Sonam Velani

Sonam Velani

Founder, Streetlife Ventures

I am passionate about sustainable cities and the infrastructure and technology that drives them forward. From New York to Barcelona to Mumbai, I’ve collaborated with businesses and governments across the globe to design, finance, and implement multi-billion dollar investments in climate-smart infrastructure, affordable housing, and economic development. Having worked at Goldman Sachs, The World Bank, the New York City Mayor’s Office, and Zipline, I’m skilled at building relationships with diverse stakeholders, structuring complex financial transactions, operating large-scale projects, and leading public-private partnerships. I am now launching Streetlife Ventures, a venture fund that invests at the intersection of cities and climate.

My interest in urban development is deeply rooted in my lived experience. I was born in Mumbai, India and moved to Chicago, USA as a young child. An undocumented immigrant for over two decades, I understand first-hand the complicated ways that inadequate housing, limited transportation options, and environmental risks create structural barriers to upward mobility.

The first in my family to go to college, I’ve made it my mission to tackle these inequities head on. I attended Harvard University on a full scholarship and received a BA in Government, Economics, and Visual & Environmental Studies. Whether investing in cutting-edge tools to achieve carbon neutrality in NYC, financing the largest public transit agency in the US, delivering life-saving medicines via drone in Africa, or creating the first open-source database of urban infrastructure in Asia, I am keen to leverage technology to better align the public sector with the needs of the people it serves.

I’m a strong believer in paying it forward and love being active in my community. I’ve received the National President’s Volunteer Service Award, launched the NY Climate Tech community to foster collaboration across climate tech, policy, and justice groups, advise the Aga Khan Development Network on economic empowerment in the Ismaili Muslim community, serve on the Women’s Impact Alliance board, and volunteer with the Girl Scouts. I also founded MPower, a mentorship program for DREAMers that helps immigrant and first-gen students attend top-tier colleges.

In my free time I enjoy Citibiking, museum hopping, watching reruns of the West Wing, and getting lost in new cities and new conversations – 60 countries, thousands of people, and still counting on both fronts!

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