Tej Kohli has committed to spending a portion of his accumulated wealth on his mission to combat the needless and pervasive blindness that inhibits the social and economic development of the world’s poorest communities. Under the leadership of Tej Kohli the Tej Kohli Foundation has engaged in grassroots projects to rebuild people and communities around the world since 2005.
The ‘Rebuilding You’ philosophy of the Tej Kohli Foundation reflects the well-documented desire of Tej Kohli to use science and technology to rebuild people and communities through grassroots interventions. The story of the Tej Kohli’s own journey to rebuild himself is best captured by blog posts ‘A Technologist Who Is Investing In Human Triumph’ and also ’London Philanthropist Aims To Cure Poverty-Related Blindness Worldwide‘.
Tej Kohli also regularly shares his thoughts within a series of #TejTalks blogs and social media posts. On Medium.com and on the World Economic Forum, Tej Kohli regularly blogs about blindness, inequality, poverty and global health. Tej Kohli also blogs on Ghost, CityAM, the and The Motley Fool about subjects including real estate, cryptocurrency, deep tech and stock market investing.
The Business Life Of Tej Kohli
The Tej Kohli Foundation and the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation are entirely funded by Tej Kohli and the Kohli family. The source of this funding originates from the trade sales of a series of companies that Tej Kohli founded between 1999 and 2006. This conglomeration of companies such as Estacion Tramar grew quickly by specialising in online payment gateways and fraud protection for clients operating in high-risk sectors. The companies employed armies of software developers in South America and India by the time that Tej Kohli exited through a series of trade sales in 2006.
In 2006 the Kohli family moved to the United Kingdom where Tej Kohli began investing the liquidity from these trade sales into deep tech ventures, with a focus on AI and robotics. He also became Europe’s biggest individual investor in eSports and continued to invest and grow his interests in B2B software and e-commerce. Since 2006 Tej Kohli also began building his Zibel Real Estate portfolio with a mission to attain a $1 billion valuation by 2026. Today the Zibel porfolio provides a reliable income stream to fund the activities of the Tej Kohli Foundation and the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation.
The Family Life Of Tej Kohli
Beyond his commercial and not-for-profit activities Tej Kohl is a hyper-car collector, an aviator and a tennis fanatic. He is is also prolific devotee of sartorial English style and boasts a wardrobe of hundreds of suits and shoes, as well as one of the world’s finest collections of cufflinks.
Tej Kohli is most importantly a father to two teenagers and has talked at length in his #TejTalks blog about playing an active daily role in their lives. Tej Kohli is also a wine collector and a connoisseur of fine dining, though Indian-style home cooking remains his favourite food.
The Tej Kohli Mission To Combat Blindness
According to the World Health Organisation 90% of the people who have blindness or severe visual impairment live in the poorest countries in the world. Blindness and poverty are a cause and an effect of one another. This creates a descending cycle of inequality and poverty which impedes the social and economic development of entire communities.
Tej Kohli funded his first donor cornea implants at Niramaya Hospital in India in 2010. He was present when a 50-year-old patient who had been blind for decades was able to see his wife and grown-up children for the first time. This experience led Tej to decide that combating needless blindness in the world’s poorest communities would become his calling.
Tej Kohli initially funded thousands of corneal transplants at Niramaya Hospital. Then in 2015 he launched the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute at the LV Prasad Eye Institute, a World Health Organization collaborating centre located in India. By 2019 the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute welcomed more than 223,404 outpatients and completed 43,255 surgical procedures.
In early 2021 Tej Kohli partnered with ‘God of Sight’ Dr Sanduk Ruit to launch the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation with a mission to screen 1,000,000 and to cure 300,000 to 500,000 of blindness. The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation conducts large-scale microsurgical outreach camps to cure cataracts in the world’s hard-to-reach and underserved communities. It also operates programmes focused on curing children of blindness due to congenital cataracts.
The Tej Kohli Mission To Solve Blindness
Tej Kohli is also committed to developing new medical and scientific innovations that can lead to more accessible and affordable treatments and cures for blindness that are also scalable for ‘the masses’. His Tej Kohli Applied Research team is developing a liquid biosynthetic for the treatment of corneal scarring, whilst the Tej Kohli Cornea Program at Massachuetts Eye And Ear in Boston is accelerating collaborative research to achieve new breakthroughs in the fight against blindness.
The Tej Kohli ‘Applied Research’ program is a longstanding scientific collaboration between researchers in Montreal Canada, and specialists at Moorfields Eye Hospital in the UK. In 2020 the ‘Applied Research’ program moved one step closer in its mission to create a universal cure for corneal blindness through the regeneration of corneal tissue.
In 2019 after being approached by Harvard Medical School to support its Department of Ophthalmology to accelerate innovative and collaborative research to achieve unprecedented new breakthroughs in corneal disease in, Tej Kohli also funded the Tej Kohli Cornea Program at Massachusetts Eye And Ear in Boston with an initial donation of $2m.
