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  project name ~ Mann Deshi 2011

category ~ Women Empowerment




  Project Name


Mann Deshi 2011



Mann Vikas Samajik Sanstha (MVSS)



Women Empowerment







  Budget Approved


Rs 175000


  Year Approved







1   2  

  Chapter Coordinators


Shruti Vyas












MVSS uses the same holistic approach that AID believes in and works on many aspects of development in the rural areas of Mhaswad. They have helped set up many Self Help groups, the microfinance bank (MDMB), education inititatives for the youth and elders, health care and insurance, organic farming among others. Chetna Gala Sinha, the founder of MVSS, has been given lifetime membership in the Ashoka Innovators for the Public program. She has also received many awards of which the most recent is the Janaki Devi Bajaj Puraskar in 2005.

The microfinance bank is a cooperative bank operating under license from the RBI. It is also a bank run by women for women.





Chetna Gala Sinha, the founder of MVSS and an economist by background, moved to Mhaswad district when she married her husband, Vijay (an activist himself), who was a farmer from Mhaswad. Here she was struck by the situation of women since the area saw a lot of migration of men (due to drought and lack of jobs) while the women were left to look after themselves and their children. Chetna set-up the NGO MVSS and initially started Self Help Groups (SHG) and microcredit activity for the women. She learnt that the women''''''''s major concern was the lack of income-generating assets. In the agrarian and entirely rain-dependent economy of the district, most men and women worked as daily wage laborers in agricultural fields. During drought, when no farming takes place the workers were left with no employment avenues. Therefore SHG participants were encouraged to collect Rs 5 or Rs 10 on a weekly basis per person and the amount was then lent to a member woman to buy an asset (usually cattle). This asset helped the women earn a steady income and save up some money for emergencies. The SHG movement spawned several small entrepreneurs including street vendors, weavers, sheep/goat rearers and dairy product sellers. There also was an explosion in the number of SHGs (more than 300 with close to 10,000 members ) that spread out. The self-help group experience gave the women confidence. If they could run a microcredit program efficiently, they thought, why couldn’t they start a bank? Chetna, along with SHG leaders, approached the Reserve Bank of India for a license to start a women''''''''s bank. The RBI rejected the proposal outright because many of the women were illiterate. This rejection was a setback, and the women immediately called a meeting and all those who could not read or write, attended regular classes. After one month they met with the RBI deputy governor and convinced him with their determination and their demonstration of rapid calculation of interests on loans. Thus, they obtained a banking license in February 1997. On August 9, 1997, Mann Deshi Mahila Bank, India’s first rural women’s bank, opened for business. The institution’s main objective was to empower women, but it also had to compete as a bank. The initial capital was raised by individual contributions from the women and they raised Rs. 600,000! Prior to Mann Deshi Mahila Bank, women in this area had no financial options other than taking emergency loans from money lenders at exorbitant rates of interest. Now women take loans from the bank to start new businesses and to develop productive assets. If women control the finances, the entire family benefits as more money is spent on children, education, and household necessities: this has been the primary learning in the history of the NGO and the sister concern, MDMB. The bank and MVSS work in partnership to stimulate the achievement of social goals through projects in the areas of economic well-being, education and health. The organizations work hand-in-hand with the villagers and products and training are given based on research and requests from their clients. The belief is that change should not be imposed but brought about from within the masses. Listed below are some specific achievements: 1. In 2004, MVSS and its partner, the Mann Deshi Mahila bank convinced the Revenue Department of Maharashtra to include the woman''''''''s name on stamp papers for joint registration of immovable property. MVSS and the Bank have helped these women obtain stamped papers in their name, guaranteeing them property shares. 2. Instituted a project that enrolls young women in vocational training, including classes in marketing, accounting, and procurement. It also offers a combination of grants and loans for students in need of financial aid. 3. The Freedom Ride Program: In rural areas, the cost of transportation from village homes to schools can be significant. As a result, many children – in particular, young girls – drop out of school. Freedom Ride is an innovative program that seeks to keep girls in school by giving them bicycles. Freedom Ride provides girls with bicycles as a no-interest loan (MVSS and MDMB partners).





MVSS seeks to improve the quality of life of women and their families living in the rural areas of western Maharashtra. To achieve this, MVSS runs various projects through a partnership with its sister organization, the Mann Deshi Mahila Bank (MDMB), a registered microfinance bank. MVSS also works closely with the Mann Deshi Mahila Bachat Gat Federation, or Federation of Self-Help Groups. The Federation consists of more than two hundred self-help groups, which are made up of self-employed women like vegetable vendors, milk sellers, and weavers. In partnership, these three organizations aim to stimulate the achievement of social goals – empowerment, asset creation, leadership development, capacity building, and property rights for women – through projects in the areas of economic well-being, education and health. Taken together, these projects constitute a holistic approach to helping women in rural areas – one that combines economic activity with the educational tools and health care that is necessary to lead a productive life.



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