Interview: Ms Prachi Kaushik, a social entrepreneur, Founder & Director of VYOMINI Social Enterprise

Prachi Kaushik

An interview with Ms Prachi Kaushik, a social entrepreneur, Founder & Director of VYOMINI Social Enterprise, and Women Transforming India Award Winner

Welcome to an exclusive interview with Ms Prachi Kaushik, Founder & Director of VYOMINI Social Enterprise. With a profound commitment to empowering grassroots women, she has revolutionized communities, reaching over 100,000 individuals.

Her pioneering efforts in promoting health awareness and revitalizing rural economies through local sourcing exemplify her dedication to sustainable development.

Notably, her remarkable contributions have been recognized with the prestigious Women Transforming India Awards by Niti Aayog in 2022.

Can you share the story behind the inception of VYOMINI Social Enterprise and what inspired you to start this journey?

Prachi Kaushik: Building a strong ecosystem to support women-led entrepreneurship and leadership in developing, high-impact industries like clean energy, agriculture and nutrition, health, and sanitation was the main goal behind the founding of Vyomini Social Enterprise.

Vyomini also wanted to solve problems related to the environment, economy, and society. Two main problems impeding overall development were women’s health and economic empowerment.  Vyomini’s creative strategy takes on these difficulties head-on.

In addition to offering thorough workshops on menstrual health awareness, they also develop long-term business prospects.

How do you perceive the role of grassroots women in addressing societal challenges, particularly in the realms of health awareness and rural economy revitalization?

Prachi Kaushik: The Indian health ecosystem is changing at a rate never seen before, particularly in the cities. It is essential to fundamentally alter the way we view national stigmas and societal issues. This is where Vyomini Social Enterprise’s strategic efforts are putting a focus on changing people’s perceptions.

Since raising awareness is the most important factor in changing perspectives, it is critical to educate rural women at the grassroots level.

Through their efforts to combat the stigma associated with menstruation, promote economic opportunities, and establish a network of empowered changemakers, these women are actively creating a more optimistic future for themselves and millions of women in India. They become more powerful as a result, and it also creates a lot of opportunities, especially for women.

Could you elaborate on some of the key initiatives and programs implemented by VYOMINI Social Enterprise to empower grassroots women and enhance local sourcing of products in rural area.

Prachi Kaushik: In addition to generating revenue and advancing women’s leadership, VYOMINI also cultivates socially conscious female entrepreneurs who improve the environment and have a positive social impact in underserved communities.

Menstrual Health Management, Vyomini Suvidha Kendra, Rural Outreach, Women Empowerment, Campus Connect, Franchise Model, Incubation Center, and Entrepreneurship Support are just a few of the over ten initiatives that Vyomini is currently working on.

By choice, VYOMINI’s work focuses on low-income communities in ten Indian states that are at risk from climate change. Since its inception in 2017, Vyomini has given over 10,000 grassroots women the tools they need to resolve issues by raising health awareness and reviving rural economies through the manufacturing sector.

The majority of people in India still lives in rural areas; there are more than 6 lakh villages and the main challenge is awareness, accessibility and affordability of quality resources. Vyomini is actively addressing menstrual health awareness, affordability, and accessibility in most of the villages to bridge the knowledge gap.

While conducting awareness workshops in the villages of Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttrakhand, and Uttar Pradesh, Vyomini has actively partnered with numerous block development groups, NGOs, and Self-Help groups under the National Rural Livelihood Mission GoI in order to further establish a presence in India’s remote and rural areas.

What are some of the major challenges you have encountered in your efforts to empower women, and how have you overcome them?

Prachi Kaushik: The gender-defined roles that exist in rural areas present a significant challenge, in addition to other problems like inadequate health care, inadequate education, gender discrimination, gender pay disparity for daily wage workers, unequal rights, rape, sexual harassment, issues related to dowries, domestic violence, and stigmas associated with women’s health.

To address this, Vyomini has built a strong ecosystem that empowers, educates, and offers opportunities for financial independence, which helps to mitigate the majority of the issues that have been identified.

In what ways has VYOMINI Social Enterprise contributed to improving health awareness among rural communities, and what impact have you observed so far?