Tej Kohli Projects To Alleviate Poverty
Long before Tej Kohli adopted the fight against needless blindness as his main calling, he made his first endeavours as a philanthropist by seeking to alleviate poverty within communities where poverty and inequality were stifling young people’s access to self-improvement and opportunity.
Tej’s first philanthropic ‘hunger’ project was in Costa Rica where he provided long-term financial and practical support for disabled children. Then in 2005 he launched a series of free ‘FundaKohli’ canteens in Costa Rica to feed children for free. FundaKohli has since fed thousands of young people and continues to operate today to ensure that children from struggling families have access to the vital nutrition and sustenance that they need to flourish.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world in 2020, Tej Kohli pumped emergency funding and resources into grassroots community movements which sought to prevent young families from going hungry. Tej Kohli initiated projects in the UK in conjunction with The Salvation Army, Southall Community Alliance and Guru Maneyp Granth Gurdwara. This funding supported thousands of UK families throughout the lockdowns of the pandemic.
Tej Kohli’s Global Health Advocacy
A key component of the Tej Kohli approach to philanthropy is the understanding that major global health challenges can only be solved through multidisciplinary collaboration between hundreds of organisations including NGO’s and governments. In 2020 Tej Kohli joined fellow entrepreneurs and philanthropic foundations by donating $100,000 toward a COVID-19 Vaccine Development Fund at Massachusetts Eye And Ear, a Harvard-affiliated hospital in Boston, USA.
Ad well as participating in collective efforts to bring about improvements in the sphere of global health, Tej Kohli has also sought to advocate for change by instigating ad-hoc initiatives and innovations. One example is a 2019/2020 program in which Tej Kohli sought to highlight the plight of children in India who are living with Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), a rare genetic condition that makes the sun’s rays lethal and which carries a heavy social stigma.
Working with internationally renowned photographer Simon Townsley and the Global Health section of The Telegraph, the Tej Kohli Foundation brought the realities of life of Indian children with XP visibly to the fore in a major photographic study and news feature. The most impactful element of this initiative was the use of ‘social impact entertainment’: Tej Kohli sponsored the production of an independent documentary short about XP, which premiered at the 2020 Manchester International Film Festival and then toured many film festivals worldwide to help raise awareness.
Tej Kohli’s Embrace Of Technological Solutions
Tej Kohli is a strong believer in the power of technology to improve human life, and in late 2019 he was proud to launch the ‘Future Bionics’ program in the United Kingdom. The #FutureBionics program funds the purchase and fitting of 3D-printed bionic ‘Hero Arms’ for young people with limb difference; and highlights how technology can substantially improve the lives and confidence of younger people who are living with disabilities.
The 3D-printed ‘Hero Arm’ can be controlled with the electrical signals generated by a user’s muscles and has a superior multi-grip functionality that enables users to perform many more everyday activities compared to traditional prosthetics. The enhanced ability of the users to be able to personalise their Open Bionics Hero Arm is also a huge boost to their mental wellbeing and to perceived social acceptance, hopefully improving their prospects in life.
The Tej Kohli #FutureBionics program has also includes social impact entertainment in the form of a YouTube mini-series that follows the story of up-and-coming musical theatre actress Gracie McGonigal as she became ‘bionic’ and pursues her career in the arts. This series is helping to inspire limb-different younger people around the world:
Tej Kohli The Impact Investor
Tej Kohli is an advocate of venture philanthropy as a vehicle for boosting global development and prosperity. He believes that artificial intelligence is already transforming developing countries and that whilst the United Nations ‘AI for Good’ campaign is fostering dialogue amongst policy makers on the highly beneficial use of technology for humanitarian work, it is technology investors who can and should prove its value.
Since 2018 Tej Kohli has made two substantial investments of over $100m into Rewired, a Switzerland-based venture studio that pursues a ‘double bottom line’ of commercial profit and humanitarian impact. Rewired is investing in ventures including a tech solution to increase the proportion of plastics that are viable for recycling worldwide; a technology for the early detection of cancer using olfactory sensors, AI-powered drones that can optimise renewable energy sites and also the development of affordable bionics.
Tej Kohli The Biotech Investor
Tej Kohli believes that joining the technological frontiers of AI and biotech can solve some of the world’s greatest public health challenges and substantially improve human life. Biotechnology is experiencing exponential technological progression and improving by a factor of ten every year in terms cost-benefit.
Tej Kohli is the owner of Detraxi, a US-based biotech company that plans to save millions of lives worldwide by developing its proprietary solution for a range of global health challenges. Detraxi is working with the worlds most talented and respected scientists across fluid replacement, diagnostics, transplantation and regenerative medicine. In 2020 the Detraxi biotechnology underwent pre-clinical trials at Johns Hopkins University.