The Fellowship is a 9 month course that will help you start a social enterprise, community project or charity. The focus is on learning by doing. Each day of the course will leave you inspired, re-energised and full of confidence. The course is centred around the development of both you as a leader and turning your idea into an organization. For more information visit the website: http://www.the-sseindia.org/programme/. Here we are having a conversation with Archana Relan who is a fellow at SSE
Can you give me a brief introduction about yourself ?
Hello, Archana Relan. I work in agricultural sector. I completed by schooling in Bhopal. Then went on to do BSc in Agriculture which is a four year course and then did my MSc in Agriculture with specialisation in Food Science and technology. I was working in development sector organisation called BAIF which was based in Pune. After that, I joined Tata Institute of Social Sciences for MA in social entrepreneurship. While I am studying their I actually started working with my project
Why did you apply for this fellowship?
Our environment is not so conducive to entrepreneurship, especially social entrepreneurship because it involves a lot of risk and uncertainty. So, everyone you know you parents, family, friends, try to pull you back from those daring thoughts and put you in a “safe” track. Every day you are struggling with your work and have to deal with a lot of people who are worried about you. Fellowships for me are something which gives me right environment to pursue my dream. Any fellowships give you a positive environment where you are surrounded with people who are like you and you will get a lot of encouragement. In SSE this something that I was looking forward to.
Can you tell me the selection process involved in this fellowship?
The selection process has three steps:
Do you suggest any Do’s or Don’ts
Can you tell me about the fellowship?
The fellowship is started way back in UK. But now they have expanded it to countries like India Australia etc. it is a nine-month long fellowship. And you will be trained to become a successful social entrepreneur
What were the activities during the fellowship?
In the nine month long fellowship we have 23 contact days. Each month has two-three contact days. There were 17 of us. Many experts from different people coming and talk to us about their experience and teach us to do different things. Apart from that we have something called Action Learning. Action learning is the most important feature of this fellowship. Here you will be discussing the challenges to experts and they will force you think and find solutions. As a person I had the habit of suggesting solutions to everybody but this session forced me to think about my solutions and present solution to anybody. We are not allowed to just suggest. This will improve your personality and develop your leadership. This will enable a person to solve a problem by themselves by not depending on anyone. My personal experience was that initially it was very hard thing to do and you had to do it consciously. But now I am automatically trying to solve problems. And also you are working along with 17 bright minds solving problems of their own and it teaches you a lot things. Sometimes you can discuss your ideas with others and sometimes you will get real solution which really works.
Tell me about your project
My project was called ‘Miraculous Millets’ which is actually the promotion of indigenous millets. We have developed two pilot projects. We are already starting our business from next week. Our idea is to promote indigenous millets of state to for the economical and food security of smaller marginal farmers. There are some caste issues here. People who grow these crops cannot grow any other commercial corps. Mainly the lower caste tribal groups are growing these crops. Mainly the elder people in these families who know the importance of these millets, they grow it. We are promoting their product to high value market. They will get a good price of their produce and also they will be motivated to cultivate more. We are encouraging them to cultivate it organically.
What are the skills that you acquire?
What do you think is the most unique feature of this fellowship?
As I have told you, Action Learning is the most amazing feature of the fellowship. You will be dealing with real life problems and will be a real problem solver in all the challenging situations in life.
What do you have to say to the aspiring social entrepreneurs ?
Well, what I have to say is that stand-up for you. Learn to do so. Put your and hands in it and very importantly be positive. It is my personal experience that whenever something goes wrong I speak to myself ” it will happen” and suddenly something would happen.