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A candid talk with Dr. Sarika Kulkarni, Founder Director, Raah Foundation

- By Editor, 14 March 2021 | 11 MIN READ


In 2011 three professionals decided to use their education and experience to contribute to making this world a better place. Today, Raah Foundation is a large group of like-minded passionate people who have come together to find a solution to some of the most pressing and complicated problems of the world and to make a sustainable difference to this beautiful planet. In this episode of Binspired, we have with us @Sarika Kulkarni the Founder - Director of Raah Foundation who talks about how the foundation has successfully addressed grassroot poverty and have managed to create and facilitate a better world for some of the most poor and underprivileged communities in Maharashtra.

Through a combination of various interventions, an integrated and holistic approach, a systematic bottom up strategy that took cognisance of the existing resources and skills available and the gaps that need to be addressed to trigger a virtuous cycle of transformation and change and last but not the least empowering the communities to select the best path forward.

Here’s what Dr. Sarika Kulkarni one of the founders of the organisation has to say about the organisation.

“Our Vision is 'to make a better everyday life for the tribals' and our mission is ' to drive large scale change in the lives of tribals by creating local opportunities enabling them to lead an honourable life in their own villages'

We strive to achieve our mission by focusing on the tribal belt of Maharashtra. Our focus on betterment of livelihoods of tribals is being done by providing them proper guidance about how to move forward with their Work , giving them the resources and platform to showcase their skills. These skills involve Warli Art and Patchwork. Tribals of the Warli Tribe of Maharashtra are specially skilled with this artform. But this beautiful skill doesn't give them the benefit of earning their livelihood. Which is why this artform is on the verge of extinction. One of our main aims is to save this artform. We have an art studio which has been a huge success! Also our very own brand Yana promotes patchwork and Warli art!

We have several projects running that are focussed on making their life easier and happier.

Our water projects involve making check dams, building new wells and deepening of existing wells. Water is one the basic necessities and is barely available to these people. Before our intervention in Jawhar/ Mokhada area the drinking water availability was 5-6 months, water available for farming was almost none and time spent on fetching water was 5-6 hours. There has been considerable improvement after providing help. Drinking water ability has increased to 10-11 months, time spent on fetching water has decreased to 30 min- 1hr , water for farming makes it possible to grow 2-3 crops.

Our health check up camps continue to be the most challenging area but address the the widespread problem of malnourishment. Approximately 10,000 people have benefited directly and indirectly due to our efforts. Every skill is special and unique and every art has its own beauty!

Tribals have the most colourful history and culture! Let's spread happiness in their lives and make it equally cheerful”

Milestones so far…


Raah Foundation registered and all necessary permissions obtained



Starts entrepreneurship development program in Nagpur



Starts entrepreneurship development program in Mumbai with women’s groups.



•          Ventures into tribal areas of Jawhar & Mokhada in Palghar District and starts women’s livelihood program focussed on tailoring and embroidery.

•          Expands entrepreneurship program in Mumbai

•          Exits from Nagpur after an intensive train the trainer program puts it on an auto pilot mode.

•          Received second prize by Society magazine for most innovative social products.



•          Program in Jawhar faces challenge in summer months as water becomes scarce and women need to spend more time on fetching water leaving them little time or energy for any income opportunity.

•          Board decides to expand livelihood program to include water and health as these were proving to be big impediments.

•          Builds two check dams in Jawhar as a pilot.

•          Exits from Mumbai as founders decides to have a focussed approach to change tribal lives by transforming tribal hamlets.

•          Was felicitated by Sasmira Institute of Textiles for use of colourful fabrics in product creation.


•          Expanded water intervention by building 15 check dams, 4 open wells and 4 bore wells.

•          Started program with Warli artisans to help them commercialise the art form as well as revive the traditional art form and put it back in the hands of the artisans.

•          Starts Raah Creative Designs LLP, a social business to provide market linkages to tribal warli art products and products made by women groups.

•          Started fabric art program with tribal women to revive the glory of patch work art.



•          Built/ repaired 11 check dams, 10 open wells and bore wells in Jawhar.

•          Started work in Mokhada

•          Was selected as one of the 50 promising rural social businesses in the handicraft sector by Harvard South Asia Institute and Tata Trust

•          Was selected by Harvard South Asia Institute & Tata Trust for a social innovation grant to start Warli Art studio in Jawhar to promote warli art.

•          Case Study on Raah Foundation’s Warli Art program published by Harvard Business school.

•          Was felicitated by world CSR congress as an emerging NGO.

•          Received the coveted FCRA approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs to enable Raah Foundation to accept donations in foreign currency.



•          Built 9 check dams, 8 open wells and bore wells in Jawhar.

•          Launched Urja program for supporting women start micro businesses in their own hamlets. This program includes helping women start grocery shops, tailoring shops, dry fish selling business, artificial jewellery shop, floor mill etc.

•          Launched Krishi – a farming school for training tribal farmers take multiple crops and earn a sustainable income and thereby stop migration.

•          Launched Soukhya – health program to identify and treat malnourished children and anaemic women.

•          Launched Urja – program to support tribal women to start micro businesses and become independent and self-sufficient.

•          Received the prestigious Sabera award for Rural transformation and agriculture program

•          Raah Foundation was invited to first ever Women Economic Forum held at Reykjavik, Iceland



•          Registered Raah Foundation as an 501© organisation in USA to facilitate giving tax benefit to American donors.

•          Signed an MOU with Puri Foundation to adopt Zap for holistic transformation over a three year period and create a better world for over 4500 tribals of Zap.

•          Constructed7 dams, 7 open wells and 8 bore wells

•          Starting a tailoring school for women from Malvani slum of Malad, Mumbai with the objective of providing income generation for them.

•          Signed an MOU with APPI to adopt three villages and make them water positive for a period of three years.



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