Chaitanya is one of the pioneers of community based micro-finance institutions in Maharashtra. It facilitated the formation of the first SHG federation in Maharashtra- ‘Grameen Mahila Swayamsiddha Sangha’ with the objectives of creating a habit of savings and credit among group members, generate external resources and provide a forum for exchange of information and experience to large groups of women. Since its formation, Chaitanya has played a catalytic role in spreading SHG movement in and around Maharashtra. At present 40 federations promoted by Chaitanya are owned and governed by women members of 8500 plus self-help groups and work as strong sustainable institutions that perform financial and other social/developmental activities.

Chaitanya is registered as a Trust under Under Bombay Public Trusts Act 1950 having its registered office at Moti Chowk, Rajgurunagar, Khed, Pune. 


Our Story

"Bahana bachat ka, badlav mahilaon ka" -  

In 1988, during her work in villages in Maharashtra, Dr. Sudha Kothari came across women's associations called Mahila Mandals developed by government for women's development. Being passionate about women's development, she saw these institutions as potential foundations for women's empowerment, however she was disappointed to find them largely inactive. The women in the village did not understand its purpose and found no need to come for the meetings. While exploring rural development, she visited Andhra Pradesh to see women's thrift groups and thrift cooperatives(self-help groups). She was inspired with the idea that a credit program could provide the motivation for women in the mahila mandals to come together and meet regularly.

In 1989, she helped organise fourteen SHGs involving 700 women in a savings program in villages around Chas village in Khed block of Pune district in Maharashtra with the aim of creating savings habits among the women. She encouraged them to save Re. 1 per week. After a year, they had saved more than INR1,00,000. The led to building confidence of women in themselves. After this success, Dr. Kothari along with Ms. Surekha Shrotriya founded 'Chaitanya' because they realised self-help groups (SHGs) can be effective instruments for women's empowerment.



A gender just, equitable society where women have access to and control over financial and other resources


Building capacities of rural poor especially women and youth by promoting and strengthening self reliant and sustainable institutions to enable them to lead the process of development for a better quality of life.





Over the 26 years, Chaitanya has promoted, nurtured and supported more than 50 organisations. The three major institutions which today continues to be the support arms of Chaitanya are GMSS, Saarthi and WISE.

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Grameen Mahila Swayamsiddha Sangha, GMSS, Khed the first SHG federation in Maharashtra promoted by Chaitanya started functioning in the year 1991.



Saarthi is the institution formed by the representatives of all federations promoted by Chaitanya. It acts as a super federation which governs and monitors the other member federations.


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Women’s Integrated and Synergistic Empowerment (WISE) is promoted by Chaitanya and supported by Small Industries Bank of India (SIDBI) under the Poorest States Inclusion Growth(PSIG) program to consolidate Chaitanya’s expertise and experience and transfer the knowledge through capacity building and field level pilots that augment learning and development in the sector. 



Dr. Sudha Kothari

Founder & Managing Trustee

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Kalpana Pant

Executive Director & Trustee

Surekha Shrotriya

Founder & Admin Trustee


Dr. SV Gore

Dr. Ram Kataria

Dr. SV Vadalamuri

Mr. Vijayakumar Bhansali

Ms. Jahnvi Andharia

Mr. Ramesh Deshpande