Video: Meet our partner Lila Poonawalla

We’d like to introduce you to our partner Lila Poonawalla, of the Lila Poonawalla Foundation.

During the time of Partition, Lila’s family fled from Pakistan to India. Sadly, her father died on the way. Her family didn’t have much money, and she was the only one of her siblings to go to college. Her friends were shocked and even laughed when Lila enrolled as the first female student at the Government College of Engineering in Pune.

But Lila went on to an unprecedented career, becoming the first woman managing director of a multinational company in India and chair of many major corporations.

Today, she leads the Lila Poonawalla Foundation with that same boundless determination to help promising young Indian women who lack the money to pursue higher education.

In this video, you can find out more about what inspired her to start the Lila Poonawalla Foundation.

And here you can hear how her partnership with the IKEA Foundation is helping hundreds more young Indian women realise their dreams of going to university.

Thank you for your amazing work, Lila!

Find out more about our partnership with the Lila Poonawalla Foundation on our website – or visit the Lila Poonawalla Foundation’s website to learn more about their scholarships.

Video transcript:

I am Lila Poonawalla. I come from India. I started my foundation for the higher education of girls 17 years ago.

Everyone would like to know what motivated me to start this foundation. To tell you honestly, it’s my own life that inspired me to start this foundation.

I came to my country, India, as a refugee from Pakistan during the Partition time, and we had a very difficult time. We lost my father during the travel, and my mother and siblings had a tough time growing up. We didn’t realise that it was difficult because we were children – we didn’t understand.

But as I grew up and I struggled to find funds to have a higher education, I realised that it’s not easy for girls to get money to go for higher education. And at that time, my heart told me that if I ever earned enough and had the possibility to do something for the education of women, I would start a foundation of my own.

And that’s my inspiration. I got help when I needed it and now I want to help others when they need it.

Video 2:

I am Lila Poonawalla from India and I started my foundation Lila Poonawalla Foundation 17 years ago, and I’m so very happy that the foundation has continued to grow – slowly but surely.

And it was only three years ago, when I started my partnership with IKEA, that my foundation started to grow enormously.

I started with 25 scholarships. This year, thanks to IKEA and similar donors, I am going to be able to support 450 girls. The credit for this is definitely to IKEA’s partnership.

    Juli Riegler