Financial Inclusion & Women Empowerment, Chetna Sinha, Ashoka Fellow
The Portman Lecture in the Spirit of Entrepreneurship: Chetna Sinha, Founder, Mann Deshi Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation, to discuss social entrepreneurship model for women in India
Mann Deshi targets to impact one million women entrepreneurs by 2020. Mann Deshi has a unique model - i.e., Mann Deshi Bank and B-School for rural women that works together to help women set up and scale up their enterprise. The objective of Mann Deshi Bank and B-School is to see that women have control over finance, property, and knowledge.
An economist, farmer, and activist, Chetna Sinha works for social change in some of the poorest and most drought-stricken areas of rural India. She is the founder and president of the Mann Deshi Mahila Bank, a micro-enterprise development bank. The Bank’s clients are low-income women with incomes averaging INR 40 (USD 1.00) per day. The Bank currently has seven branches, over 185,000 clients, and conducts 10,000 transactions daily. Because of the Bank’s success, Chetna’s advice on financial inclusion and women’s banking has been sought by the Federal Reserve Bank of India.
Through the Mann Deshi Bank and its non-profit sister organization, the Mann Deshi Foundation, Chetna uses a holistic approach to help her clients – one that combines economic activity with the educational tools and health care necessary to lead a productive life. Since 2006, Chetna has partnered with global organizations such as HSBC, British Asia Trust, Accenture, the Clinton Global Initiative, GIZ, Deutsche Bank, Bonita Trust, the Commonwealth of Learning and Global Giving to develop corporate community partnership programs which allow the corporate sector in the U.S. and Europe to gain a unique view of the impact that micro-finance initiatives have on the local rural population.
Chetna has been working with marginalized communities since 1986. She started by organizing women in rural areas of Maharashtra to fight for land and housing property rights. Since then, the foundation she established has launched a community radio station that provides a platform for information sharing and creative self-expression among members of the community of Mhaswad. The Mann Deshi Foundation additionally provides an extraordinary self-development opportunity to rural girls and boys through Mann Deshi Champion Sports Program. Chetna is also behind the unique new “Mann Deshi Chamber of Commerce with toll free number” and “Finance Company” for rural women. With help from these additional institutions, Chetna aims to support one million women entrepreneurs by 2020.
Chetna Sinha, named Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 for India by Palaniappan Chidambaram, Finance Minister of India on 11th November, 2013. She has been honored with the 2005 Jankidevi Bajaj Puraskar award for rural entrepreneurship. She has also been awarded lifetime membership with Ashoka Innovators for the Public, and was selected for the first class of Yale University’s World Fellows program in 2002-3.