Shrujan was started in 1969 by Chanda Shroff, a philanthropist from Mumbai. Shroff was interested in preserving the age-old embroidery techniques used by the women of Kutch, a district in the western state of Gujarat. She started a philanthropic venture to protect and preserve this craft; while empowering the women who practiced it. Shroff started by giving raw materials like thread and fabric to women embroiders, encouraging them to create their own pieces and promising them a market for their products.
Today, Shrujan works with 16 different styles of embroidery done by 3,500 women across 100 villages located in and around the Kutch desert. Shroff’s effort and dedication to the cause of preserving Kutchi embroidery has resulted in the financial emancipation of many women whom she has helped. Today, Shrujan’s women embroiders are able to contribute to their family’s income while and sharing with the world a craft that was previously known only in this remote, arid part of the country.
Shroff was a laureate of the renowned Rolex Awards for Enterprise in 2006, having been recognized as an enterprising individual at a global level. Even today, along with overseeing the operations of Shrujan, she still visits the homes of her women embroiders, inquiring about their families, their lives and advising them on their designs and techniques. At 78 years old, Shroff seems to have more energy than a sprightly teenager and it doesn’t look like she’s ready to hang up her boots just yet.