Chetna Sinha is the Founder-Chairperson of the Mann Deshi Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation.
Chetna Gala Sinha is an activist, farmer and banker. She is the recipient of the Nari Shakti Puraskar, India’s highest civilian award for women who work in the area of women’s empowerment. She is a member of the BRICS women’s business alliance. She has served as a Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum in Davos (2018), Switzerland and as a Co-Chair of Financial Inclusion at the W20 Summit (2018) in Argentina.
Chetna founded the Mann Deshi Foundation in 1996 in Mhaswad, a drought- stricken area of Maharashtra, with the aim of economically and socially empowering rural women. In1997, she set up the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank-India’s first bank for and by rural women.
Today, the Mann Deshi Bank has 100,000 account holders, has loaned over $70 million and regularly creates new financial products to support the needs of female micro-entrepreneurs.
In 2006, Chetna founded the first Business Schools for Rural Women and in 2013, she launched a toll-free help line and the first Chambers of Commerce for women micro-entrepreneurs in the country. In 2012, she set up a Community Empowerment Programme for Farmers that supports Water Conservation. It has built 17 check dams and impacted 50,000 people. Mann Deshi Foundation also has a Sports Programme for talented athletes (2012) and a women-owned Community Radio (2008) that reaches over 100,000 listeners. In 2013, Mann Deshi Foundation was awarded the Best Innovation Award by the National Rural Livelihoods Mission. Mann Deshi runs Business Schools, a Community Radio and a Chambers of Commerce for rural women micro entrepreneurs. To date, it has supported more than 650,000 women.
Chetna Sinha has received many accolades for her work. She has been awarded the 2005 Jankidevi Bajaj Award for Rural Entrepreneurship, the 2005 Ashoka Change makers Award, the 2009 Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award, and the 2010 EdelGive Social Innovation Honors. She has won the 2013 Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the 2017 Forbes Social Entrepreneurs of the Year Award and was ranked by Fortune India as one of the country’s 50 top business women in 2018.
Chetna Sinha has been instrumental in driving significant policy changes and the Reserve Bank of India, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, and several other national planning and regulatory institutions regularly seek her advice on financial inclusion. She is on several national boards including the National Advisory Panel for Niti-Ayog’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Cell (since 2018) and the Advisory Committee of the Reserve Bank of India’s Financial Inclusion Strategy (2019-2024).
In November 2017, she was awarded the Forbes Social Entrepreneurs of the Year Award. In January 2018, she served as a Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Later in 2018, she was awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar – the highest civilian award for women in India – by the President of India.
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