A Letter from Chetna
History of Mann Deshi
Mann Deshi Foundation was founded in 1996 by Chetna Gala Sinha in Mhaswad, Maharashtra to empower low-income rural women in gaining more agency in their lives. Early on, one of the women that Chetna worked, Kantabai, narrated a harrowing account of being rejected by several banks when she tried to open an account. Kantabai wanted a safe space to save money to buy tarpaulin sheets to protect her home in the monsoons. Chetna decided to set up a bank exclusively for rural women. In 1997, the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari bank was born. It was the country’s first bank run by and for rural women.
Mann Deshi Sahakari Bank works predominantly with low-income women who are not highly educated and were previously unbanked. Apart from regular banking services such as deposits, pensions and insurance, the bank provides doorstep-banking services. It regularly develops customized finance and credit products to support female micro-entrepreneurs. Mann Deshi was one of the first banks to adopt biometric identification for its account holders.
The Mann Deshi model
Mann Deshi is dedicated to the economic empowerment of rural women. Founded in 1996 in Mhaswad by Chetna Sinha in the drought-prone region of Satara district in Maharashtra, Mann Deshi’s vision is to empower women to make their own choices and to be celebrated as equal and valuable members of their families and communities. Our mission is to empower women with the knowledge, skills, courage, access and capital to become successful entrepreneurs with more control over their lives. To date, the foundation has reached about 300,000 women and by 2022, we aim to reach one million women.
Our model is simple. We run a bank that provides women with affordable and easy access to credit and a Foundation that provides women with the knowledge, skills and support necessary to become successful entrepreneurs with more control over their lives.