I was born and brought up in New Delhi in a family where fathers were supposed to be the sole breadwinners while mothers were supposed to raise kids and build a ‘good family.’ My childhood was not very special but I remember having a dominating father and a submissive mother, as I grew older I realised my mother wanted to be a doctor but was married off early and then I was born. She is a happy soul but at times, I see how she ‘wishes’ she could have become a doctor. She made sure that her daughter never had to compromise or sacrifice in life.
I come from a family where till my grandparent’s generation there was gender bias but am fortunate enough to have parents that are free-spirited, and supportive. They have always given me confidence and made me believe that I can dream high and achieve anything. However, I never wanted to take the tried and tested path trying new things always motivated me.
Papa always says “Jo karna hai karo beta, bada socho or sapne dekho, agar tu gir bhi gayi to tera baap haina. (Do what you want to. Think big, dream. If you fall down your father will be there to catch you.)” These words are enough for me to face any situation with a smile.
As far as I remember I was a shy girl who was scared of everything, I lacked confidence but was obedient but still ambitious. My initial schooling was at a girls’ school in New Delhi and then I was admitted (or rather accepted) to Delhi Public School, Vasant Kunj. I was a bright student and that gave my parents the hope that I “make them proud by getting multiple degrees.” Their hope and expectations out of me somehow made me take science in my plus two years, with a ‘forced dream’ of cracking ‘The IIT.’ At the age of 14, I was made to realise that cracking the JEE examination is the only way to be termed successful, I studied very hard, an obedient student – no phone or social media. Straight to the day of examination results and I had failed. It now seems insignificant but then it was or at least seemed devasting.
My good percentage in Class 12 landed me admission in Economics (Hons) at Delhi University and is a girl I was supposed to play safe playing safe keeping up with societal norms, I also entered one of the most difficult professional courses – actuarial science. I cleared a few exams but at the age of 16, I was very clear that I did not want to play safe.
I do not want the normal despite clearing the actuarial papers I left the course but thank god my family didn’t let me leave my college.
‘Kuch to bada karna hai par kya? pata nahi.’ With such continuous thoughts one day while coming back to my home from college I saw one kid barefooted with a newspaper in his hand going car to car at a traffic signal and was asking something. He was not begging but wanted to know something, soon he came to my car to ask me what was written in the newspaper since it was in English.
I was so mesmerised seeing that the seven-year-old kid wanted nothing else but his basic right to education. I decided to help him and on further investigation, I found, that 13 more kids like him were not granted admission because they lived on the roads. Who knew the accidental admission of those 13 kids would be my encounter with my life’s calling – entrepreneurship?
Today Kilkari has impacted more than 5,000 kids by getting them into the schools from the streets. This was when I was 16 and ever since there has been no looking back.
The next few months went into working at various co-working spaces, startups, and companies to understand this entirely new world I was completely unaware of. I remember working for free at a co-working space just to know what founders do differently.
It has now been over nine years of being a serial entrepreneur. Post Kilkari, many other social projects and for-profit start-ups began. Some came as great learnings, some got good money and some were just a mistake. One thing that has kept all my work binding is the ‘the crave for change.’
This desire and my experience of all these years got me to found Shakti, Shakti is India’s first women’s safety wearable that has been invented as a bangle to prevent various crimes like molestation, eve teasing and rapes.
It’s 2022 and we want to believe that the world has changed and it is equal. Let me tell you it’s not. Shakti does not believe in women’s empowerment, women are already an empowered species just give them the right tool and set them free.
Shakti is a self-defence fashion hand band that when in use can electrify an attacker by emitting a non-deadly electric current and simultaneously sends your last detected live location to the top three contacts via the shakti application.
Shakti is an attempt to make this world a better place and strive and work towards equality than asking for it.
It aims to give the safety of women into their own hands because it is high time we stop expecting someone else to take care of us.
Shakti means power and it is time to unleash our true power and be independent in the true sense. Shakti shall see you soon!
Srishti Sharma is the founder of Shakti. The views expressed by the author’s own.