The first cooperative bank for women in rural India.
This bank was set up by women and exclusively for women. The Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank was set up in 1997 after Kantabai, a welder who worked and lived with her family on the footpath in Mhaswad, rural Maharashtra, approached the founder, Chetna Sinha, and narrated a harrowing account of being rejected by several banks when she tried to open an account. Kantabai simply wanted a safe space to save some money so she could buy tarpaulin sheets to protect her home in the monsoons. Chetna wanted to set up a bank for women like Kantabai. 1,335 women pooled their savings (7.8 lakhs) and set up the first bank for and by rural women in India. It remains a member-driven and member-owned bank.
While the Bank was initially started as a safe space for rural women to save their money, it has grown and evolved.
Their focus has remained on supporting women to control their finances and grow their incomes. They are one of the first banks that provided doorstep banking services, electronic passbooks, micro-enterprise loans, and insurance schemes.
The Foundation for additional business support and training refers entrepreneurs who come to the Bank for working capital loans to the Business Schools run.
Likewise, graduates from business schools are provided loans by the Bank to set up and expand their enterprises.