About 16 kinds of embroideries are prevalent in Kutch, which are a means of self-expression and are closely linked with the region’s ecology and culture. Shroff’s idea was to package the local, hand-embroidered textiles into garments and lifestyle products for urban and international markets. "I wanted the city money to flow into the villages," says Shroff. ‘Kaki’, as the women affectionately call her, started off with a group of 30; today, she provides sustainable means of livelihood to about 3,000 women from 114 villages.
Shroff’s untiring efforts have made her the first Indian laureate winner of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. She received the award at a high-profile ceremony in Singapore in the presence of the country’s President S.R. Nathan. The Rolex awards, given every two years to five laureates and five associate laureates, were set up in 1976 to celebrate people’s pioneering spirit and ground-breaking initiatives in diverse fields like environment, technology, culture. "It recognises individuals who are advancing human knowledge and well-being," says RAE programme director Rebecca Irvin.