Meet five inspiring women from the Aidha program who have empowered themselves with education to pursue their business dreams
We’ve long been fans of Aidha, a non-profit that provides training programmes to foreign domestic workers in financial literacy and self-development. Since the program launched in 2006, thousands of helpers have graduated and put themselves (and their families) on the path to a more stable financial future.
Curious about what your helper could gain from an Aidha education? We recently met four former helpers who’ve graduated the program and returned to their home countries to start their own businesses. From a thriving tea business to an NGO and popular hair salon, these women are doing truly amazing things, and we are SO inspired. (We’ve also included one current helper and Aidha student to find out how Aidha has already shaped her outlook on the future!)
Scroll through our gallery to meet these five amazing women!
I’m Nilushika Jayaweera, a former FDW, a proud Aidha graduate, and a businesswoman.
I was 20 when I came to Singapore from Sri Lanka to work as a domestic helper to support my siblings. I worked here for 16 years but it was only in 2011 when I enrolled in a financial literacy course at Aidha that I began rebuilding my life.
Through Aidha, I realised that empowerment and education are crucial to a brighter future for women. I learnt that leadership is about awareness, choice and responsibility. I had to learn to believe in myself and to shake off the labels that were assigned to me. With this knowledge and the right entrepreneurship skills, I turned my dream into a reality. I returned to Sri Lanka in November 2016, and started my own online tea business, Nilu Tea. I’ve also now set up an NGO, Emerging Hope Lanka, with a mission to empower women by helping to them to start their own micro businesses in rural Sri Lanka.
If I can give you one piece of advice, it’s this: As fast as each opportunity presents itself, use it. No matter how small an opportunity is, it can be the next adventure of your life. We explore and learn new things to lighten our path for a better future. Whatever you believe inside, is what you manifest outside.
My name is Ritchelle D. Mantiquilla and I’m 40 years old.
My journey with Aidha started in 2014 when I enrolled in Module 1 and then graduated in 2016 after completing Module 2. I left Singapore in 2018 to launch my business, ARitz Kitchenette in the Philippines.
I joined Aidha because I didn’t want to confine myself to my job alone, so I grabbed the opportunity to study and learn to plan for my future and for my kids’ as well.
Aidha has been my greatest pillar in learning financial management, entrepreneurial skills, and most of all, friendship and empowerment. Like many careers, domestic work is tough and challenging. There are uncertainties ahead which might bring failures and frustrations if we are not financially educated. With Aidha, I put together my business plan and started implementing it two months after I left my job!
I have one piece of advice for my fellow FDWs in terms of financial education and planning for the future: Plan and act while you are still young and active. While you’re still earning and have an opportunity to learn and study. Invest in educating yourselves, discover your potential, and know your rights. Focus on your goals and visions in life. For what doesn’t kill you will make you strong and brave. So don’t be afraid to try new things, and never stop learning.
I’m Seng Ra from Myanmar, and I’m 33 years old.
I graduated from Aidha in 2015 and returned to Myanmar for good in 2017. I then started my own ladies’ fashion and cosmetics store, Lady Shop, which has been open now for a year and a half.
The courses I took at Aidha were key to my success. They prepared me for becoming a businesswoman and taught me many lessons about running a business. I created my business plan and learnt how to manage my shop. I also learnt about the importance of cash flow and how to manage my personal spending so that I can save and invest my money for retirement.
To all the other helpers, you should learn from Aidha without wasting time before you go home because they will help you in so many ways. Aidha will help you to find your dream, to manage your finances and teach you how to start your own business. I will tell all of you; your future will be bright for sure with Aidha.
I’m Tumini, an Aidha graduate and a business owner from Indonesia.
I’m now 42 and I have a hairdressing salon, Mini’s Salon in Indonesia, which has been open for 1 year and 4 months. I was able to open it thanks to what I learnt at Aidha.
Aidha gave me knowledge, strength and confidence to become an independent woman. Specific things that I learnt were to save money, manage cash flow and think about business strategy. My mentors and friends from different countries also helped me make my dreams come true.
When I first started my business, it was a bit hard. However, I used the advice from my Aidha mentor, Mr. Angelo, who told me to be friendly and ask people what they need for hairdressing. Everyday, I calculate what I have earned and I manage my cash flow — then I know how my business is performing and can plan for the future.
For my friends in Singapore: if you have a dream, go for it. It’s never too late to start something that you love and want, if you never try you will never know. It’s hard work but if you work hard you can make it. Even if you only have a small amount of money, be brave and don’t give up. I’m now very happy back home!
My name is Vita Andini, and I’m from Indonesia. I’m 26 and I’ve been working in Singapore for over 2 years.
I started attending Aidha in June 2018 and it was actually unexpected how I found them. I saw a Facebook advertisement for a workshop at the Google and Facebook offices. Being a millennial, I think it’s kinda cool so I signed up for Aidha’s Module 1 course and now I’m enrolling in Module 2.
For me personally, I find that Aidha is more than financial education. Apart from being able to save money for my future and learn basic computer skills, I learn much more every time I go to school. I’m exposed to new thinking, different opinions and I’m more grateful for being who I am.
So Aidha has given me the confidence to believe in myself. I run my blog called Cornerve that I set up four months after joining Aidha. It will be my playground to display my ideas and build my own name and brands before launching my products publicly. I also support Bali Street Kids Project through crowdfunding and work with my mentor, Miss Laura Zaccaria, the founder of Yoga for a Change, to raise money for them.
Another big help are my employers. They’re supportive and give me study time and let me create and develop my products!
Want to get involved with Aidha? Click here for more information!