Geeta Mehta

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Geeta Mehta

Geeta Mehta is an Indian-American social entrepreneur, urban designer, and architect. She is the co-founder of Asia Initiatives[1] and URBZ,[2] and an adjunct professor[3] of architecture and urban design at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation at Columbia University in New York. She is also a partner in the design firm of Braden and Mehta.[4] She has been appointed by the Mayor of New York City to serve on the Waterfront Management Advisory Board.[5]

Geeta earned her bachelor's degree in Architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, a master' s degree in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University, and a doctorate in Urban Engineering from the University of Tokyo.

Asia Initiatives[edit]
Asia Initiatives: Empowering Women by Social Capital

Inspired by Professor M.S. Swaminathan, a world renowned scientist and humanist, Geeta and Krishen Mehta co-founded Asia Initiatives[6] in 1999 in Tokyo. Since 2010 it has been registered as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization in New York.[citation needed] It has funded microcredit banks and sent computers to Village Information Center projects in South India with MS Swaminathan Research Foundation. Asia Initiatives has also supported projects in education and healthcare in underserved areas with non-profit organizations like the Self-Employed Women's Association in Delhi and Ahmedabad, the Center for Development in Ahmedabad, Save Indian Farmers and Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan in Maharashtra, the Shohratgarh Environmental Society in UP, Friends of the Doon Society in Dehradoon, Ashta No Kai[7] in Pune, Arpana Trust[8] in Delhi, Women Lead[9] in Nepal, Saving Mothers in Bangladesh, and Philippine Christian Foundation[10] in Manila.

Asia Initiatives has also provided consulting services for SoCCs to WomenStrong International for projects in Kumasi (Ghana), Kisumu (Kenya) and Washington DC.

The M.S. Swaminathan Award was presented at the Asia Initiatives Gala to the noted economist Jeffrey Sachs (2014), Indra Nooyi for steering PepsiCo towards Performance with Purpose (2015) and Kerry Kennedy for her work on human rights (2016).

In honor of The 8th Secretary General of the United Nations, Asia Initiatives has instituted the Ban Ki-moon Award for Women’s Empowerment. The award was presented by SG Ban at the Asia Initiatives 2017 Gala to Gloria Steinem, Yue Sai Kan and Eva Haller[11] and it was presented to Chelsea Clinton and Susan Blaustein at the 2018 Gala.

SoCCs (Social Capital Credits)[edit]

Learning from projects supported by Asia Initiatives,[12] Geeta Mehta developed the concept of Social Capital Credits (SoCCs), a community currency for social good. AI establishes systems for communities and individuals to earn SoCCs when they accomplish actions for the common good. These SoCCs are then redeemable for services or items such as healthcare, education, and skill empowerment, that are needed to help communities climb out of poverty. iSoCCs are SoCCs points earned by individuals through one's performance of social goods, in which they can redeem for necessary goods and services. CommSoCCs are SoCCs points that are attributed to the community as a whole. Every five iSoCCs are automatically converted to one CommSoCCs. The purpose of CommSoCCs is to help bring communities together by working on joint projects.

The SoCCs team at Asia Initiatives works with communities extensively to customize SoCCs menus to their specific needs and capabilities. SoCCs Earning Menus include items such as getting children vaccinated, sending children (especially daughters) to high school, waste management, providing childcare or senior care, planting trees, and paving streets. iSoCCs Redemption Menus include items such as school fees, skill training classes, home repairs and telephone talk time. CommSoCCs can then be used for common projects such as a micro-sewage system, improvements to streets or public spaces, or child-care centers. A local SoCC Manager is trained to work with the community. Asia Initiatives also has an online platform,,[13] for trading SoCCs and capturing necessary data. SoCCs are currently being used in pilot sites in Costa Rica, Ghana, Kenya, India, and United States. with local partners that range from corporations to municipal governments. Geeta Mehta has been featured in articles in Forbes[14] and Huffington Post[15] which describe the creation and use of SoCCs in greater detail.

Asia Initiatives was among the six winners of the Amravati Happy Cities competition in April 2018, and has signed an MoU with the government of Andhra Pradesh to implement SoCCs in this new city that is being designed by Sir Norman Foster and Hafeez Contractor.

