She left a secured job and comfortable lifestyle in Bengaluru in search of a meaningful life. To “breakaway from the vicious cycle of earning and spending” Pratibha Krishnaiah, a computer engineer, applied to the 13-month Youth for India fellowship programme. Thus, began her journey in the small hamlet of Khetikhan in Uttarakhand. She started her organisation, Himalayan Blooms, to help the village women learn and refine skills like knitting and crocheting and to offer them a livelihood by marketing the handicrafts.
Pratibha’s entrepreneurial dream is purely out of a desire to make a difference in society. “I was looking for work which could have a positive impact on society. This is when I learnt about the Youth for India fellowship and applied for it.” She says.
Himalayan Blooms was not yet a fully realised idea but something that she formed as she tapped into the potential of the women she had to work with. Instead of carving a lofty plan, she decided to hone the existing skills, and when she learned that the women were mostly into knitting woollens, she zeroed down on her goal. Himalayan Blooms would be a one stop support that would build and enhance their skills as well as boost their motivation through financial gain.
But implementing the idea didn’t come easy to Pratibha as she had never really indulged in these activities. To have first-hand knowledge about the art and to develop creative resources like designs, ideas, she took help of Youtube tutorials. Another of her initial challenges was to convince the local women. She launched her project with a handful of participants, but soon her workshops started attracting other women as they realised that what she was offering was empowerment.
She approached different marketing channels to sell the hand-crafted products that included clips, hair bands, socks and scarves. To her surprise, the response was simply great. Her initiative drew the attention of Joginder Kundra, a 70-year-old humanitarian from USA who was keen to fund her venture.
Himalayan Blooms has made a turnover of 7 lakhs in two years and Pratibha is hopeful as she says, “My ultimate aim is to empower these women and make them confident and strong enough to run their own ventures. Until then I’m going to stay put in this amazing place.”
Image credit: theweekendleader.com