An MBA in social entrepreneurship, Jyotika Bhatia is the Founder Trustee of Srujna Charitable Trust. Hailing from Mumbai, she works in the field of education and livelihood.
The Trust, provides skill training, grooms marginalised women for business training and provides market linkage to get employment opportunities. Till date, Srujna has impacted lives of 5000+ marginalised women artisans in a span of 5 years. However, she is not stopping here. She has big plans for the future too.
Let’s hear her out.
Jyotika, what inspired you to start-up Srujna Charitable Trust? What it’s essentially working for?
Srujna is working for empowering women and making them independent, confident and contributing members of the society. I have an academic and professional background in vocational training and education. During my MBA days, I had developed a business plan to implement skill training for underprivileged women. As part of my course, I was interning with rescued victims of human trafficking. The group used to tell me that all their basic needs of food, clothing, shelter are being taken care of by the home, even their education. But once they reach 18 years they would have to move out of the shelter homes and not have any money/skills to fall back on. Hence, they would have no choice but to go back to the same trade they were rescued from. This moved me and I, along with my partner Vaishali Shah, decided to start a project for them, which has now turned into a fully functioning organisation.
How and when was your love for education and livelihood born?
My love for education was born when I was teaching MBA in social entrepreneurship and vocational education to junior college students at SNDT Women’s University. Passion for providing sustainable livelihood was because of my and pilot project of skill training undertaken with rescued victims of human trafficking.
Endurance, being meticulous and ability to take risk are important for an entrepreneur to survive and succeed.
What makes Srujna so special?
Srujna works with multiple organisations (NGOs and corporates, self-help groups and artisans) to bring them on one platform, working together for a single mission of providing livelihood opportunities for marginalised women.
What is the major gap you’ve noticed in our society as a lecturer and a founder of a social organisation? And, what are your ways to overcome those?
A major gap in our society is in the mindset that women can earn up to certain limits, whereas, through our programs, we have seen that women once trained go out and train other women in her society, uses her revenue for her children’s education and health.
What got you interested in educating youngsters?
Working with young girls, we realised the potential these girls have to start, manage and grow into micro businesses. These businesses not only provide livelihood to them, but also help employ other women in the community.
How did you manage to fund for the base operations initially?
The pilot project was funded through our savings and after a few months we were supported by UnLtd India fellowship. UnLtd funds and mentors social entrepreneurs. As two members of our team were still in their MBA courses, our team participated in a lot of business plan competitions.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a Social Entrepreneur?
Raising funds for the cause and human resource constraints. Raising funds is difficult till one establishes credibility. Secondly, due to the companies act mandating CSR, the small size NGOs which do not have all certificates or audited accounts in place have difficulty raising money from corporates. Due to a shortage of funds, hiring talent becomes a challenge.
Could you briefly tell us about your current projects and Srujna’s future plans?
Till date, Srujna has reached out to 5000+ women artisans across 8 cities in India. Currently, it is providing skill training, business training and market linkage to the marginalised women. Our goal is to provide training to 700 marginalised women this year and generate 20 Lakh revenue for them for our existing 14 groups. By 2020 we want to impact the lives of 10,000 marginalised women.
Women empowerment has become a vague term, people want to support the cause, but are unable to do it due to lack of clarity on what to do. We’re giving those people to do so through our platform.
In today’s scenario, marketing has a great role to play in any field. How do you market your venture?
We market our venture through social media campaigns, word of mouth and via exhibitions, we host these events in corporate companies.
Some healthy social tips to the parents…
With ample opportunities and support available to the children these days, parents should give freedom to their children to experiment and do what they love and are passionate about. Not sticking to the traditional fields of science, commerce, arts or engineering, parents should leave the choice to the children to build their lives.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
The young entrepreneur should take risks and implement their ideas. There are lots of government, non-governmental, universities which provide incubation support to budding entrepreneurs. They can surely benefit and grow in such environment.
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