April 20, 2020 Print

Three think tank professionals will pitch exciting new projects to a panel of judges at Atlas Network’s 2020 Think Tank Shark Tank-Asia competition, which will be held during Asia Liberty Forum Online. The battle for funding, which features up-and-coming think tank leaders from New Zealand, India, and Nepal, will showcase ideas to create opportunities for think tank success, fight fiscal instability, and protect the rights of people living in poverty. The competition is sponsored by the Smith Family Foundation, and the winner will receive $10,000 in seed funding.

The finalists are Casey Russell (New Zealand Taxpayers Union), Akash Shrestha (Samriddhi Foundation), and Prashant Narang (Centre for Civil Society).

Our panel of judges includes Simon Paterno (Foundation for Economic Freedom, Philippines), Wolfgang Heinze (Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Philippines), and Casey Pifer (Atlas Network, United States).

Project Overviews


Casey Russell, Engagement Coordinator, New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union    

Project: Ditch the Double Dip

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union (NZTU) is seeking funding for the “Ditch the Double Dip” campaign. The universal pension is currently viewed by New Zealanders as their fair share from the government after a lifetime of paying taxes, but stands as the biggest threat to taxpayers in the long term. Through petitions and an online campaign, NZTU plans to challenge the universality of the pension, which is essential for long-term economic prosperity in New Zealand.

Casey Russell is the Engagement Coordinator at the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, where she contributes to fundraising and campaign teams, organizes events and manages incoming correspondence. She is in her final year of study towards a Bachelor of Commerce in Public Policy at Victoria University of Wellington. She is passionate about exposing government waste and ensuring a transparent and accountable government.


Watch Casey's pitch in the 2020 Asia Think Tank Shark Tank.

Prashant Narang, Associate Director Research, Centre for Civil Society 

Project: Lawyers for Liberty

The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) is seeking funding for its “Lawyers for Liberty” program. CCS plans to set up a legal-aid center that will build on previous policy work to protect street vendors’ rights in the city of New Delhi. As part of this project, CCS plans to recruit and train a team of lawyers that will take up legal cases for the street vendors that cannot afford lawyers to represent themselves to fight illegal fines. To empower street vendors, “Lawyers for Liberty” will also run a digital campaign including podcasts and visuals to educate these vendors about their legal rights.

Prashant Narang is the Associate Director of Research, Centre for Civil Society. His most significant contributions at Centre for Civil Society include Ease of Doing Business reforms recommendations and the Street Vendor Compliance Index. He also secured a favorable judgment from the Supreme Court of India leading to the implementation of the Street Vendor law in Rajasthan. Apart from the Right to Education Act and the Street Vendors Act, his current interest areas are the rule of law and the constitutional right to carry on business and trade in India.


Watch Prashant's pitch in the 2020 Asia Think Tank Shark Tank.

Akash Shrestha, Research Manager, Samriddhi Foundation

Project: Incubating Freedom in Nepal

Samriddhi Foundation is seeking funding for its “Incubating Freedom in Nepal” project. Through this project, Samriddhi aspires to incubate seven like-minded think tanks in Nepal to inform and influence policies at the state level, creating an environment of policy competition that could yield greater opportunities for all in the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. 

Akash Shrestha is Research Manager at Samriddhi Foundation. He also engages with politicians, policymakers, bureaucrats, and research experts as part of Samriddhi’s advocacy efforts. He contributes to building networks with key stakeholders and identifying new research areas and promotes ideas of liberty through various media platforms.


Watch Akash's pitch in the 2020 Asia Think Tank Shark Tank.