“BE RE­AL­IS­TIC ABOUT YOUR CA­PA­BIL­I­TIES AND LEARN FROM MIS­TAKES”

Shee­tal Me­hta Walsh, 45 Founder, Shanti Life in­dia Foun­da­tion, US

India Today - - COVER STORY - By Harshita Das

LEAV­ING

her job at Mi­crosoft Cor­po­ra­tion in Sil­i­con Val­ley, US, was a tough de­ci­sion that Shee­tal Me­hta Walsh took in 2006. How­ever, she be­lieves it was the best thing she ever did for her­self as it al­lowed her cre­ate a port­fo­lio of roles such as start­ing in­no­va­tive so­cial ven­tures in the UK to help tech com­pa­nies get fund­ing for un­der­de­vel­oped com­mu­ni­ties. “Suc­cess is to be thank­ful to those who help you along your jour­ney and to work with peo­ple you re­spect and ad­mire. It is also about what you leave be­hind and how you im­pact the lives of oth­ers,” says Walsh, who has been taught the im­por­tance of giv­ing back and work­ing within the com­mu­nity to help oth­ers from an early age. That is what Shanti Life In­dia Foun­da­tion aims to de­liver. Founded in 2009 in the UK and reg­is­tered in In­dia in 2013, Shanti Life In­dia Foun­da­tion is a phil­an­thropic ven­ture that pro­vides poor en­trepreneur­s in slums and vil­lages low in­ter­est loans through mi­cro­fi­nance to help them build sus­tain­able busi­nesses. “It oc­curred to me that poor women in vil­lages have lit­tle or no ac­cess to re­sources. My goal was to com­bine a char­i­ta­ble mis­sion but with a busi­ness hat,” says Walsh, who has more than 15 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in tech­nol­ogy, ven­ture cap­i­tal and so­cial en­trepreneur­ship.

The ini­tial chal­lenge for her was to build trust among the com­mu­ni­ties who were de­nied by other mi­cro­fi­nance or­gan­i­sa­tions. Walsh and her team did over­come that over time, and her cur­rent chal­lenge is to get more donors for her mi­cro­fi­nance ini­tia­tive which has an an­nual turnover of $100,000 ap­prox­i­mately. Walsh also works as a deal­maker for the Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Trade for the Bri­tish govern­ment be­sides teach­ing yoga and play­ing the drums in her free time.

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