The mere idea of harnessing microfinance for Gujarat’s impoverished is simply unbelievable, and well, mind-blowing as well. However, based in San Francisco, Sheetal Mehta Walsh has not just made this possible, she has made it a magnificent success.
About Shanti Life
Shanti life is an organization that cares only about giving back. It is not a profit-based organization, it rather is a team of people who transfer their skills in entrepreneurship, finance, technology, social work, sustainability, and training to vulnerable people. They believe that the underprivileged do not have their part of access to the resources, so the team ensures that they can get those resources and become independent from the loan cycle. their interest rates are amongst the lowest MFIs and are used for local administration. They care about paying it forward so once a loan has been repaid it gets recycled.
About Sheetal Mehta Walsh
The founder of Shanti Life, Sheetal Mehta Walsh, has herself seen a huge deal of struggles, all through her life. Her parents brought her when she was just two days old to Canada as refugees from Uganda in 1972. Overwhelmed and emotional, she says her parents did everything they could to make sure she could be exposed to choices and opportunities. A major part of her life was the community and her best memories are those with the community where her parents spent a great deal of time giving back and contributing to the well-being of others. She has spent some 17 years working with not for profits venture capitalists and investment banks, Microsoft, UK and UAE Governments and hundreds of entrepreneurs. She always wanted to give back in a meaningful way and thought she could bring together the skills from her experience to make a difference. Working with the poor to provide them with resources so that they can create sustainable businesses has resulted in Shanti Life. They provide their networks, microfinance (a low-interest rate and a recyclable fund), mentoring, and training to entrepreneurs in slums and villages. Furthermore, they help them go to market by providing a platform where they can sell the goods they produce online. All proceeds go back to the artisans so that they can scale their businesses.
Talking about her education, Sheetal has a Masters in International Relations (Economics) at the London School of Economics and a BA (Honors) in International Politics at the University of Alberta, Canada. She is a yoga teacher and plays drums and dhol, which simply shows that is a very lively personality.
Her hard work and sheer dedication towards her work paid well off. She has received several awards: Asian Women of Achievement: Social and Humanitarian (Prince Charles and Cherie Blair) for her efforts on taking technology to develop communities in India and Africa (2005); Management Today Magazine 35 Under 35; Success Magazine No 5 of topmost powerful Asian women in the UK (2006), Award for Entrepreneur of the Year by Asian Woman Magazine and No 3 Ones To Watch’ section of the Asian Power 100 list – the most influential and highest achieving Asian women in Britain (2007). Asian Woman Magazine covered a story of Sheetal’s business in the Sept 2007 issue. Sheetal has been invited to Buckingham Palace for the “Women in Business” reception hosted by Her Majesty, The Queen in November 2007, Alumni Award of Excellence from the University of Alberta, and was nominated for the Microsoft Alumni Integral Awards 2012 and 2013. Sheetal Mehta Walsh is indeed an inspiration.