Someone wisely said, “Travel far enough, and you’ll eventually find yourself.”
This is what happened with Vaishali, a textile designer, when she decided to quit her unsatisfying job and travel.
In 2007, she backpacked across India (before it was a trend), and met with “the real, genuine people of the country.” She volunteered with a rural NGO in Himachal Pradesh for almost a year, where she got to understand the challenges faced by them first-hand.
It was here a seed was born. She wanted to help underprivileged women break the vicious cycle of poverty, domestic violence, and illiteracy. She finished her MBA in Social Entrepreneurship, where she heard of Jagriti Yatra.
“I was very inspired because impacting lives was what I’d always wanted to know more about. I had no direction, but I had hope. At Jagriti, I interacted with a lot of peers, and met with role-models. It was an eye-opener, knowing that you could make this much impact, especially without being a societal outcast, which was very unheard of, back in 2009, in the kind of community I hail from. It gave me friendships and memories that have transcended time and distance. They’re always around…they were the first guests on my wedding list.”
2010: After coming back from Jagriti, Srujna was born.
It is a not-for-profit that aims at assisting underprivileged women through skill-training, business training, and linking them to markets and opportunities. Since 2010, it has generated jobs worth INR 1.6 Million for more than 5000 underprivileged women.
“I know it seems like we are helping them but the truth is, they are the ones changing our lives.”
While starting Srujna in Maharashtra, she met women who knew how to sew, knit, and embroider, but did not possess the business skills to make it a viable, sustainable source of income. Her professional knowledge helped them in production, and reach a wider audience. Her vision through Srujna is to create a world where every woman has the resources and the ability to live a meaningful life.
“They get confidence from this. They derive their identity from this. Surprisingly, money is a secondary concern for them. I knew right there and then that this is what I want to do the rest of my life. Even now when I think about what we do, the impact we are making, the point of it…it all boils down to their stories in the end.”