Aspire For Her (AFH), was set up by ex-banker Madhura Dasgupta Sinha with the aim of creating a generation of financially independent women by turning every woman's career aspiration into action through education. Aspire For Her works with a vision to Impact 1 million+ women and add $5 billion to India's GDP through increased participation of women in the workforce by 2025. Its mission is to create a generation of financially independent women by turning every woman's career aspiration into action through education.
Madhura Dasgupta Sinha, Founder & CEO of Aspire For Her, told NDTV, “I have been a banker for the past 25 years, but the last two years of my life have been the most exciting both professionally and personally. I thought of setting up Aspire For Her when I saw the gender data emanating from India. India as a country is ranked right at the bottom in terms of economic participation of women.”
With a mission to change the diversity equation of our country, Aspire For Her was launched to motivate young women to enter and persevere in the workforce to unleash India's huge economic opportunity. Set up on International Women's Day in 2020, just before the Covid pandemic hit India, Aspire For Her was founded by Madhura herself, along with Mandira Dasgupta who joined the workforce in 1973 in the West Bengal Civil Services. She was the first woman Deputy Commissioner in the Commercial Taxes Department. In 1997, she was selected for the India Administrative Services (IAS), starting with Additional District Magistrate in Birbhum district (West Bengal), subsequently holding posts of Joint Secretary and Director in Health, Labour & Employment departments. The third founder is Proteeti Sinha, a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, she is actively involved in human-computer interaction research and is currently studying algorithmic bias on online media platforms. She is also pursuing a minor in Business Administration and is interested in working at the intersection of business, technology and human-computer interaction.
AFH creates online and offline programs for members with forward-thinking, diversity-focused organizations and professionals. The organisation provides access to a plethora of learning resources free of any charges to help develop skill-sets by learning from industry professionals, getting the chance to be certified, and advancing careers.
“Today at Aspire For Her we have more than 1 lakh 50 thousand members, mentors, and supporters across 60 different countries. We work on changing what is the most important component in women's economic participation i.e., the mindset. The mindset of women, families, and society. We today work with more than 50+ partners who help us enable the women to reach one of the three Es – Employment, Entrepreneurship or Education,” Madhura Dasgupta Sinha told NDTV.
And in the two years Aspire For Her has touched the lives of women who need support to join the workforce - like Adrija Das from Kolkata. Adrija lost her mother and her father turned violent and abusive before he abandoned her. Adrija voiced her concerns to a teacher and told her that she was afraid she wouldn't even pass her board exams. Her teacher contacted Aspire For Her mentor Sangeeta Maheshwari. Adrija says it helps to know that there is someone who supports her when she is struggling. She describes the organisation as her backbone.
“My dad had turned extremely abusive. He threatened to throw me out of the house, and he tried not to feed me for days. He abused me physically and verbally. So, I was mentally in a very bad place as I was grieving for my mother, and he was not letting me do that. And ultimately, he just abandoned me, and it was not the first time that he abandoned me. But the only problem this time was that my Mom wasn't there. Aspire for Her helped me attain my simple goals of living, sustaining, and getting an education – the education that I deserved, and I knew that I was capable of. My experience with Aspire For Her has been very dreamy and I am not exaggerating when I say that. My life would have been very different if Aspire For Her did not come with the help and warmth they came with,” Adrija Das told NDTV.
Aspire For Her also intervened in the lives of women who had lost their primary breadwinners to Covid through its Not Alone initiative. Women like Bijoyeta Maitra lost her husband due to Covid and had to struggle to take control of her life and finances and look after her young daughter, and that is when Aspire For Her stepped in.
“I did not know what to do and whom to go to. After contacting Aspire For Her I found a lot of mentors. I was mentored very well and convinced, that I was not alone and had support. This is Aspire For Her,” Bijoyeta Maitra, a wellness advisor and entrepreneur told NDTV.
Aspire For Her works through a network of extraordinary women leaders as mentors and role models who guide and mentor the members to navigate their career path to unleash the trillion-dollar opportunity in India by adding 5% to India's GDP by 2025. All this by helping women join and stay in the workforce.