Axis Bank Foundation and NGO Srijan have partnered together to run an initiative which aims to nurture talent for the development sector. And for this 15 graduates from the Indian Institutes of Management at Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Shillong have been hired from the campus, under Buddha Fellowship Program. The purpose of this is to help these Buddha fellows “learn by doing.” Under this program, they would work on various assignments in SRIJAN, JSS, and KEF in association with various government departments.
Axis Bank Foundation Chief Executive Jacob Ninan said, "Just like the corporate sector, the development sector also needs high-quality talent as the problems are more complex. There are no 'off-the-shelf' solutions available and therefore there is a dire need for fresh thinking and sharp minds."
A day-long event was recently hosted by Axis Bank and Srijan, where the graduates had sessions with some of the bank's business heads as well as other senior leaders.
The head of Srijan Ved Arya shared that the Buddha Fellows (2017-19) are a cohort of IIM graduates and they are working in rural areas with farmer producer companies, civil society organizations and government departments to scale up new or existing projects in livelihood, health and education sectors.
The Buddha fellows will go through 45 days of ‘immersion’ after being selected from the campus. Here, they would live with underprivileged families and experience village life first hand. This 45-day immersion would bring them closer to the realities of poverty, unemployment, risks and the vulnerability of farming and the lack of access to health and education services.
While some of these fellows are involved in assignments in the livelihood sector such as processing custard apple, marketing its pulp, and scaling the value chain of the fruit for villagers, some of the others are working on the health sector assignments to create strategies for frontline health workers such as ASHA and Anganwadis to improve health outcomes or eliminate grave health problems.
These Buddha Fellows are expected to come up with a business plan that could secure funding from an investor. They can either scale up (10 X) an existing operation or design an entirely new enterprise. These enterprises, including the new ones, are likely to be within an organization where the risk is mutually shared. They would also have a choice to either set up a civil society organization or to join the government as consultants.