Chetna Gala Sinha

Ashoka Fellow
Maharashtra, India
Fellow Since 1996

Citation

This profile was prepared when Chetna Gala Sinha was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Chetna Gala Sinha, an experienced farmer, is establishing the various elements necessary to develop a culture of microenterprise among women in the inaccessible, drought-prone areas of Maharashtra in Western India. Her plan has strategic components to allow access to cattle and land, hone entrepreneurial skills, increase earnings, and develop local markets.

The main component of Chetna's design is a Women's Bank (Mahila Bank). At a time when microcredit schemes have become a cornerstone of development policy, one of the distinctive qualities of her bank is that it does not confine itself to making loans but also puts into place the infrastructures needed to develop entrepreneurial success and assets among women. It also has established creative measures for bringing money into the bank as well as lending from it. The Bank is the vehicle through which women in this drought stricken area can develop their learning potential so that remaining in their rural area becomes a more viable and sustainable option. It also reduces their dependence on their men-folk, who migrate in large numbers in search of employment when the land fails to support them. Women have historically been the repositories of traditional skills and, as a result of migration from rural areas, have emerged as the de facto wage-earners for their families. The Bank sponsors projects that emphasize these traditional skills and make them more effective through the introduction of technical assistance. In the process, the women in this area have achieved a comprehensive improvement of their potential as equal participants and decision- makers in the market, the home, and local government.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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