When CSI first joined the Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN), we knew it was going to unlock opportunities for an underserved group of women: women who traditionally faced barriers to access to entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and business support, and women who have solutions that put people and the planet first.
This week, we are thrilled to announce the publication of a report detailing exactly how WOSEN fosters the growth of women-led social enterprise. To celebrate the report, we are also sharing a series of stories on our program participants in collaboration with our WOSEN network partners: Pillar Nonprofit Network, SVX, and NORDIK Institute‘s Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.
Meet Dipti Swain.
Written by: Natalie Shore
“Stronger and happier families make a better and healthier society. There is no growth or happiness without healthy emotional, mental and spiritual connections”, says Dipti Swain who is on a mission to cultivate peace, joy and togetherness in homes. Dipti is the founder of U&Me Ritual and invented Mindful Diya, a tool that helps family members to relax, restore and rejoice together.
“Growing up in India, my family didn’t have a lot of money, but we had real, meaningful connections. We didn’t leave it to chance, rather we valued and cultivated these connections in our daily life. We practiced peace, joy and togetherness through family mindfulness rituals.
Every evening we would light up a lamp (Diya) and sitting around it, we would meditate, pray, and share life stories. Those were my favourite memories in life, that made me smile on good days and guided me towards light on tough days.” says Dipti.
Mindful Diya is a testament to the gift Dipti inherited from her grandmother. It would serve Dipti early in life as a bountiful source of family joy and security. And later, when Dipti underwent a period of disconnect and hopelessness, she would have this method for bringing light and well-being back into her life.
“When I look back, I see how everything in my life was preparing me to help families restore their connection with each other. The strength of deep connection and emotional security I cherish, I am doing my part passing it on to others.” expresses Dipti.
Dipti left home with the desire to see the world and have different experiences. She became an engineer, received her MBA in finance and entered the field of investment banking. Life brought her to New York, and then to Toronto, and afforded her many things that she’d wanted. At the same time constant busyness in non-meaningful activities piled up tower-high. Slowly, the connections she had once felt with her husband and with her own sense of purpose became lost in its shadow. When Dipti spoke of her unhappiness, others were quick to relate however they seemed resigned to it. They said “this is life.”
Dipti was not okay to settle with “this is life.” She left her job and leaned on to her mindfulness practices spending two months away doing meditation and self-reflection. When she returned home she was committed to reviving the healthier emotional connection using the tradition she’d grown up with. Every evening, she and her husband booked time to connect – not to talk about projects or everyday tasks, but to breathe, reflect and share about their dreams, favourite people and funny or memorable moments of their lives.
“That changed our relationship completely over a few months. We laughed more, listened, paid attention and got to know each other more… And it just felt like we belonged again.” says Dipti.
Once again seeing how central strong family bonds are to well-being, Dipti recognized a need for a tool that made forming and maintaining them easier for people – as easy as turning on the TV. This is where her entrepreneurial journey began.The tool she developed, “Mindful Diya”, took the form of a lamp and guided family members to relax, restore and rejoice together. This was where Dipti’s journey came to a full circle. Now it is about keeping that circle bright, a halo of light expanding around other families.
She encourages us to look not only at the individual who is struggling, but their families and ecosystem that can grow together toward emotional and mental health wellbeing. The beauty of that is a magical ripple effect. As Dipti puts it:
“Let’s build stronger families, so we can have stronger societies.”