Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nivi Jaswal, Founder, and President of The Virsa Foundation Inc., located in Lincoln, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I run a 501c3 nonprofit based in the Boston, MA, area with a focus on behavioral research, content creation, and podcasting for the cause of public health and planetary health. I have created a platform called the JIVINITI Program that acts as a multi-dimensional platform for our U.S. and global advocacy work. We believe that plant-powered lifestyle change is the only way to a more sustainable planet and a compassionate world.
Our target audiences are research professionals and grassroots advocates with an interest in plant-based lifestyle change, lifestyle medicine, the ethical philosophy of Veganism, planetary health, and public health, sustainable food systems, intersectionality and diversity, equity & inclusion.
Tell us about yourself
I quit the corporate world after 15 years in consumer packaged goods, medical devices, and market research sectors. Exploring a whole food plant-based lifestyle helped me heal physically and emotionally from chronic illness and severe ketogenic exhaustion. Subsequently, in the Fall of 2018, I launched my nonprofit, initially to help empower rural women artisans in northwestern India, and then during the pandemic - pivoting towards more U.S.-based advocacy and research. I launched a petition to the Biden-Harris administration to include pandemic-specific nutrition guidance that emphasized noninflammatory foods, formed a women-led coalition, ran a monthly podcast for JaneUnChainedNews Network, and launched two research projects. Leading a values-aligned life and committing myself to planetary health and healing motivates me every single day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a nonprofit owner, there are several aspects of my work that I'm incredibly proud of. In particular, our latest public health research project, where over 50 grassroots organizations around the United States came together to help us with data collection, resulted in a far larger and more robust nationwide sample than initially anticipated.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a nonprofit owner, it is extremely challenging to identify and receive funding and grants for research on topics that are yet to receive endorsement and recognition in mainstream research. Also, women of color-led small nonprofits tend to receive very little funding and capital inflows as compared to those led by other groups; hence, inclusivity in terms of funding opportunities continues to be a challenge.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Have clarity of vision, be creative, and network a lot! Seeking your tribe is key.
- Be prepared to fail and be rejected; stay tenacious and persistent despite it all.
- Explore all opportunities and challenge your own internal limiting beliefs. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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