From Local Tailors to Global Fashion Gurus, this is the Story of Saheli Women

The AJALA Project
Feb 7, 2017 · 4 min read

I have heard of Muhammad Ali, Jet Li and even Broccoli but never of SAHELI. Who can it be? What’s it about? These were the thoughts running through my head as I searched on Google to find out more about the SAHELI women. I came across a number of unrelated information,until I was pointed in the right direction by the co-founder of The AJALA Project.

Before going into the detail on what I found from my search about Saheli Women? Permit me this few questions which I’m about to ask you, the reader. When was the last time you appreciated or thanked your mom for all she has done for you over the years? You might be wondering why this sort of question? More often than not we fail to value the sacrifices our mothers have made; appreciating the things they’ve done for us naturally translates into good values that makes us respect women and elders of our community. So you know what to do right after reading this article, thank your mom and start respecting all the amazing women you come across in life.

Without Madhu Vaishnav, founder and creator of Saheli Women — hundreds of single and unmarried women won’t be able to make ends meet. Her vision is “To empower women, eradicate poverty and re-inject integrity back into the fashion world”. Madhu completed her post graduate studies in Community and Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley then came back to India to work as the program coordinator for an international non-profit organisation — Foundation for Sustainable Development and that is how the journey that gave rise to SAHELI WOMEN began.

Saheli Women is a women’s empowerment micro-enterprise that provides skills training and livelihood opportunities to groups of women and connects them with the international consumer market. With an assets-focused approach to community development, Saheli Women builds upon existing skills and interests in sewing and uses Rajasthani designs to create garments that appeal to the international market. They produce contemporary fashion accessories such as anklets, coin purses, hold all clutches, wallets, computer cases, tote bags, wrapping bags, and pillow cases, as well as blouses, scarves, jackets, pants, and skirts. Their products are quite bohemian in design with ever-popular tribal and gypsy themes. In 2015, Saheli Women was born in the desert village of Bhikamkor, Rajasthan which is quite disconnected from modern life. In Bhikamkor the social status of women is low, they still maintain conservative practices such as full face veils and keeping new brides inside the home. Cultural norms encourage early marriages instead of schooling, maternal death rates are high, anaemia is highly prevalent, and menstrual health is taboo.

Currently with 16 working members and 30 community members, Saheli Women plans to have at least 150 working women to be receiving a wage above the international poverty line, and enable them to live a self-sustaining life to be able to provide for their families. When Sachin Tendulkar goes and adopts a village, there is media frenzy ,but it is people like Madhu whose story is living proof that to be a changemaker or make a difference in people’s lives you need not be a celebrity all you need is a beautiful heart and a will that never falters.

With Saheli Women, Madhu has not just empowered the women of Bhikamkor, she has molded entrepreneurs and change-makers who are like her. Who knows, maybe your girlfriend (Saheli in Hindi) might be wearing a product created by Saheli Women. You can support this cause by making a purchase from their website or by purchasing artwork inspired by their stories from You can become a change-maker and ambassador in your community. Find out how at With that said, don’t forget to thank your mom and support Saheli Women how you can!

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Written by Fredrick Xavier. Edited by: Bayo Hassan Bello

Fredrick has started his M.B.A. and specialize in leadership management and Digital marketing He loves music, cricket, traveling and learning languages.

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The AJALA Project

A movement that uses artwork to showcase changemakers and…