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PVBLIC SPOTLIGHT: Saheli Women Receives Fashion Impact Fund Grant to Empower Rural Women

Photo credit: Saheli Women

The Fashion Impact Fund, a program of PVBLIC Foundation, is pleased to announce Saheli Women, a non-profit social enterprise based in India, as their latest grant recipient. 

Founded in 2015 by Madhu Vaishnav, Saheli Women is committed to financially empowering marginalized women in rural Rajasthan through ethical fashion. The organization operates an ethical fashion atelier that creates meaningful and sustainable livelihood opportunities, preserves traditional craft techniques, and advocates for a fashion system based on gender equality and cultural heritage.  Saheli Women have received funding from the Fashion Impact Fund for their 2024 Skills Development Programme that aims to train up to 21 women in the technical skills of handloom such as weaving fabric and making yarn from raw cotton over the duration of 9 months.

Madhu Vaishnav, the visionary founder of Saheli Women, embarked on a journey of community development through female empowerment. After challenging traditional gender roles and gaining experience in education and female empowerment projects, Madhu established Saheli Women with a startup budget of $100 and five women. Today, Saheli Women has grown into a thriving organization with two atelier centers, employing over 100 women from rural villages and collaborating with more than 20 global fashion brands.

The key impediments faced by Madhu in the early stages included breaking cultural barriers to recruit women and seeking permission from their families. Despite the challenges, Saheli Women has become a symbol of empowering women, and supporting the belief that empowering one woman uplifts an entire community. As the women at Saheli Women become financially empowered, they invest in the education of their children, reducing the prevalence of child labour in their community. The women also invest in the healthcare and wellbeing of their entire family and in turn, they are able to lift their families out of poverty.

Madhu Vaishnav expressed her gratitude for the funding from the Fashion Impact Fund, stating, “Thanks to the financial support we have received from The Fashion Impact Fund, we are able to expand our collective of women, begin a new handloom training program, and work strongly towards achieving SDG 5 of Gender Equality. We believe that achieving gender equality will have a butterfly effect in achieving all other Sustainable Development Goals. Gender equality is the foundation for all sustainability, which is why we are so grateful to be able to grow our collective of financially empowered women.”

Kerry Bannigan and Madhu Vaishnav. Image: Lisa Kato

Kerry Bannigan, Managing Director, PVBLIC Foundation, emphasized the initiative's dedication to empowering women through its support of Saheli Women. She stated, "Selecting Saheli Women as a grant recipient resonates deeply with the core values and objectives of the Fashion Impact Fund. Under the visionary leadership of Madhu Vaishnav, Saheli Women not only symbolizes a steadfast commitment to gender equality but also serves as a beacon for community empowerment and the advancement of sustainable fashion. Recognizing that investing in women goes beyond financial support, the Fashion Impact Fund stands firmly in its belief that fostering women's leadership and initiatives like Saheli Women paves the way for positive societal transformation, economic growth, and the establishment of a more inclusive and environmentally responsible future."

PVBLIC Foundation is proud to expand its support of the work towards advancing women's financial independence, combating poverty, discrimination, and gender-based violence, while also promoting positive change within the fashion industry through the work of the Fashion Impact Fund. Read more about the impactful work being done by Saheli Women here.

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