Young Sikh Woman Honored by Newsweek

July 3, 2006

Source: SikhNet News/

On July 3, 2006 SikhNet News/ reported, "Benita Singh, an Indian American, has been honoured by Newsweek for helping disadvantaged women. In 2003 Benita Singh visited Guatemala to research her Yale University senior year thesis. The Long Island, New York-born Singh wanted to study how women, especially in rural communities, were recovering from the traumas of war... [I]n the village of San Alfonso in Guatemala, Singh was amazed that people did not ask her for money. 'The only thing they asked for, was for us to buy their bags and their jewellery,' Singh, 23, says. 'I realised these women may be victims of trauma, but more importantly they are actually entrepreneurs,' adds Singh, youngest daughter of India-born Sikh parents. Her father works for a customs brokerage company and her mother is a lawyer, who founded a charity called Children's Hope. 'They (the women of San Alfonso) were a motivation for me to become an entrepreneur.' Last week Singh and her Yale colleague Ruth Degolia, 24, were honoured by Newsweek magazine with its first Giving Back Awards in recognition of people who devote themselves to helping others. The two were singled out in the under-25 category for starting a non-profit organisation, Mercado Global. Launched in 2004, Mercado has organised 18 co-operatives in remote rural areas of Guatemala. The products from the co-operatives, shawls, bags and jewellery, are sold at marked up prices to high-end stores in the U.S. and through e-commerce. Profits generated are rolled back to the communities in Guatemala to build schools and educate young girls. And this year Mercado is sending computers to each community for the women to manage their record keeping."