Asia Initiatives is also partnering with SaveLIFE Foundation on implementing SoCCs on the Mumbai Pune Expressway to reduce the number of accidents and to incentivize good driving.


With urban planner Matias Echanove and urban anthropologist Rahul Srivastava, Geeta is the co-founding partner of URBZ: User Generated Cities, a think/action tank that focuses on participatory urban planning and design systems. It has conducted research and held workshops for urban-visioning for communities in India, Japan, Turkey and Brazil. The work of URBZ was included in the exhibition “Uneven Growth” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from November 2014~May 2015. URBZ was also named one of the 100 most influential names in architecture in the world by the magazine Il Giornale dell'Architettura[16]

Braden and Mehta[edit]

Founded in Tokyo with Jill Braden, Braden and Mehta[17] is a design practice located in Honolulu and New York that has designed several residential and commercial projects in Japan and the US.


Geeta Mehta is featured in "Citizen Jane: Battle for the City," a film about Jane Jacobs directed by Matt Tyrnauer.

In addition, Geeta has delivered keynote speeches on social capital, sustainable and equitable urbanism, and community-based change at international forums in Australia, Austria, Brazil, India, Japan, UAE and the USA. Of note are speeches at the Public Ideas Form in Perth, Australia and at the Post City event at ARS Electronica in Linz, Austria and she has served as a panelist at WomenDeliver in Copenhagen, Denmark and the Women's Summit in Sharjah organized by UN Women.[1]


Geeta Mehta is author/co-author of the following books

  • 2016: CITY CONNECT: REGENERATION, SUSTAINABILITY AND EQUITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY, Arch-media Inc. Co-editor with George Kunihiro.
  • 2011: NEW JAPAN ARCHITECTURE. Tuttle Publishing Japan, Co-author with Deanna MacDonald.
  • 2008: JAPAN GARDENS. Tuttle Publishing, Japan. Co-author with Kimie Tada.
  • 2008: JAPAN LIVING. Tuttle Publishing, Japan. Co-author with Marcia Iwatate.
  • 2005 : JAPAN HOUSES. Tuttle Publishing, Japan. Co-author with Marcia Iwatate.
  • 2004: JAPAN STYLE. Tuttle Publishing, Japan. Co-author with Kimie Tada.

Awards, Board Positions, Design Juries and Doctoral Thesis Guidance[edit]

Geeta was honored as one of the 21 Leaders of the 21st Century (2015) by Women’s e-news[18]

She currently serves on the board of Women Strong International, The Center for the Living City, and Friends of the University Tokyo Advisory Committee. In the past she has also served on the Advisory Board of the Millennium Cities Initiative of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and People Building Better Cities.

Geeta has served as a Jury member for the Holcim Awards (2014), Gensler Design Excellence Awards (2015), Dencity Design Competition (2016), and DWELL Competition (2018)

She has also served as a PhD thesis guide to students in Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, KU Leuven University in Brussels, and ETH Zurich.


  1. ^ "Asia Initiatives". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  2. ^ "Geeta Mehta | URBZ". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Braden & Mehta Design". Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  5. ^ "Spring 2018 Urban Design Semester Update - Columbia GSAPP". Columbia GSAPP. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  6. ^ "Asia Initiatives". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  7. ^ "Ashta No Kai". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  8. ^ "Arpana Home". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  9. ^ "Women LEAD Nepal". Women LEAD Nepal. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  10. ^ "PCF - Purple Community Fund". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  11. ^ "Empower Women - 8th UN Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Celebrates Leaders of the Women's Movement". EmpowerWomen. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  12. ^ "Asia Initiatives". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  13. ^ "SoCCs". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  14. ^ Restauri, Denise. "What's Better Than Money? One Woman's Powerful Answer To That Question." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 Sept. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <>.
  15. ^ Blaustein, Susan M. (2016-04-28). "An Ingenious Tool for Empowering Women and Girls: Social Capital Credits". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  16. ^ "100 (quelli Che Contano 2011) | Esprit Architettura Architetti Associati." Esprit Architettura Architetti Associati. N.p., 6 Mar. 2014. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <>.
  17. ^ "Braden & Mehta Design". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  18. ^ "21 Leaders 2015: Seven Who Transform Cultures." Women's ENews. Institute for Nonprofit News, 03 Jan. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <>.