Hekani Jakhalu

Hekani Jakhalu Kense (born after 1976) is an Indian lawyer and social entrepreneur. She set up the non-governmental organization YouthNet Nagaland to help the young people of Nagaland pursue business opportunities. She was recognised with the Nari Shakti Puraskar award in 2018.

Early life

Hekani Jakhalu was born in DimapurNagaland. She was educated at Bishop Cotton Girls’ School in Bengaluru and took a Bachelors degree in political science at Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi. She then studied for a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Delhi and took a Master of Laws at the University of San Francisco.


After working in the United States, Jakhalu returned to Delhi and began a career as a lawyer. She was made a partner in the firm but having seen firsthand the number of young people from Nagaland migrating to Delhi, she decided in 2006 to move to Kohima (the capital of Nagaland) in order to set up a non-governmental organization (NGO) called YouthNet which aims to create more opportunities for the youth of Nagaland. As of 2018, YouthNet had 30 employees and claims to have helped 23,500 people. It aims to help entrepreneurs pursue their ideas and set up a “Made in Nagaland” centre in Kohima which sells their artisan goods. After running for two years, the “Made in Nagaland” centre opened an e-commerce platform in 2020.

In recognition of her work, Jakhalu received the Nari Shakti Puraskar award in 2018, which is India’s highest civilian award given only to women. She was the only person from the northeast of India to be honoured that year.