As part of our endeavour to identify and share some of the unique and compelling stories from India and around the world, we invited Dr Ila Sharma for an interview with us to understand more about her inspiring entrepreneurial journey so far. She is a Leader, Mentor, Change Maker, Activist and Founder Chairperson of Ayudhi Care Foundation. Let’s learn more about her inspiring journey, her background and her advice for our growing community!
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Dr Ila:
Talk us through your background and your journey as a women entrepreneur, please;
Born in Jodhpur on 1978, October 31, I pursued her elementary education from Dausa. I piloted my learning years with ardor for information and advancement that drove me to participate in various co-curricular activities, receiving numerous felicitations. Meantime, in the learning years, I witnessed an academic mate dropping out due to poor parental and financial conditions. The event bridged my thoughts to empathy.
After pursuing senior high school from Navyodaya, I obtained a master’s degree in Sociology from Jai Narayan Vyas University. Yet the stepping years: Childhood, could not be anymore relentless. With my father’s sudden demise in the earlier days, my mother’s shoulders were loaded with infinite responsibilities. Eventually, she stood as the woman of valour one could ever be: a persona that inspired me.
Ever since graduation, the central idea has been about protecting and promoting the fundamental rights of girls and underprivileged children in the horizon. In the light of preserving national heritage, I have been an active initiator and donor to prevent the exploitation of historical monuments.”
Although, The initial stage required a lot of courage. The determination remains chorded with the motive.
Being a woman of principles with total deference to human values, I dedicatedly uphold principles and seek to pass them on to my progeny. As farther the essence of social cause roots in my family, it extends to welfare organizations too.
I have been the president of Lioness Club, Paota, aiming to expand the stage for volunteers struggling for the causes to every corner. Which ultimately presented me as an ideal model for the Best Teacher position by the club.
What I consider is leading with feminist principles includes building an environment where everyone’s input is heard and recognized.
Secondly, the presence of urge to mentoring and supporting people to cultivate and embrace their leadership qualities, whereas having zero tolerance for harassment or abuse of any kind.
Finally, in the year 2009, the vision, plans, and ideas turned out alive with the foundation of Ayudhi Care becoming the hope of the hopeless.”
What attracts you towards social entrepreneurship instead of a corporate career?
I chose social entrepreneurship because I always wanted to make an impact. I have always been intrigued by the success stories of all great leaders and entrepreneurs.
I am a purpose-drive social entrepreneur who wants to see a better world particularly for those who don’t have a level-playing field.”
Entrepreneurship gives me a playground of opportunities and a free space to work and to bring my thoughts to life which seems to be difficult in a corporate career.
‘AYUDHI CARE FOUNDATION’ is such a unique name; talk us through more about it, please. Our audience would also love to know what kind of problem you are solving?
So, Ayudhi means With the trident of power, it refers to growth-oriented, strong, visionary hence we decided it is the perfect name for our foundation. It clearly defines our vision about how we want to work and who we are. At Ayudhi we tend to work on all sorts of social causes which will make the world a better place to live in.
But currently, we are working on empowering women by providing them employment in various sectors, other than this we are working towards educating the underprivileged such as refugees residing in parts of jodhpur and around it.”
We recently discovered that even though they have a makeshift school made for them, there are no teachers or even proper facilities to educate them. So we took the responsibility of making them ready for their future by providing them with education. We are also working on reducing the carbon footprint and how we can reduce it.
During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?
As the business is born during COVID, each measure is taken to ensure that the model aligns with the challenges of the pandemic.
~ Our business model consists of a lean team which is not at all resource-heavy and has minimal overheads.
~ Since it’s a foundation it was the best time for us to work and we got a lot of projects as there were a lot of people in need and we were grateful that we could be a part of it.
How do you manage to keep going despite the challenges? What drives you?
Empowering and challenging the myths, stereotypes about wellness journey to have self-awareness and courage to do their own therapy to live a life of respect, dignity and treat others with the same ethical principles is my drive to work in this field.
The fact that I can help someone when they are in need is what drives me the most, I understand my privilege and that I am able to use it in a way which is benefiting others too makes me want to wake up every day and go to work.
Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?
After being raised by a single mother, my mother Rekha Upadhayay has been my biggest source of motivation. She was the only earning member and we were four children out of which three of us were girls. In the 80s the struggles and the challenges she used to face were something we can’t even imagine.
The fact that she never gave up and the way she never let us down in anything at all is just commendable. Seeing her all these years, I knew she was the only inspiration I had. She is all my strength and looking at her every day keeps me motivated.”
What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?
I believe it’s the path of learning that one should follow to be successful. They should just hustle in their younger years and especially their 20s, that is the time where they have ample opportunities and can try their hands at various things. Experiences and networking are what will lead them to success, so they should focus on building connections.
Apart from this one should never stop learning because the day you stop learning is the day your growth also stops with it. These are a few things that will help them in future towards a successful career.