Earlier this year, ThinkChange India covered the signing of MoU between TATA Sons, UC Berkeley and Cambridge University to provide opportunities for the students from these universities to take part in Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme (TISES).
The primary objective of TISES is to provide international students with a chance to work in community initiative projects of Tata Sons and therefore promote international understanding.
Following this MoU, the first batch of students, four from Cambridge University and five from University of California, Berkeley flew to India in July 2008 to work on various social projects that Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) has initiated and sustained.
All but two of the students worked on projects aimed at equipping the rural poor with means to achieve better livelihood. For instance, Valerie Fitton-Kane, a M.Phil student in Education Research in University of Cambridge researched and suggested improvements to the Linkages and Monitoring system of Rural Entrepreneurship Development Programme (REDP), a program for skill development and income generation for rural poor. In her presentation to the TATA Sons, she noted that
Overall, REDP has a significantly positive impact in terms of income and employment generation, as well as social development…. (but) reduce quantity of REDP trainings and improve quality of post-training assistance, initiate a programme to build credit culture,(and) run a campaign to change the public mindset about entrepreneurship, especially female entrepreneurship.
Two students from University of California, Berkeley Liza Cirolia, Shu Shang took a different route and focused on Tata Steel’s Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Project (RISHTA). Talking to TATA Sons about her experience, Ms. Shang said,
It was a very sensitive topic and one which is generally taboo in most rural areas. So it was not easy for us to teach it, but we tried to include a lot of information in our sessions. We used different techniques to make the programme as interactive as possible
TATA Sons has a wide range of interventions for rural development and some young minds and international perspectives do seem to make an impact, not only in providing food for TATA Sons’s thoughts for fine tuning its models, but also directly on the rural poor in health, water usage and livelihood.
As for the interns, they seem to have enjoyed a good learning experience in India as these pictures demonstrate. Not everything seems to have been easy for the visitors though. Intern Lee Nordstrum of Cambridge, in his presentation, reflected Valerie Fitton-Kane’s opinion that the project was not clearly defined at the beginning. However, to be fair, since this is the first leg of the scheme even TATA Sons has to be considered as a learner too.
As TATA Sons, UCB and Cambridge get ready for the second batch of students to avail this internship, ThinkChange India offers its best wishes to all stakeholders involved to forge a better society and better social entrepreneurs out of this scheme.
Filed under: Education, Health, Microfinance, Social Entrepreneurship | Tagged: Berkeley, Cambridge, Liza Cirolia, REDP, Rural Entrepreneurship Development Program, Shu Shang, Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development, Tata Group, Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme, TCSRD, TISES, University of California, Valerie Fitton-Kane |