For Women Entrepreneurs, Courage is the Capital – Chetna Sinha, Founder-Chairperson of the Mann Deshi Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation
GoBarefoot, a professional networking platform exclusively catering to the Development sector, by facilitating connections and exchange of ideas and information, has collaborated with Katalyst India and Third Sector Partners to present “Leadership Conversations in the Development Sector”, a series of insightful interviews conducted by Shital Kakkar Mehra, India’s leading executive presence coach and Founder at GoBarefoot. Featuring seasoned and reputed leaders from various verticals of the social sector, the series offers a peek behind the scenes and helps viewers find answers to the most pressing questions facing the sector.
Dedicated to the economic empowerment of rural women, Chetna Gala Sinha’s Mann Deshi Bank offers women easy and affordable access to credit. Throughout her journey focused on enabling rural women entrepreneurs, Sinha has realised that the only capital the women have is their courage and, when they share this courage, they can uplift entire communities. Sinha is vehement in her belief that the small-town stereotypes forced upon women need to be broken and states that when people acknowledge and celebrate such events, the society at large will adapt to the idea of empowered women. She further said that men must participate equally in child rearing and family upbringing responsibilities to enable women in pursuing their professional dreams.
Leadership evolution over the last decade
While the development sector was previously considered soft and feminine, it has now expanded, enhanced and even changed the parameters guiding the mainstream sector. Indeed, the development sector has become imperative to the survival of the mainstream sector, with the latter adopting aspects like accountability, ownership, and impact-driven ideas from the former. Boundaries between the sectors are blurring because the value inherent in the social sector is not just for the poor. Rather, it is impacting real wealth creation across segments.
Mentorship for leaders
Even as new age leaders are coming to the fore, there is a strong need for networks and mentorship for founders as it can be a lonely road to the top. Everybody likes to hear about success stories but it is difficult to fight rejections and work towards success without a support system. While persistence can help us achieve great success, the actual journey requires collaboration and partnership. Discussions and mentorship opportunities can create a much-needed solidarity in the sector.
During the pandemic, the development sector was involved in every aspect, from relief work to feeding labourers and managing hospitals and the healthcare system at large. Corporate leadership stood with the development sector and India could breathe because the development sector led the charge. We could reach the last mile population because we are the closest to them and we know the pulse of the ground zero populace. The development sector previously shied away from scaling up because we thought we lacked the capacity but the pandemic equipped us with leadership experience and we are now ready to scale up and lead from the front, while collaborating with the government and the corporate sector.
Importance of technology
Having a digital source of money is important. We believe that women need to buy smartphones, for business and their children’s education, and Mann Deshi offers loans to enable this purchase. The development sector is now designing products to help women access technology but the change needs to come from a policy level. Digital knowledge is necessary and we must work towards filling the digital gap as mere awareness building is not enough.
Read our previous conversation with Deepali Khanna, Managing Director, Asia Regional Office, The Rockefeller Foundation here.