Hunter business woman, Shivani Gupta has been appointed to the board of the long-standing, international charity that gives women new skills in technology to lift them out of poverty while also providing millions of people worldwide with access to clean water and safe, reliable energy.
The business mentor, speaker and author is the first Australian to join the board of The Barefoot College. Shivani has just returned from India for her first board meeting. Also at the meeting was newly appointed patron Therese Rudd, an Australian business woman and wife of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Shivani says it is a privilege and an exciting time to be appointed to the board as Barefoot College has a new three-year strategy to further expand its impact globally. She hopes to help foster expansion in to the Asia Pacific regions.
“My experience and interests align with Barefoot’s singular objective of spreading self-sufficiency and sustainability,” Shivani says.
She has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the International Grad School of Management and a Bachelor of Electrical/Electronic Engineering. The Telstra Business Women of the Year Award winner founded and runs Passionate People Institute and has expertise on a range of not-for-profit boards, including National Speakers Association of Australia and Heal for Life Foundation – a charity for survivors of childhood trauma and abuse.
Shivani has supported Barefoot College for several years. She gives a percentage of proceeds from speaking engagements, book sales as well as seminars she runs for women. She visits Barefoot College with groups of Australians on her personal development tours to India. Shivani was born in India and speaks Hindi.
Her latest initiative has been to establish Barefoot College as a partner of Australia’s Humankind Project, run by Australian business woman and Philanthropist Jacinta McDonell. The partnership enables Australian’s donating to The Barefoot College to receive a tax deduction.
“As the world focuses on global poverty alleviation and combating climate change, Barefoot’s holistic approach built on empowering women from around the globe offers a clear plan for large-scale impact,” Shivani said.
“For more than 40 years, The Barefoot College has designed new ways empower and nurture, one village at a time, one woman at a time.
“Its programs address 14 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
One of the Barefoot initiatives Shivani is passionate about are the night schools run in villages. Girls, who often work to support their families, come to get an education. The schools have a student run council with a president and cabinet which she says also gives the girls confidence and skills in leadership.
“I think all businesses and their leaders have an obligation to give back to others less fortunate,” Shivani said.
“Much of my business work now is helping women to be better leaders and to gain balance in their lives.
“Yet, the issues we face in Australia get put in to perspective when you enter one of the colleges in India and hear the inspiring stories of how these women and girls are creating their own future.”
Today, The Barefoot College operates in 1300 villages in 77 countries. Its training has a ripple effect, positively impacting two million people giving them access to clean water and safe, reliable energy.
IMAGE | Shivani Gupta far left with fellow Board members and staff of The Barefoot College.