In May 2019, TAQ launched a year-long leadership development programme at Mann Deshi for their staff and community leaders.
This grass-root organisation focused on enabling women’s empowerment through financial independence, skilling and community networks is run by a group of amazing women with Chetna Sinha at its helm. It has an impressive history of mobilising the women of rural Maharashtra – from starting the first women’s cooperative bank, to introducing a rural MBA programme and most recently training rural girls to compete in sports at an international level. Last year Chetna was one of the three hosts at the World Economic Forum at Davos and this strengthened her resolve to expand the number of women entrepreneurs under Mann Deshi ten-fold to 1,000,000. This aspiration of scale meant more ambitious fund raising, strategic partnerships and also a need to strengthen its own team’s capacity to build scale. TAQ feels privileged to walk this journey with Mann Deshi’s ~30 leaders of thinking strategically, strengthening communication and influencing, building managerial capabilities, etc. The aim is to enable this cohort of women to give voice to the spark within them and inspire 10 lakh more to find courage and command respect and equality.
In the first session, TAQ’s team worked with storytelling techniques to set a personal vision. We have of course done this many times before – with corporate and social sector organisations. But doing this with a cohort of rural women was a new challenge. It meant having to work entirely in Marathi and investing time and effort to place concepts and ideas in ways that the team could embrace. The acid test for us was whether we could make our leadership development work relevant in the context of these leaders’ lives. We were lucky to have Pradeep Vaiddya and his associates join us from Pune. They bring a passion and empathy for this work. Together, we spent many days prior to the launch of the first workshop, immersing in conversations, tweaking our standard work and jargon.
We started the workshop drawing them out through theatre exercises. The storytelling exercises helped them link their own personal experiences to the vision of Mann Deshi. Over the coming year, they will go through a comprehensive leadership journey including workshops to build presence and communication skills, visits to other organisations, work on specific projects, etc. We truly look forward to this programme with Mann Deshi. The experiences and spirit of these women leaves us humbled and we learnt as much in the room as we taught !