Growing up as a young girl in India, I have fond memories of my great-aunt’s
backyard, and a sweetly scented, flowering vine that graced her fence. I recall
being amazed at the abundance of the lush, white flowers that seemed to spread
their loveliness in all directions, made possible by the care given by my great-
aunt. In Gujarati, my native language, that beautiful flower was called saaheli, which
also means “girlfriend.”
I believe that like the saaheli vine, women, too, have unlimited growth potential.
With enough encouragement and support, especially from a tribe of other
women, they can flourish and reach the sky.
My own story is a testament to the importance of support and its transformative
powers. Immigrating to the United States as a young Indian woman who spoke barely any
English, I faced many social and cultural barriers. But thanks to a few kind people
who saw my potential, I was given the opportunity to progress, grow and lead,
culminating in a nearly 40-year career in hospitality.
That experience instilled in me a desire to pay it forward, and to remind other
young women that anything’s possible.
I created the Saaheli to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment
globally and to engage, educate and encourage women to become independent
and realize their full potential.
-Founder Sima Patel