Empowering Rural Women in India

Partnership with Mann Deshi Foundation reaches more than 6,000 girls

Established in 1996, the Mann Deshi Foundation empowers rural women with training, capacity building, skills development, awareness programmes and information sharing, alongside Mann Deshi Bank’s financial service offerings.

Mann Deshi Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation are independent institutions with a similar mission and vision. Mann Deshi Bank, one of India’s largest women’s cooperative banks, is run by women, for women. It delivers a range of financial services, such as loans, savings, pension and insurance products, to unbanked, rural Indian women with very limited formal education, enabling them to finance their own businesses and to purchase property. Since the bank has been established, they have supported over 200,000 women in Maharashtra. Mann Deshi Bank and the Foundation work in parallel to provide 360-degree solutions to empower rural women and enable them to become successful entrepreneurs.

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) began its partnership with Mann Deshi in 2010 to support women through open, distance and technology-enabled learning, using community radio, print and mobile schools. This partnership has resulted in the delivery of courses on agricultural credit, financial inclusion and financial literacy to over 10,000 farmers, and women involved in agriculture, on a daily basis in Maharashtra.

Through COL’s GIRLS Inspire initiative, with funding from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, COL and Mann Deshi have been able to reach over 6,000 girls with life skills, vocational skills and community radio training.

The one-year project aimed to address the barriers to girls’ education, including mobilizing community members through consultation and participation, and creating safe and accessible learning environments. It encouraged the economic empowerment of girls and women, assisting 490 girls and women to open bank accounts and 312 girls and women to find income generating opportunities. 

Photos courtesy of Mann Deshi Foundation.