Sakshi Thakur’s journey from corporate sector to social impact

By Indira Laisram
Sakshi Thakur // Pic supplied

Sakshi Thakur exudes a gentle demeanor. Despite joining the esteemed ranks of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) awardees in June, she remains modest about the recognition.

“I have been in my little bubble, trying not to rely on external validation to continue doing the work I do. This hasn’t happened in a while, so it feels uncomfortable, but it has meant that people see me as more credible for the work I do. I am still the same person before and after the OAM, but I am looking forward to being worthy of the OAM as time goes on and I keep doing the work I do,” she says.

Thakur is the co-founder and CEO of “Sewing the Seeds,” a social enterprise dedicated to cultivating equitable employment opportunities for women, aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty (more on that later).

Born in Kuwait to Indian parents from Mumbai, her family moved to Australia when she was six. She pursued a double undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences and commerce, majoring in finance, at Monash University.

“Because I failed first-year accounting, a few people told me that I wouldn’t be able to get a job in any accounting firm. Despite initially wanting to pursue something else in my life, a comment from a guy made it my life’s mission to somehow secure a job at one of the Big 4 accounting firms,” she recalls with a laugh.

Pic supplied

Thakur spent about two years in the corporate sector, including a stint at Ernst & Young. After that, she pursued a Master of Entrepreneurship degree at Melbourne Business School, where she launched her first tech startup. Securing seed funding from Credit Suisse was a significant milestone, but unforeseen circumstances led to its closure.

To reconsider her path, Thakur took a three-month break in Pondicherry for reflection, where Sewing the Seeds began. During this time, she volunteered for a non-profit project providing textile education exclusively to women.

However, she observed that despite their training, these women remained on the streets. It became apparent that they needed both time and opportunities to apply their skills to support themselves.

Pic supplied

This realisation spurred her to explore ways to create safer and more meaningful employment opportunities for them, offering better pay and safer working conditions. This transition gradually evolved into producing wholesale textile products, transforming Sewing the Seeds into a larger and more impactful project.

Thakur measures the success of Sewing the Seeds by observing both quantifiable metrics such as employment hours and days for stakeholders like donors and investors, and more importantly, by witnessing the women’s personal growth in their confidence, self-care practices, and contributions to their families and communities.

She believes empowering women is key to breaking the poverty cycle because they are natural savers and investors in their families and communities. “By reminding them of their innate empowerment, we enable them to direct their income towards education, family welfare, and community development. This investment is crucial for sustainable economic growth and social progress, making women the most effective investment to break the cycle of poverty.”

Pic supplied

While Sewing the Seeds operates in India, Thakur, identifying equally as Indian and Australian, feels compelled to give back to both countries. “This dual identity profoundly influences my work, shaping how I dedicate my time, energy, and expertise,” she affirms.

Additionally, as Manager at SENVIC (Social Enterprise Network Victoria) and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Catalysr, Thakur supports social enterprises and migrant startups, facing challenges such as undervalued leadership and mental health issues among social entrepreneurs. She emphasises the need for improved legislation in Australia to foster sector growth.

Reflecting on her journey, Thakur acknowledges her grandmothers’ wisdom: “Both my grandmothers didn’t complete school, but they taught me that real education is life’s journey. How you handle life’s challenges and successes defines your character. Their influence remains strong, despite their passing.”

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