Today for the first episode of the new season of Better Business Founder, I am  thrilled to share with you my conversation with Ihita Shandilya, Founder and CEO of MITHILAsmita, an award-winning social enterprise in India.

Ihita’s entrepreneurial journey is really inspiring. 

After her grandmother passed away she quit a high-flying corporate job and invested her savings to focus on the development and promotion of the ancient Indian art form called Mithila Paintings.

MITHILAsmita does not only provide jobs to women in rural India but also aims to keep Mithila’s paintings ALIVE, so this tradition could be passed onto future generations 

And most importantly, this business strives to reinforce the pride of this heritage art form, as MITHILAsmita means Mithilas’s pride.

In this conversation, Ihita will walk us through the journey of building this business from the ground up and what she is doing now, everyday, to make it become more resilient so it could create more value to people and to the world.

This conversation made me ponder on the power of a small business. 

There are so many learnings from Ihita's approach with Mithila's paintings that we could benefit from in the universal challenge of preserving the heritage of ancient art form

This is a real challenge, wherever you are in the world. I really love this conversation and I hope you will too.

Please welcome Ihita Shandilya


ON Madhubani Paintings also known as Mithila Paintings, an Ancient Art Form practiced by Women  (2:59)  

ON Ihita’s late Grandmother using this form of Art as a tool to bring a change in this part of the world (4:24)

ON learnings from spending childhood at Grandmother’s NGO (4:53)

ON the realization of the challenges of being women and continuing the work of her Grandmother (5:55)

ON looking for more sustainable sources of revenue (8:18)

ON the idea of evolving from an NGO to a Social Enterprise in order to help the system support the artisans in a way that they support our existence on this planet (9:07)  

ON adding value and meaning to corporate gifting (10:25)  

ON using artisans work onto fashion items (12:16)  

ON the challenges of switching from NGO model to a social business model & change of mindset (15:19)  

ON a hybrid model to support the vision (19:03) 

ON MITHILAsmita international expansion (21:00)  

ON Ihita definition of success: creating a system that holds the vision of creating sustainable livelihood for artisans and their creativity (22:45)  

ON Ihita’s vision of the world for her children: knowledge and appreciation of traditional art forms as the expression of timeless beauty and emotion (24:29)  

ON MITHILAsmita near future development: international expansion  (26:48) 


CONNECT WITH Ihita Shandilya


Connect on WhatsApp: +91 9901187800 

BUY from MITHILAsmita: ArtnHer



Madhubani is a town municipality and headquarter of Madhubani district. Madhubani is situated in the Indian state of Bihar.

Mithila Paintings

ACUMEN fellowship 

UN Women Empowerment Principles award


🎧 Listen to more inspiring stories:

👀 Read our recent articles:

With Founder's Compass become more creative with a weekly digest that brings fresh, possibilistic perspectives on how independent businesses can drive systemic change and fuel a better tomorrow

Join our growing community of change-makers. No spam, ever