THE World Economic Forum (WEF) has taken note of Satara-based entrepreneur Chetna Sinha for her work in the social sector and has included her in a list of 15 women who have changed the world.
A write-up features Sinha among other inspiring women involved with the World Economic Forum work. An astronaut, an executive campaigning for gay rights at work, scientists and social entrepreneurs are part of this global group.
“I am happy that I have been featured as there are different perceptions in the West about Indian women. I am glad the WEF recognised the entrepreneurship programme and our programme sees nearly 27,000 women setting up a business every day,” said Sinha.
Born in Mumbai, Sinha abandoned the urban lifestyle to pursue a career in farming in drought-prone Mann area of Satara district in Pune division. Here she got to understand the difficulties facing women of the region, from the lack of financial support to the fact that they are not treated as viable entrepreneurs. Slowly but steadily, Sinha went on to develop India’s first rural co-operative bank owned by women.
The Mann Deshi Mahila Bank is a micro-enterprise development bank working with low-income women, which provides business loans. She established a business school for rural women to provide training in entrepreneurial skills. Since 1996, Sinha has been organising women in rural areas of Maharashtra in the fight for land and property rights and she launched a community radio station, providing a platform for sharing information. She set up a toll-free hotline linked to India’s Chamber of Commerce to give rural women financial advice. Mann Deshi aspires to launch 1 million rural women entrepreneurs through partnerships with social enterprises and mainline financial institutions in India.
Sinha was named India Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 for her work with Mann Deshi, and a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014.
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