strategies especially into countries in Sub Saharan Africa, Central Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia. 

Earlier, he founded Avignam Advisors, a boutique private sector advisory that researched, conceptualised and implemented sustainable projects for clients in Asia, Africa and India. He has conceptualised initiatives from the “ground-up” with “out-of-the-box” ideas and assessing the potential of such ideas using strategic and evidence-based methods. Private sector opportunities are accessed and ideated not in isolation, but after conducting a macro level study of the value chain of a certain sector and depending on the outcomes, business potential is assessed, and businesses are derived from such studies. 


Prior to Avignam he served as an Alternate Director on the board of Bharat Renewable Energy Limited, Lucknow, India; Senior Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India in the Tax and Regulatory Practice working on various projects especially on policy and regulatory matters. He was earlier employed as Asst. Vice-President at SKIL Infrastructure Limited, Mumbai, India; University of Sydney as a Research Assistant in Sydney, Australia and Sathguru Management Consultants Pvt Ltd as Associate Consultant in Hyderabad, India. He also previously volunteered as a Consultant at the Overseas Development Institute in London, UK and as a Lecturer at the Australian Aid for Cambodia Fund in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia. 


Besides, Abhilash has also established a not-for-profit charitable foundation – The Purple Patch Trust (, an animal sanctuary that cares for abused and abandoned small animals in the Delhi NCR area. The vision of the Trust is to conserve wildlife by removing exotic and endangered animals from the pet trade and introduce them back to the wild. The shelter has rescued and provides for over 120 animals. Also, as a volunteer, he has been serving on the Executive Committee of the London School of Economics Alumni Association (LSEAA), London, UK since 2015 on various committees; currently as the Co-Chair of the Regional Liaison Committee, mandated to provide guidance and peer resource network to all global LSEAA chapters on running their groups and identify potential country group leaders and foster potential membership of new country group leaders. He also is the founder director of the LSE Research & Education Foundation of India another not-for-profit charitable foundation of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), aiming to support research on various topics of interest of the school. Furthermore, he cofounded and serves as the Secretary General of the India Rwanda Friendship Association that aims to further people-to-people relations between India and Rwanda.


He constantly travels to client locations around the world, understand client needs and develop simple solutions to complex problems by ensuring a balanced stakeholder interest. He networks widely across private and public sector organisations and works closely with senior management of large to mid-sized organisations. He also has developed excellent relations with senior regulators in various Governments in Africa and Asia and heads of various diplomatic missions in Africa, Asia and Europe.


He has a multidisciplinary educational background with two postgraduate degrees in Development Management and International Business from the London School of Economics and Political Science, London, and the University of Sydney, Sydney respectively. His undergraduate degree is in Management with a minor in Politics from DePaul University, Chicago. He also read briefly as an exchange student at the Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics, Moscow. Furthermore, he completed a course on Markets System Development approach by The Springfield Centre, United Kingdom.

Here are a few select assignments conceptualised, researched, and implemented:


  • Trade Facilitation Strategy Advisor for the World Bank

  • Conducting a needs-based assessment for countries in Asia and Africa in the millet value-chain for the United Nations World Food Programme. 

  • Trade and Biodiversity assessment for the Delegation of the European Union to India.

  • Inbound and Outbound investment strategy for clients from the India, Europe, Africa and other parts of Asia.

  • Harmonising the trade and investment laws and policies of Zambia, DR Congo and Angola and designing a sustainability strategy for programme implementation for the Lobito Corridor Trade facilitation Project. This project is contracted by the Government of Zambia and funded by the African Development Bank.

  • Led the strategy on the “Trilateral development cooperation (EU-India)” for Delegation of the European Union to India through Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Brussels, Belgium 

  • Harmonised and redrafted the National Pulses Strategy for the Government of Ethiopia

  • Advised the Department of Industries, Government of Bihar and designed and drafted the Bihar Khadi Policy, BIADA (Amendment) Act, besides providing other transaction advisory services for implementation of the Single Window Investment System

  • Drafted the National Export Strategy for Sri Lanka. Led the study for two sectors (Spices and Concentrates Strategy and Electronics and Electrical Components Strategy) and one trade support function (Trade Information and Promotion Strategy), which have hence been published

  • Conceptualised the first ever South-South based project for the Department of International Development (DFID) titled “Supporting India’s Trade Preferences for Africa” (SITA) and conducted the initial design study implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva; funded by DFID (now FCDO) in East Africa and India

  • Conceptualised Ask Indus Global – a project conceptualised for a private sector investor and was implemented by Avignam Group as a turnkey assignment for private investors in India, Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania and UAE

  • Led the study on behalf of the National Skills Development Agency, Government of India on the “India and Zanzibar’s skill development partnership: Vocational training institute” to be set up in Vitangoji, Pemba Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania – funded by the Development Partnership Administration, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India

  • Led the study to identify “High Potential Areas for Indian Investments into The Gambia” and conducted the Indo-Gambian Investment Seminar with the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment of the Republic of The Gambia funded by the World Bank through the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project of the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency in New Delhi, India

  • Conceptualised and conducted a pre-feasibility study on “Rwanda Knowledge City: Promoting Rwanda as an educational Hub for East Africa.” The concept was discussed and taken up to the Cabinet level of the Government of Rwanda led by the Governor’s office of the Eastern Province, Rwanda.  

  • Besides these many smaller projects have been conceptualised, researched on and/or implemented for the private and public sector clients in India, Africa, UAE and the United Kingdom 

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