Prachi Kaushik: According to statistics, menstrual health is detrimental in any culture or community. In response, Vyomini introduced “Rakshak,” an inexpensive biodegradable sanitary pad, along with a campaign to address issues related to menstrual health management using our three-point approach—awareness, affordability, and accessibility.

1. Awareness: An understanding of the market’s offerings in feminine hygiene products, including proper usage and disposal. 1000 awareness workshops have been held thus far to continuously promote menstrual health and hygiene with NGOs, SHGs, and educational institutions.

2. Affordability: Vyomini produces high-quality, herbal, biodegradable sanitary napkins at a low cost that is accessible to all classes of people. Th goal is to make sanitary napkins readily available in an attempt to remove any financial barriers that may hinder women from implementing hygienic menstrual health management practices.

In order to achieve this, Vyomini have ensured that our product is of the highest calibre and is both competitively priced in the market. The product is produced locally, which helps to break down the taboos around periods since it gives women a legitimate source of income through employment, engagement, and encouragement in the production process.

3. Accessibility: Menstrual health in India has, to put it mildly, received little attention. This is partly because policymakers are largely ignorant of the issue, and partly because the biological process is socially taboo. Given the appalling death rates resulting from inadequate hygiene, it is unfortunate that there are so few stakeholders in the nation who are even prepared to work toward raising the standards of hygiene available to women.

Vyomini is covering all menstruating women worldwide and reaching out to the unreached.

How does VYOMINI Social Enterprise collaborate with local stakeholders, government agencies, and other organizations to amplify its impact and reach

Prachi Kaushik: Collaboration is the key to reshape Rural India’s empowerment issue, to address this, Vyomini has a 60 hours intensive training program for budding NGOs, Women, SHGs, Cooperatives who are looking forward entrepreneurship support/projects/micro enterprise.

The programs help in Sanitary Napkins Manufacturing, Designer Jute/Cloth/Paper Bags Manufacturing, Paper Recycling, Waste Management and digital marketing

As the recipient of the Women Transforming India Award by Niti Aayog, could you reflect on the significance of such recognition and how it has influenced your journey as a social entrepreneur?

Prachi Kaushik: My mentor – My Gurudev has always said that humans have enough potential to change the world, but a corrupt mindset creates imbalance and causes trouble in society. These words have resonated deeply, shaping my determination to fight against the social and economic inequalities I have witnessed growing up in a low-income family.

The award by Niti Aayog encouraged me to push boundaries further and create a better space for women who are facing stigma led challenges in India

What future plans or expansions do you envision for VYOMINI Social Enterprise, particularly in terms of scaling your impact and reaching more underserved communities?

Prachi Kaushik: The goal is to empower the women of rural India in reaching their true potential there by breaking all stigmas and reshaping the generational perception about women. Vyomini is actively working towards bringing in more initiatives, in an attempt to expand the awareness at a much larger scale, creating business opportunities for these women in the process. 

Lastly, what advice would you offer to aspiring social entrepreneurs who are passionate about making a positive difference in their communities, especially in empowering women and revitalizing rural economies?

Prachi Kaushik: My education is in humanity that which helps me understand the ground dynamics. This is crucial for identifying the challenges and needs of communities. True entrepreneurial spirit, in my opinion, stems from a combination of experience and an inbuilt desire to change the world rather than from a particular degree.

Being an entrepreneur doesn’t require a certain degree; you can either develop your entrepreneurial spirit from birth or learn it via experience. In my case, I had it from birth and have developed it through experience.

Being a first-generation business owner who disregarded social conventions to follow my dreams, I exemplify the very spirit of independence and tenacity that I try to instill in others.

In the landscape of social entrepreneurship, Ms. Prachi Kaushik’s vision and dedication shine brightly, illuminating pathways towards inclusive growth and empowerment.

Her tireless endeavors with VYOMINI Social Enterprise have not only transformed the lives of countless grassroots women but have also ignited a ripple effect of positive change within communities.

As we look to the future, Ms. Kaushik’s exemplary leadership serves as a testament to the profound impact one individual can make in shaping a more equitable and prosperous society.

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