As part of the 90Caps series on Women of Substance, we feature Shalini Vig Wadhwa whose philanthropic foundation, The Festival of Hope, is a cancer awareness programme in association with the Indian Cancer Society.
The awards shelf in Shalini Vig Wadhwa’s plush home in Gurgaon is full. Prominent among them is the prestigious Priyadarshini Award for Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur given by the Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs & the Federation of International Women Entrepreneurs and the The Bharat Nirman Award for Entrepreneurship.
A double Master’s degree in Business Management and Advertising, Journalism & Marketing, Shalini’s philanthropic foundation, The Festival of Hope, is a cancer awareness programme in association with the Indian Cancer Society. She is also co-founder of Renge Art, a company that provides emerging artists a platform to promote their work.
The real rewards, however, smiles Shalini, “are the opportunities I get to reach out and help cancer patients and to celebrate the courage and spirit of cancer survivors through my NGO.” More than 15,000 people including models, actors, designers, cricketers and doctors have been associated with the Festival of Hope. Its latest edition is all set to dazzle the audience as it takes them on a journey from Umrao Jaan to JaanisaarAkhtar in a fashion extravaganza with India’s ace designer Meera Muzaffar Ali.
“Almost 60 leaders of hope will walk the ramp to support cancer awareness, including Mrs Earth, Priyanka Khurana. She is also the brand ambassador of the Festival of Hope,” elaborates social entrepreneur Shalini as she juggles her hectic schedule with rehearsals leading up to the grand finale on April 3 at DLF Emporio.
“Funds collected this charity season will be used by the Foundation for 9-year-old Rimjhim’s fight against cancer at AIIMS,” she tells 90caps. Other events already on her agenda include an art festival in October and an exhibition of designer wear in November.
It was an “inner call to give back to society” that goaded Shalini to chuck her successful corporate career, which included stints with MNC giants: DLF, MTS and Paharpur, and plunge head-on into social service, for which she was also recently nominated as the ‘Social Entrepreneur’ by the Indo British Business Council.
Naturally, there is plenty going on in her life right now. “Among other things, I’m planning a multi designer store in Gurgaon and working on the launch of two new brands,” she highlights, playfully petting her pet Lab Nawab, whom she calls her ‘stress buster’.
Drawing inspiration mainly from her parents and Sadhguru, this very-grounded Virgo, however, dreams of “retiring gracefully after achieving what I have set out to do and that is to eventually involve corporate CSR initiatives and bring together institutions like civil hospitals & schools to further the cause of cancer awareness though a host of art and culture events.”
Take fashion for example, “it has worked beautifully for us and the money generated has helped greatly in our fight against cancer.” No wonder then that her message to women of today is to “seize opportunities as the world is yours”.
She leaves us with an inspiring Steve Job’s quote, which is also the motto of her life, “don’t waste your time living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”