Chetna Gala Sinha
at the World Economic Forum in 2018
|Known for||microfinance bank|
Chetna Gala Sinha is an Indian social activist working to empower women in drought prone areas of rural India by teaching entrepreneurial skills and providing them access to land and other means of production. Chetna Sinha and six other women chaired the 48th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on 23–26 January 2018.
Sinha grew up in Mumbai in the ’70s and ’80s in the heyday of political activism. While in college—she did her BCom and has a master’s in economics from Mumbai University—she was drawn to Jayaprakash Narayan’s brand of socialist politics.
She suffered her first setback when the RBI rejected her application, in 1996, on the grounds that some of the promoting members were non-literate. Sinha came back to the village dejected, but the other villagers pushed her to organise literacy classes. In five months, Sinha went back to the RBI with a fresh application and the women in tow.
She is the founder and chairperson of the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahkari Bank, a microfinance bank which lends to women in rural areas. She is also the founder and president of the Mann Deshi Foundation. Mann Deshi Mahila Sahkari Bank was the first bank in the country for and by rural women to get a cooperative license from Reserve Bank of India(RBI). In the two decades since the bank was set up (in 1997) with a working capital of ₹7,08,000 raised from among its 1,335 members, it has reached over 3,10,000 women (84,000 among them borrowers), providing them with the financial backing and emotional impetus to become successful entrepreneurs.
The drive remained relevant even after two decades, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation last November, leaving the local vendors in the lurch: Some sold their wares for whatever they could, way below the market prices, some others gave away their ₹500 notes for a lower value. Mann Deshi officials collected coins from the State Bank of India and went from door-to-door and in the weekly markets to exchange them for old ₹500 notes.
The Mann Deshi Foundation also runs financial literacy classes, where women are taught the ropes of savings, investing, insurances and loans through modules that comprise games like Monopoly. According to the Foundation, there has been an increase of ₹13,200 in the average annual income of rural women after they’ve taken business development classes at the school.
Chetna Sinha and six other women chaired the 48th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on 23–26 January 2018. The exclusive women's team included: Sharan Burrow, general-secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Belgium; Fabiola Gianotti, director-general, European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), Geneva, Switzerland; Isabelle Kocher, CEO, ENGIE, France; Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund, Washington DC; Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and chief executive officer, IBM Corporation, US; and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway.
She is an Ashoka fellow.
Awards and recognition
"Entrepreneurship Development Award" on 29 July 2010 by Entrepreneurs’ International, Pune.
Chetna Sinha received the first Godfrey Phillips Bravery Amodini Award on 11 September 2009 by Godfrey Phillips.
Chetna Sinha received "Rani Laxmiibai Puraskar" on 7 March 2009 from Cyclo Transmissions Ltd., Satara. This award is given to the women who have done outstanding work in various fields.
Jankidevi Bajaj Puraskar Award for Rural Entrepreneurship 2005.
Shri Nanaji Deshamukh and the Rajiv Sheth Sabale Foundation Award 1999 presented by for work completed with drought-affected women. Governor of Maharashtra Shri P. C. Alexander Award 1994 for work in development.
Forbes India Leadership Award 2017: Entrepreneur With Social Impact 
Chetna is the mother of three sons and lives in Mhaswad, where Mann Deshi Mahila Bank has its headquarters.
Mann Deshi Bank
Mann Deshi Mahila Sahkari Bank is a microfinance bank which lends to women in rural areas. In response to the demonetisation of 500 and 1000 rupee banknotes by the Indian government, Mann Deshi bank is now helping rural people by providing 500 rupees of coin in exchange for 500 rupee notes. In this crisis of demonetization of paper currency the people most affected are those in rural areas. Mann Deshi Bank also has a business school on wheels through which it provides training to rural women. 
- "Chetna Gala Sinha—innovative activist, and a visionary banker". DNA. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
- "Chetna Gala Sinha: The silent crusader | Forbes India". Forbes India. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
- Shanoor Seervai. "Bank Built for Women Blooms in India". THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
- "Chetna Gala Sinha | Ashoka - India". india.ashoka.org. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
- "Chetna Sinha receives Jankidevi Bajaj award". Retrieved 20 December 2016.
- TEDx Talks (2013-12-31), Mann Deshi Bank -- the first bank & B-school for rural women: Chetna Gala Sinha at TEDxGateway 2013, retrieved 2018-08-11
- "TED2018: The Age of Amazement | April 10–14, 2018 | Vancouver, BC, Canada". ted2018.ted.com. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
- "Chetna Gala Sinha: The silent crusader | Forbes India". Forbes India. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
- "This Bank Came up with an Innovative Solution to Help Daily Wage Earners Tackle Demonetisation". Yahoo News. The Better India. Retrieved 20 December 2016.