Helping rural women find market for their craftware

Gouri Sanket Manjrekar has set up Pankh India Foundation that trains women in perfecting their skills

Updated - March 07, 2024 09:38 pm IST

Published - March 07, 2024 09:37 pm IST - Belagavi

Rural women with Gouri Sanket Manjrekar who has set up Pankh India Foundation to help find market for their handicrafts.

Rural women with Gouri Sanket Manjrekar who has set up Pankh India Foundation to help find market for their handicrafts. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Gouri Sanket Manjrekar, a young entrepreneur from Chikkodi in Belagavi district, has helped several rural women find stable market for their craftware.

Pankh India Foundation, started by her, takes women into its fold and hand holds them at every stage. They are trained either to perfect their existing skills or imparted new ones. They are motivated to create or modify products that have assured markets. At the end, they are assisted to exhibit or sell their products.

A post-graduate in computer applications, she used to work for a multinational company. She underwent executive coaching from IIM Raipur. But she quit her job and settled down in Chikkodi.

Along with co-founder Manish Shanbhag, she started Pankh Handicrafts to provide sustainable livelihood to underprivileged women. The women can be contacted through the website,

“We also export some of our products overseas. We have worked with the Embassy of India in Paris to promote Make In India through handcrafted jute bags and folders,” she said.

She also started an online forum for women named STREE-Educate Employ Empower that aims to empower women through education reformation.

Its programmes now reach nearly 10,000 regularly. In 2019, she was given Indian Women Excellence and Leadership Award in the NGO and Rural Entrepreneurship category.

Ms. Manjarekar admits that women entrepreneurs face some problems, compared to men. However, she said that the problems she faced were fewer than what others may have faced.

“Embarking on my journey in social work for rural women was a transformative experience, marked by challenges as well as growth. My struggle initially stemmed from the stark differences between rural and urban life. Adaptation was key. I had to immerse myself in the grassroots, male-centric environment. Yet, empowering these rural women, against all odds, empowered me in return,” she said.

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