Paulo Coelho’s quote “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” fits in its true sense to Revathi Kulkarni’s life. She has been so passionate about driving that she could not wait for another day after her 18th birthday to learn driving, which was a rare scenario in the 1970s, but she was unstoppable and did get her license to drive on the roads of Mumbai.
Revathi has been ardent for driving a car since her childhood, which was a very uncommon practise back then. When she was a teenager, very limited people owned a car, which was either an ambassador or a fiat. Her father owned an ambassador and allowed her to drive, and she being very grateful about it, feels that her father made a very bold decision to allow her to drive since she lost her brother in a car crash.
While she was completing her higher studies in the 1980s from Mumbai, she simultaneously took part in car rallies, and as quoted above, women taking part in these rallies was extremely uncommon. However, she took to the first gear and broke all the stereotypes. Of the 70 rallies she would have participated in she lost only five. Such was her passion that even when she was pregnant with her first child, she was out participating in a rally.
A few years later, she realized that she should move a step ahead and test her hand in entrepreneurship. She used her driving skills to launch ForShe. A few years into it she sold her shares and went on to start yet another can service for women by women in Mumbai called Viira in 2010 with another serial entrepreneur, Preeti Sharma. A few years later she moved out and worked at Sakal, an independently-owned media business in Maharashtra and iCare Learning, which added another feather to her hat.
Talking about HeyDidi, it is an offshoot of Zaffiro Learning, co-founded by Revathi and Jagdish Gothi of Kamdhenu Stores in February 2016. Zaffiro employs underprivileged women with necessary skills and training imparted to be licensed drivers, helps to procure the vehicle, and places them on the job, hence making them self-reliant and independent. Revathi felt there’s a huge need for the last-mile delivery service, be it parcels or humans. Hence, she started HeyDidi. She believes that there is no platform, which is already presented for women. With e-commerce growing the way it is, this can get traction. Within 6 months they enrolled about 300+ women and on the road, about 30 girls in Mumbai and Bengaluru. HeyDidi enables the girls to get a loan and get vehicles in their name.
She was honoured with the ‘Women Transforming India Award’ in 2016 by NITI Aayog, which simply shows that continuously thriving for her goals and never stopping is what that kept her moving. Her never say die attitude and passion and love for driving took her places many girls and women her age would have never even imagined. Doing something that no one had done before wouldn’t have come easy.