I stand on the shoulders of giants......

Safecity- Elsa D'Silva
Posted September 8, 2016 from India

I am where I am today because of the many people who have helped me along the way. Some of them have been part of my journey throughout and others have come into my life for a moment or sometimes a season. Nevertheless, they have influenced me and showed me the way directly or indirectly.

Today at the age of 43, working actively on the issue of sexual violence at my organisation Safecity, I am conscious of how lucky I am to be born in the family I was born to. I appreciate my parents' liberal outlook on life, never discriminating between my brother, sister and myself, always encouraging us to pursue our dreams and never limiting our choices in education or career.

My love for reading was encouraged by my parents and this expanded my imagination, always yearning for more - an ideal world and questioning the status quo. At the age of 16, I was sent by myself, overseas, to join my cousins on holiday and this would forever ignite my love for travel. The constant support for my life's choices - education, career, lifestyle, etc has defined me as a person and often it is a shock when I find other women and girls may not have had such a liberating experience as I did.

In the recent past, I am grateful to three wonderful fellowships that I am part of - The Swedish Institute Management Program, Vital Voices and Aspen New Voices.

Thanks to the Swedish Institute Management Program, I was able to find the courage to start my entrepreneurial journey with Safecity. It exposed me to a broader world view, best practices in human rights and sustainability and gave me a network in India where I would find support for my work. When I doubted myself, I had a mentor who sat me down and said what needed to be said. There was no looking back after that. My peers trusted me early on and gave me a helping hand - whether it was business or marketing support, constantly motivating and encouraging me.

Vital Voices believed in my work even before I could see its potential. The wide network of like minded women entrepreneurs made it possible to collaborate within India and across the world and helped me test the Safecity model in diverse settings - Kenya, Nepal and Cameroon. Magically, when we needed money or resources, Vital Voices would issue a grant proposal or an application as though they read my mind. It truly has been a superb support system for a budding entrepreneur.

Aspen New Voices encouraged me to find my voice and gave me a platform globally to talk about my work. Working with mentors and peers, constantly being encouraged with news hooks and Skype calls, I have penned articles for world class publications - TIME, Huffington Post, CNN amongst others and spoken at Aspen Ideas Festival, given a TED talk and hosted a roundtable at City Lab London.

At this point, my work has impacted close to 100,000 people including youth. It has won me several awards personally as well as for Safecity. I have a hectic travel schedule - attending or speaking at conferences, have my own weekly column with an online publication and a chat series in Twitter's BlueRoom. A few years ago, I never dreamed I would be doing all these things.

There are too many people who are part of my journey to thank individually, but I am conscious everyday that if I have achieved great heights, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.

This post was submitted in response to I Am Where I Am Because....

Comments 4

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Tania Echaporia
Sep 10, 2016
Sep 10, 2016

Elsa, I am truly inspired by your work and what you have achieved at Safecity. Your passion, dedication and perseverance are qualities I wish to emulate. You are truly an inspiration to me and all other women.

Safecity- Elsa D'Silva
Sep 10, 2016
Sep 10, 2016

Thank you Tania for your kind comments.

Jessica Xalxo
Sep 12, 2016
Sep 12, 2016

Your journey from standing on the shoulders of giants to being a giant today to so many is inspiring. The path you chose when you founded Safecity is not one that many would opt to take and what is so striking is that you did it your own way and blazed a new radical path because you aren't afraid to experiment and are always open to new ideas. Thank you for being my giant, Elsa!

Safecity- Elsa D'Silva
Sep 14, 2016
Sep 14, 2016

Thank you