The matriarch of the family often has the most interesting backstory. How many of us had a grandma that was the glue holding our family together? The one weaving the thread of our family’s tapestry, making it colorful and rich? Grandmothers are often the unsung heroes in so many of our stories.
On a recent volume of Psychology of Entrepreneurship, I sat down with Prabhat Sinha. Prabhat grew up in a rural village in India, where his mother and his grandmother were the strongholds of the family. He has vivid memories of his grandmother working long hours in the fields, growing their family’s food. Or carrying heavy equipment and water tanks to supply his family with fresh water.
Growing up, Prabhat knew that women weren’t treated fairly in his country. But he also saw how amazingly strong the women in his life were. This instilled a sense of imbalance that he knew he would eventually have to confront. “By growing up with these powerful women, my mother and my grandmother, in my house, that’s where I realised that there’s injustice for women.” Prabhat explained. “And I want to do something for them.”
Today, Prabhat is the proud founder of the Mann Deshi Foundation. This amazing organisation empowers women in rural India to make their own choices by giving them skills, financial know-how and access to business networks. This idea, of course, was born out of Prabhat’s immense gratitude and appreciation for the strong women in his life. He wanted to create a way for all women in India to become strong organically, not because they were forced to, out of survival.
Prabhat’s grandmother was always a beacon in his life. She would show him how to plant and harvest food for the family. She would carry large containers of water over her head up flights of stairs. And he was also aware of the spousal abuse she suffered as a young bride. Much of which wasn’t talked about in an alarming fashion, domestic abuse was the “norm” in India. In many ways, it still is today.
“I was very much influenced by my Grandmother.” Prabhat said. “My Grandmother was a big part of who shaped me, showed me what going through a real challenge is.” And women all over India, and the world, are going through real challenges every single day. He wanted to shed light on this, and make their challenges easier in any way he could.
Girls and Sports
Besides the Mann Deshi Foundation, Prabhat also started the Mann Deshi Champions. This sports program provides facilities, equipment, coaching, training and even nutrition for aspiring athletes in rural India. It’s not just about playing sports. It’s about giving kids and teens social skills, self esteem and physical health that they can carry throughout their entire lives.
When Prabhat came to America as a pre-teen, the things he gained from discovering sports forever changed him. As an adult he knew he had to go back to India and share this knowledge and passion with kids. This kind of empowerment for young people, especially young girls, is invaluable. Showing girls that they are just as powerful as boys, maybe even more so, gives them the kind of confidence you can’t discover by words alone.
An empowered girl becomes an empowered woman. And maybe one day that empowered woman will become a Grandmother. And this Grandmother will continue the cycle of female empowerment for generations to come.
To hear more of this inspiring conversation, check out Psychology of Entrepreneurship Volume 52: Prabhat Sinha: Empowerment.
Author: Kaili Bonnyman
Kaili is the Queen of Audio at Must Amplify.