Chetna Gala Sinha : journey of true grit, humility and empathy

When Injustice takes place in society, there are people who close their eyes and pretend nothing has happened but there are other people as well who work in every way possible to make sure that justice is done. Chetna Gala Sinha is one such activist who dedicated her life for women empowerment. 

Chetna Gala Sinha is an activist, a banker and a farmer. She was still a student in Mumbai when she joined the Jayaprakash Narayan movement in the early 1980s. During this movement she travelled through the country advocating land rights and other social issues.

In 1996, Chetna founded the Mann Deshi Foundation in Mhaswad. Mhaswad is a drought-stricken area of Maharashtra. Her aim was to economically and socially empower rural women. 

In 1997, she established the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank. It is India’s first bank for and by rural women.

Today, the Mann Deshi Bank has more than 1 lakh account holders. Moreover it has loaned over $50 million. It regularly generates new financial products to support the needs of female micro-entrepreneurs.

It has received the Microfinance Process Excellence Award in 2006, Best Eco-Tech Bank Award in 2014 by the Indian Bank Association and the  ‘Best Bank Award’ in 2015 by the Maharashtra Urban Cooperative Banks Federation.

Chetna founded the first Business Schools for Rural Women in 2006. She launched the first Chambers of Commerce for women micro-entrepreneurs in the country in 2013. 

She also set up a Community Empowerment Programme for Farmers in 2012 that supported Water Conservation. It has built more than 10 check dams and impacted 50,000 people.

For talented athletes, Mann Deshi Foundation also has a Sports Programme. It also has a women-owned Community Radio that reaches more than 50,000 listeners. 

The National Rural Livelihoods Mission honoured the Mann Deshi Foundation with Best Innovation Award in 2013. Mann Deshi Foundation has supported more than 4 lakh women in India. 

Chetna has received many honours and awards for her incredible work. She was awarded the Ashoka Changemakers Award in 2005, the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award in 2009,EdelGive Social Innovation Honors Award in 2010, Jankidevi Bajaj Award in 2015 for Rural Entrepreneurship. 

Furthermore she has won the Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2013, in 2017, the Forbes Social Entrepreneurs of the Year Award. She was included by Fortune India’s one of the country’s 50 top businesswomen in 2018.

She is the recipient of the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar. It is India’s highest civilian award for women who work in the area of women’s empowerment. She has served as a Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum in 2018 and as a Co-Chair of Financial Inclusion at the W20 Summit in Argentina, 2018. 

Her dedication and courage changed the lives of many women. She is an inspiration for all the women who want to fulfil their dreams. Her journey of true grit, humility and empathy served social justice for women.