This Organization Helps Women Become Entrepreneurs

AROHA entered the capacity building space with the aim of striking a balance between social and economic empowerment among rural poor women, and now works for urban poor women as well

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Shama Pathan, a 30-year-old woman from Nagpur, was not allowed to step out of her house. When Aroha, a capacity building and livelihood providing not-for-profit for women came to her area, she convinced her husband that it is run by women and has women participants, and so he should let her go there. Later, Shama became a trainer with Aroha and has now opened up her own boutique. “Unlike earlier, now Shama is consulted when her family is making decisions. This is one of the many heartening stories that our journey at Aroha has given us,” said Vishakha Rao, co-Founder, Aroha.


Aroha was started by two management specialists—Vishakha Rao and Sharmistha Gandhi in 2002. 

The not-for-profit venture started their work from rural area and is now serving urban women as well. “In rural area women hardly have any option of livelihood other than farming,” said Rao. Aroha, apart from providing skill training and employment to women, also conducts classes on health, nutrition and legal rights. “When a woman enrols with us, we make sure that in every way she becomes an empowered woman. It definitely increases her confidence level because of the knowledge we impart,” asserted Rao.

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An enterprise by the women and for the women

Leadership and operations at Aroha are completely managed by women. After their training programme a lot of women end up opening their own small business enterprises and working. “Our success rate is 65 per cent. Which is very high in our sector,” claimed Rao.

Aroha has four clusters of microenterprises training and employing women. The venture partnered with HCL Foundation last year and with their support has opened two urban centres, and improve their reach towards urban poor women. Aroha has trained more than 22,000 women so far.

HCL Foundation is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of the HCL group.

Corporate Support

Aroha was one of the 150-plus partner organizations and not-for-profits that participated in the two-day event (21st and 22nd January) called Partnering For Change 2020 by HCL Foundation. “For the last two days, we are here to celebrate the division of partnership through which we have been able to reach out to more than 1.5 million beneficiaries across India, in close to 20 states through our flagship programmes HCL Samuday, HCL Uday, HCL Grant and others,” said Nidhi Pundhir, director, HCL Foundation.

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She further added, “Different kinds of source code are being created towards eradication of rural and urban poverty by working towards achieving equality towards education, health, skill development.”