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Chetna Gala Sinha: The Flag-Bearers

Meet a new class of disruptive women leaders who are breaking barriers and redefining the future

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Chetna Gala Sinha| Rural Push

Chetna Gala Sinha has several facets to her achievement — social entrepreneur, farmer, activist, micro-finance banker and an economist. Sinha, through her Mann Deshi Foundation, has redefined the way world looks at rural distress. Inspired by Jayaprakash Narayan’s social movement, her early part of adult life in Mhaswad village of Maharashtra led her to do ‘something’ for the development of women. Founded in 1996, the foundation was started to uplift and empower women both economically and socially. In the beginning, Sinha set up a bank for women. Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank is one-of-its-kind bank run for and by the rural women. The bank started with a mere 840 women contributing Rs 600 of capital share. Today, it has nine branches with around 28,000 members and has a share capital of Rs 69 crore. Under Mann Deshi, there are some other key initiatives. Sinha has received various accolades, including Nari Shakti Award, the highest civilian award for women and Forbes Social Entrepreneurs of the Year (2017), among others. She has also served as a Co-Chair of Financial Inclusion at the W20 Summit 2018 in Argentina and Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum in Davos 2018. More power to her!

Ajaita Shah|Shifting the Power

Born into a well-off family from Rajasthan and having studied in New York, Ajaita Shah was awarded in 35-under-35 for her organisation Frontier Markets (FM). Shah founded FM to enable last-mile distribution of clean energy products system in rural households. First, when she visited India in 2003, she realised that 70 per cent of India didn’t have a proper power grid infrastructure. Since then, she is trying to solve this problem through her organisation. Based in Rajasthan, the organisation has a strong network of more than 5,000 entrepreneurs who work with 5,50,000 households driving their community-based economy. At the core is its Solar Saheli Programme that connects rural households to market, service providers and change-makers. Coming from a foreign land, Shah always had the vigour to solve problems that came across her and electricity was a major problem faced by the rural households. Access to pure and clean energy,  a basic necessity for people, has been made possible today through her venture. Shah was recognised as ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ by Forbes recently. Way to go!

Sunita Maheshwari|The Right Dose

Sunita Maheshwari, a pediatric, cardiologist and a gynecologist by profession, still considers herself as an accidental entrepreneur. She started Teleradiology Solutions (TRS) along with her husband in 2002. During this time, she saw a need for remote medical expertise, which led her to solve the problem through technology. Together with her husband she co-founded Teleradiology Solutions, RxDx Clinics and Telrad Tech. All three organisations provide tele-health solutions through technology. Back when they started, they were just connected to a few hospitals in the US. However, including Singapore Health Ministry and various hospitals in India across different rural hinterlands in states like Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir, Chhatisgarh, and Africa and the Middle East, TRS has increased its reach across geographies. Maheshwari, due to her passion of entrepreneurship, has received various awards such as Amazing India by Times Now in 2014, Young Clinician Award by the American Heart Association and the Best Teacher Award at Yale University. In 2009, she was also awarded Top 20 Women Achievers in medicine in India. She was also featured in a book titled India’s Most Powerful Women in 2016. Due to her contribution to the field of medicine, in 2010, Maheshwari was invited to meet then President of the US, Barrack Obama. Indeed, an inspiring story.

Sulajja Firodia Motwani|Taking the Lead

Founder of Kinetic Green Energy & Power Solution and Vice Chairperson of Kinetic Engineering, she started back in 2004 when electric vehicles weren’t as fancy as they are now. Coming from the family of Firodias, she is the third generation of the family leading the Kinetic Group. MBA from the US, Motwani has rich experience in the auto sector. She says when they started, the market wasn’t that aware of its prospects as it is now. Battery prices back then were $800 per kWh and now they are just $200 kWh. Motwani is spearheading the group in the EV space with over 150 exclusive Kinetic Green Dealers. Looking forward to a Rs 100-crore turnover, Motwani aspires Kinetic to become India’s largest EV company. On a lookout to raise $30 million, she wants to invest more in the business due to the company’s uniqueness as a brand. She was awarded as a business Face of the Millennium Award by India Today magazine among 25 business entrepreneurs of the country. In 2002, she was given the Society Young Achievers Award for Business. Last year, a leading business magazine awarded her the ‘Young Super Achiever’ Award. Motwani has also been selected as a Global Leader of Tomorrow and Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Keep up the good work!

Shilpa Sharma  |The Artistic Touch 

Shilpa Sharma has broken many stereotypes in her quest for the excellence. Cofounded  Jaypore, an e-commerce portal, with a mission of taking Indian-made products to the world for high on design product from India. But that is not the one thing she has strived to achieve. The essence of her entrepreneurial journey about the freedom and passion which she sums up as: “ I am blessed, I’ve been given the opportunity to re-imagine my life’s trajectory to make it a journey instead of an everyday commute.” Through her venture Jaypore, she brings forth the shades of India in the fold while championing the works of  indigenous artisan and their crafts. On her journey, she recounts her moment of faith and says, “I quit a successful career to follow my dreams, and am now living my dreams that pretty much define the person I am - an entrepreneur, who co-founded and now spearheads sourcing for an online retail portal for high on design products from India.” She started her career from the world of advertising over 28 years ago. Later, she worked with Fabindia, where she learnt her passion for Indian art and craft , which led to shape her dream into Jaypore. Shilpa followed her passion in the Hospitality industry with Breakaway — an experiential travel venture — she established in 2011. For her, Breakaway, is an outcome of her love for travel- a platform for offbeat /learning oriented and curated experiential tourism concepts. Besides, she also started  Mustard — a culinary delight to bring together the best of the West and the East, introducing Goa to her first ever menu of Bengali delicacies.

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