Interview with Riddhi Doshi Patel – Founder of LAJA & Rhyns Academy Pvt Ltd
Q. How did you get your idea or concept for starting LAJA?
A. I have always believed in women’s empowerment and have practiced what I have preached. While working with students and children during my workshops at the Rhyns academy Pvt Ltd, I realized that the mother’s who came to drop their children were skilled, talented, educated and ambitious, however societal opinion, family pressure and lack of self-assurance made them retreat into their shells. Each of these women had the qualifications required to achieve something, it was their lack of confidence that stopped them from stepping out. That is when I realized that my mission of empowering children or the youth would fail if the mother’s who stood by them were not empowered themselves. So started LAJA.
Here we focus on providing a platform for women to open up, discuss their thoughts, debate their ideas, improve and update their skills and venues to apply these learnings effectively. Our women are not just empowered, but also educated, enlightened and emancipated after attending our sessions.
Q. What were the most difficult hurdles in establishing your venture?
A. The women we aimed to empower were the first hurdles so to speak. The feeling of being caught or trapped was evident; and so was the feeling of helplessness. This combination made them feel like they were in quicksand. The more they moved to get out, the more entrapped they felt. To get them to understand their own worth was the first task we had. Once they realized, how talented and how important they were as an individual then only they will be able to step out to improve their existence. We always emphasized the need to prioritize – child, family, health, finance, self and the finally society. We never encouraged women to shun their duties; on the other hand, we explained the need for a homogeneous balance. Achieving this balance is crucial.
Q. What qualities have you learned about leadership and entrepreneurship after becoming an entrepreneur?
A. The most important quality or lesson I learned about leadership and entrepreneurship is that leaders and entrepreneurs are not born; they are made with dedicated effort, hard work focused vision and the will to keep learning and improving. One cannot set up an empire at the first go; trial and error are part and parcel of being an entrepreneur. At the same time learning and sharing knowledge is what makes a leader. One cannot grow if one has not taught the next in line with the rules of the game. Your team’s growth is the only way you can grow.
Q. Riddhi Doshi, after all this success, what do you struggle with now?
A. Success is still a relative term. I have so much more to achieve and so much further to go. Each new venture, workshop, training program or event I plan, I still go through the same feelings of anxiety and nerves. Yes, I do know how to plan better and execute better, but each time we have to plan for a margin of error. Sometimes the error is minor and we can laugh about it later, however, sometimes the error could be the deciding factor in our future endeavors. Nothing is written in stone, and the day it does get written in stone then that stone will probably be in my memory.
Q. What is LAJA all about and how does it contribute to women empowerment?
A. LAJA is a thought which lit up in my mind when I saw qualified women take the backseat post marriage or childbirth. Every woman out there has had to prioritize her life and most often than not the family and society rang much higher than self and growth. I wanted to change this. I am not a feminist asking woman to shun men and the patriarchal society. I am a woman who happens to have the best of both worlds. My family does rank much higher than anything else in my life, but my career and my individuality stand shoulder to shoulder with my family. Woman empowerment for me is this – a world where women call the shots to their lives irrespective of their backgrounds. A lady could have been at the peak of her career earing 50-60K a month. The same lady should have the liberty to give it all up and be a working from home if she wishes to. The catch here is that ‘she has to wish it’. At the same time, a woman should be able to be the next Indra Nooyi, albeit if she wishes to be so!
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