[TC-I Call to Action]: Grassroutes Fellowship Program

Maybe it’s time to unleash the Che Guevara in you! 

The Grassroutes Fellowship Program encourages youth to embark on road-trips, interact with change-makers at the grassroots and understand first-hand the problems that plague our nation.The Program sponsors 6 teams of adventurous, passionate young people every year on such 10 day road-trips. Applications are due November 15, 2008 for the winter edition of the fellowship.

During the Program, the Fellows will have to:

  • Research and understand the on-ground reality – the problem at hand, the non-profits, the change-makers and their actions, the role of the community and the local government.
  • Play the role of social journalists and capture the stories of all the people involved in community development
  • Lend a helping hand to the change-makers during the 10 days in their own little ways.
  • On their return, Grasssroutes will help the fellows produce quality videos of their travelogues and bring to fore the amazing work being carried out by change-makers at the grassroots. Such media will be hosted on the Grassroutes portal and the fellows will work towards inspiring the larger Indian society to contribute to the work of these non-profits and similar activities in other places

Grassroutes is run by non-profit society  called Yofa (for Youth Factor) that provides a banner for people to run novel projects to engage youth into social action. Yofa and Grassroutes were founded by a team of BITS Pilani alumni in early 20’s.

BITS Pilani’s rural cooperative

In response to my previous post on the role of academic institutions in building entrepreneurs, Rachit pointed me out the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at BITS Pilani (yes, we do read your comments!)

The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) at BITS Pilani, was set up for that very purpose, to create entrepreneurial leaders and have a significant impact on the global entrepreneurial community.
We are also one of:

  • The Centers for Excellence at BITS Pilani
  • The top 5 centres of Entrepreneurship among Indian Universities
  • The founders of the National Entrepreneurship Network
  • More specifically, the center runs a program called Parampara, which is building a self-sustaining women’s cooperative in rural Pilani:

    The project is planned to be implemented in three phases:

    1. Identifying a group of women and engaging them in an income generation activity to build the foundation of the cooperative
    2. Building a self sustained cooperative around the group
    3. Bringing in micro-finance into the cooperative to help in growth.

    A small cooperative of 21 women has already been setup in a village called Garinda. They call themselves the Saraswati Cooperative and currently manufacture paper bags. More products are being thought of and models to market them being worked out.

    It’s important for academic institutions to look around their campus and focus on creating ‘sustained’ change within those communities where they are located. There was a reason why India’s founding fathers wanted to locate premier business and engineering schools in remote corners of the country. Of course, it’s a stark reality that almost all of the graduates from these ivy schools re-locate to a metro or outside the country the moment the graduate. But the BITS initiative is a good example of creating change in the rural community around the campus. We need many more.

    P.S. Its quite ironic that BITS decided to locate its newest campus in Dubai!