Founder and Chairperson, Mann Deshi Bank and Foundation
CHETNA GALA SINHA
Founder and Chairperson,
Mann Deshi Bank and Foundation
An economist, farmer and activist, Chetna Gala Sinha works for social change in some of the poorest and most drought-stricken areas of rural India. Born in Mumbai, Sinha abandoned the urban lifestyle to pursue a career in farming in the drought-prone area of Maharashtra in Western India. As a result, she experienced first-hand the difficulties facing women in this region, from the lack of financial support to the fact that they were not treated as viable entrepreneurs. She went on to develop India’s first rural co-operative bank owned by women.
The Mann Deshi Mahila Bank, a micro-enterprise development bank, works with low-income women and provides business loans. Sinha also established a business school for rural women that provides training in entrepreneurial skills. Since 1996, Sinha has been organizing women in rural areas of Maharashtra in the fight for land and housing property rights and launched a community radio station, providing a valuable platform for information sharing and creative self-expression.
Sinha is also behind the unique new “Mann Deshi Chamber of Commerce with toll free number” initiative and “Finance Company” for rural women. Mann Deshi aims to launch one million rural women entrepreneurs through partnerships with social enterprises and mainline financial institutions in India.
Considering Sinha’s great contribution to the holistic cause of female empowerment, India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development has nominated her as a member of the Governing Board (GB) of Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK). She was also named India Social Entrepreneur of the Year for her work with Mann Deshi and in 2014, was named a Schwab Foundation Entrepreneur of the Year.