Sandhya Kini Mayenkar


Meet Dr. Sandhya Kini Mayenkar, a shining example of women empowerment in Goa. A resident of Goa’s capital city Panjim, Sandhya is the driving force behind several enterprises including SKM Enterprises, SKM Realtors, SKM Institute of Culinary Arts and Kini Supermarket. She is also involved in the management of Kini Enterprises, which was founded by her father more than 50 years ago. Apart from her entrepreneurial ventures, she also runs the SKM Asha Foundation, an organisation which is dedicated to empowering women by providing them with opportunities for growth and self-improvement.  

Sandhya embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in the year 2012 when she began taking orders for cakes and other dishes from home. Today, she oversees a flourishing culinary institute that offers over 70 courses and has mentored more than 10,000 students in the last decade. Her transformation from a homemaker to a thriving entrepreneur and the founder of a renowned culinary institute is a testament to her unwavering dedication, determination, and hard work.  

From her humble beginnings in Goa, Sandhya gradually went on to expand her work of empowering women to places like  Delhi, across India, and internationally. She has garnered more than 60 awards till date for the work that she has done and epitomizes the new era of a strong, multifaceted woman. Her efforts have sparked a wave of women empowerment in Goa. Her achievements and dedication to her field highlight her as a true epitome of what women can accomplish. Through her work, she has not only broken barriers but also inspired many others to follow in her footsteps. 

Early Years

Born and raised in Goa, Sandhya did her schooling at the prestigious Sharada Mandir High School in Miramar, Panjim. After completing her schooling, she pursued a B.Sc in Home Science from Goa College of Home Science, Panjim and successfully graduated in the year 1998. In the year 2002, she ventured into the world of advertising and began working at an advertising agency called Sandeep Publicity. She spent the next few years working for various ad agencies in Mumbai. After getting married to her husband Viraj Mayenkar, Sandhya moved to Goa for good. She then served as branch head of a reputed advertising agency for 12 years. Following the birth of her second daughter, Sandhya took a break from her career to focus on her children.

Her Entrepreneurial Journey

After quitting her job, Sandhya found a lot of free time on her hands. Driven by her passion for cooking, she started a home-based catering business and began to take orders from people for cakes and cooked meals. Her home enterprise gradually took off and became very popular. 

As years went by, Sandhya noticed that there were many women who wanted to set up their own home-based food enterprises and earn some income while working from home. In a bid to equip such women with the knowledge and skills required to start their own food enterprises, Sandhya decided to start an academy to train women in preparing various kinds of dishes, confections and desserts. This led to the establishment of SKM Institute of Culinary Arts in the year 2013.

Her Institute

Sandhya’s SKM Institute of Culinary Arts is an inclusive school welcoming students of all skill levels. Initially focused on cakes and bakes, the institute now offers a wide range of courses, including courses on how to prepare starters, main courses, desserts, and advanced professional cake decoration. Additionally, there are courses on making natural cosmetics and handmade beauty products offered at the institute. Over the past ten years since its inception, more than 70 new courses have been added to the institute’s long list of offerings.

Most courses offered at SKM Institute are designed to be completed in one day, and Sandhya assures that students can progress to the highest levels of baking through a step-by-step approach. Culinary skills are taught in categories such as cooking, oven techniques, desserts, festive dishes, and preserves. 

Sandhya’s cooking classes attract both beginners as well as professionals looking to enhance their skills. Students from Goa as well as neighbouring states attend Sandhya’s cooking workshops. In the past ten years, Sandhya has trained over 10,000 students at her institute. Most of these students have gone on to start their own commercial ventures from home, and have become financially independent and empowered.

SKM Asha Foundation

Apart from running the SKM Institute, Sandhya also manages the SKM Asha Foundation. This organisation is dedicated to uplifting and empowering women by providing them with opportunities for growth and self-improvement. Sandhya travels throughout Goa, training ladies, housewives, and rural women in Self-Help Groups (SHGs). She teaches them skills that enable them to take home-based orders for food and bakery items, as well as to create and sell homemade products. Additionally, she actively freelances as a teacher, visiting schools to conduct similar workshops for children. Women not only from Goa but also from neighbouring states travel to attend her workshops. Sandhya also leverages her contacts to guide small startups in obtaining various licences and loans.

Other Endeavours

Apart from being an entrepreneur, Sandhya has also carved a name for herself in the field of art. She is a freelance painter by passion and has exhibited her paintings at several art events in different parts of India as well as in countries like Dubai, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

She is also an active humanitarian and has served as a member of the administrative committee of several social welfare organisations. She is the Goa State President of the Women Power Society and the State President for Rashtriya Yuva Sangh. Additionally, she is the former Zonal Head of the Aesthetic International Council for Progressive Women. She has been an active member of Mahila Prashikshan Sansthan and served as the Joint Secretary of an NGO named Suraksha Warriors. She is also a member of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Indian Women Network (IWN), where she addresses various social issues and organizes workshops on women and children’s issues across the state.

Moreover, she is a Patron Member of the Indian Red Cross Society and played a significant role as a COVID-19 warrior, being on the frontline to offer help to the needy during the pandemic. Her dedication to these causes underscores her commitment to making a positive impact on society.

Accolades Received

Sandhya’s outstanding achievements as a self-made entrepreneur and her efforts to uplift and empower other women have earned her a lot of recognition. She was recently  conferred with an Honorary Doctorate for Excellence in Culinary Education and Women Empowerment at the All India Achievers Conference, New Delhi. She was also the recipient of the Goa Star Woman Award 2023 in the Entrepreneur category.

Other notable awards that she has been felicitated  with include the Kalakkar Foundation’s Achievers Award 2018, The National Excellence Award,  Rashtriya Swarnim Hind Puraskar,  Incredible Art & Literature Award for Social Welfare,  Naari Gaurav Samman,  Youth World Indian Icon Award, Inspiring Women of Excellence,  Nari Shakti Samman, India Star Icon, The Business Mint Award, The National Women Excellence Award, Elite Face of the Year, Goa State Brand Leadership Award, Outstanding Achievement Award conferred by Woman TV, Kala Samman Puraskar, and the Guru Dronacharya Award. She was also named as Brand Ambassador for International Pride Women by Kalaakar Foundation in 2019. 

Sandhya’s journey from a homemaker to a successful entrepreneur and founder of a renowned culinary institute is a testament to her dedication, determination, and hard work. She has inspired many women to follow in her footsteps, demonstrating that with passion and perseverance, any dream can be achieved.