Meet Mona Sinha
Entrepreneur & Founding Board Member of the Asian Women’s Leadership University
Philanthropy has always been an important part of my life. As the youngest of three girls growing up in Calcutta, I understood the importance of empowering girls early on. I saw gender inequality everywhere. My parents were constantly asked, “No sons?” At Mother Teresa’s orphanage, where my sisters and I volunteered, the boys always got adopted first. I also noticed that there were more young girls begging in the streets than boys. My mother insisted that my sisters and I volunteer as tutors as we grew up, to instill in us the importance of giving education back to those who did not have it as readily as we did.
When it came time for college, anonymous financial support enabled me to have a transformational education at Smith College. I’ve always wanted to thank those donors in person and learn what motivated them to support women from India, but I understand their decision to give anonymously. My mother always told me, “The best recognition comes from the people you support.”
When I joined Women Moving Millions, I saw the value of activating my voice and influence for the issues I am passionate about. I tap my connections, call attention to issues, and actively fundraise, because I believe that the more we support women through education and leadership training, the better chance we have of leaving behind a restored world.
It’s not about recognition, it’s about impact. You can’t inspire others by being quiet.
In 2010, I made my BIG + bold $1 million pledge in support of educating women to be leaders. Part of that gift went to Apne Aap whose mission is to increase choices for at-risk women and girls in order to ensure access to their rights. Apne Aap also works to change policy to protect women against violence and from being bought for sex.
Ruchira Gupta Describes the Impact
Founder & President, Apne Aap
It meant a lot to me when Mona got involved with Apne Aap, because not only does she have a gender lens in her funding, she is also from Calcutta. We wanted to find a donor who truly understood our community on a personal level.
When Mona first came to Calcutta to see our work, she bonded with the girls instantly and had an innate understanding of and sensitivity to their experiences. She was a pioneer in many ways, and her gift came at a time when no one else in Calcutta would show the same leadership around sex trafficking.
For most non-profits, money is always an issue. It can be difficult to identify the right type of donor, and at times larger foundational funding comes with challenging programmatic restrictions or other limitations. Mona’s gift gave Apne Aap an alternative to larger foundational grant seeking.
Because of Mona, I can now choose which foundations to approach for funding and partnerships. Her gift gave us leverage, helped build our infrastructure, and paved the way for other women to come to Calcutta.
With her help along with the NOVO Foundation and other Women Moving Millions donors, we no longer have to compromise our programs and goals in order to meet funding requirements.