About Me: I am a recent Arizona State University graduate who started Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and Indian NGO with the mission to promote social change by providing vocational training, micro-loans for business assets, voter registration and community meetings to impoverished women in the aftermath of social epidemics. Over the past ten years, Indian farmers have tragically felt so burdened by exorbitant interest rates, that they have felt no other option but to turn to suicide. This disturbing phenomenon leaves a growing population of widows, who heroically balance supporting their families with a social status considered to be one of the lowest in India. WEI is helping economically disadvantaged women to become decision-makers and leaders in their families, communities, India, and throughout the world by helping them to build sustainable entrepreneurial ventures. Entrepreneurs have a personal stake in the success of their surrounding communities because they have invested something in them and they rely on their workers and community resources to pull off their business… if the community fails they fail.

Helping a widow support herself is not something unfamiliar to me. As a freshman in college a close friend of mine lost his father, and his mother was left to support herself and her three sons. I was there as she was denied loans for the capital to start her own company. She eventually relied on family, credit, and the small amount of life insurance he did have to begin this company. We worked long hours but nothing was more rewarding than knowing that her children would be provided for even without both parents. My focus on helping the widows of Southern India comes from long hours spent helping my friend’s mom with her business, working with the poor in the United States since high school, and the contacts in India who have expressed great need for such a program. The story of WEI is a story of women’s empowerment through social change. Moved by stories of tragic suicides and the oppression of widows in the societies of India, I traveled there, committed to the idea that a small, lean group of people can make a difference, and do so without the overhead and bureaucracy of larger enterprises. I listened to the heartbreaking stories and dreams of over 500 women, so that I could create a business model that would ensure these women’s success. This business model works because the widows themselves created it. While many organizations work to prevent suicide, a gap exists in its aftermath; WEI fills that gap by helping widows support themselves through entrepreneurial ventures.

Comment on this Post


Hi Heather,

Welcome to PulseWire!

We are thrilled to have you as a new member in our thriving community of women who are lifting their voices in the name of empowerment and connecting across borders to make positive change for women everywhere!

I was so happy to see your picture with the Indian women you've helped empower and to read you story here on PulseWire. I hope that you continue to share with our community your voice, your work and the successes of your organization and loan recipients. I encourage you to utilize Resource ExChange, a global bulletin board designed to offer access to needed resources as well as the ability to provide resources to those in need and explore and contribute to Sharing Solutions, a library of working models and blueprints.

Also, I would like to invite you to participate in a new writing opportunity to be published in World Pulse Magazine. We are asking women around the world to tell us what Land means to them.

Check it out! http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire/programs/mystory

This is a safe space for women to share, connect, learn, support and grow in the empowerment process together.


Warm regards, Jade

Hi Heather,

Welcome to PulseWire! I'm so inspired by your transformational micro-loans program and I'm glad you found our community--it seems like you have a lot to share with us on PulseWire. Let me know if you have any questions about our community and I will try and steer you in the right direction.

Best, Michelle

MichelleWorld Pulse Technology Associate

I love your program and am excited to hear about the work that you do. I am happy that you are posting already and sharing your stories with our community. Your work is inspiring and I love the 'Paying it forward" component as I think it is so important for those who have been assisted to turn around and help someone who is in the situation she once was. That empathy and connection builds stronger communities and increases the likelihood of success.

I wish you all the best with your programs and when you have some time, explore our PulseWire community. We have had many members share their insights into the widow situations in their own countries. You might like to read their stories, and connect with them to share ideas, concerns and success stories. With best wishes, Janice http://worldpulse.com/node/3350

Leonida Odongo who shares her experience working with rural widows through the Ebony Youth and Orphans Support Initiative in Kenya http://worldpulse.com/node/12341

Manori who wrote about the Esther Centre, a Christian home for widows and single mothers in Sri Lanka. http://worldpulse.com/node/14173

Olakitike who wrote an insightful article about widowhood in Nigeria. http://www.worldpulse.com/node/7362

Shazia Khan who wrote about a widow's life in limbo in India. http://www.worldpulse.com/node/11076

Lanjana who wrote about the harsh life of widows in Nepal.

Hey there! Welcome to PulseWire!

Its so exciting having you with us, I am sure you will have a fun time with your new online friends. I know that you will find this to be a positive experience and I encourage you to take advantage of the numerous resources and features available through our vibrant online community.

Welcome again to our global community and I look forward to hearing more from you here on PulseWire!