Smita Suchde Gruetter
Growing up in India within a traditional family, I never really questioned norms or opted to challenge the status quo, had it not been for my mother's insistence on quality education.
Education was to be my game changer, as it endowed me with self-confidence and self-worth, prepared me with the tools to become an entrepreneur, and most important, gifted me the ability to make my own choices.
Today, I can proudly say that to think outside the box, to be challenged by creative ideas, and to explore learning in social areas is what best defines me.
This is why quality education is personal to me and this is why, since establishing HEMLATA in 2002, I believe each girl child, regardless of her circumstances – be it race, religion, or economics – should receive an opportunity to empowerment and self-worth.
Named after my mother, HEMLATA works to empower the girl child from India's lowest socio-economic class, helping them to break the cycle of internee.
After two decades of philanthropy and supporting various programs related to children, girls, and women in India, the vision for the HEMLATA 100 initiative was created. Launched in 2018, the H100 initiative aims to support talented girls with quality education and full college scholarships in their chosen fields, including tuition, boarding, meals, transport, books, and a stipend for pocket money.
Our goal in offering the best possible education is to enable these girls, the first in their families, to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and to ensure that they live a life of self-worth and dignity.
Each of our Hemlata Scholars also receive encouragement from a Mentor and a Peer, living outside of India, guiding and befriending them in their journey.
Adhering to six of the 17 Sustainable Goals of 2030, the H100 initiative is not just about philanthropy, but about social innovation, collaboration, and creating real and sustainable impact for the future.
In 2018, the year of our launch, five girls joined our program and we are now in the process of identifying our next group for 2019. The goal is to add more each year until we reach 100, or 1,000, or perhaps even 10,000. It seems like my journey has only just begun.