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Deshpande Fellowship Program

Creating Effective Leaders of Change

The Deshpande Fellowship Programme (DFP) is focused on creating strong mid- management professionals empowered to work in the social development sector. The rigorous eight-month residential programme started in 2008 accepts only the most passionate and driven students. Through 30 diverse modules, the intensive course uses a hands-on approach to equip DFP Fellows with skills necessary to take up leadership roles in NGOs, start their own entrepreneurial ventures or pursue higher education.

The DFP curriculum has a strong focus on action and includes field visits to social enterprises, village research studies, interactions with experienced speakers and leadership development activities. This provides Tier-2/Tier-3 cities such as Hubballi with well-equipped and confident mid-management professionals. The programme also prepares the Fellows to meet challenges related to career growth and ramping up on the leadership path, allowing them to quickly scale at a professional level.

At a Glance

Empowering an untapped resource in the development field young and enthusiastic people with the potential to succeed, but held back due to social or academic obstacles is what DFP seeks to change.

  • Graduates and postgraduates between 23 and 28 While the course requires at least six months of work experience, DFP also accepts those with less experience but with exceptional skills and a proven passion for change
  • Caters to grassroots talent 70% of the participants are from rural areas and 50% of the DFP Fellows come from economically underprivileged backgrounds
  • 30+ modules Focused on programme management, essential skills and sector-based knowledge
  • Builds aspiration through learning from distinguished entrepreneurs and guest speakers from across the industry
  • Emphasis on hands-on learning case studies, field projects, micro-labs, NGO visits and leadership development activities
  • Inclusive Women are an integral part of the Programme
“DFP made me a responsible man. I realized that when I started working with Selco. I was selected at Selco on a temporary basis, they wanted to see how capable I was. I was given a task of problem solving in all our branches. It was like a cake walk for me now! Recognizing my capabilities they gave me bigger tasks and now I work on their mission.

Working with Selco Foundation

How it Works

Selection: The selection process combines Reasoning and Aptitude Tests, Group Discussions or presentations about a subject related to the development sector and a face-to-face interview.

On-ground training and project work: On-ground learning takes up 60% of the programme time. Fellows take on real-life challenges, numerous leadership activities and training in interview skills. As part of the programme, students are asked to sell a wide range of items from khadi dress material to books, as well as conduct leadership activities to train college-goers on a range of life and technical skills.

Soft skills: Skills integral to effective communication form a major part of this programme spoken and written English, use of technology, pitching an idea, negotiating and marketing. Apart from learning new skills, the emphasis placed on soft skills reinforces the students self-confidence and poise.

Faculty and curriculum: Most of the faculty members are DFP alumni and practicing entrepreneurs in the field of social development. They bring practical understanding and hands-on insights of real world scenarios to the Sandbox area.

Sector focus: In addition to a strong focus on skills and capabilities, DFP also has sector- specific modules in health, agriculture, livelihoods and education. Students learn to explore markets, chains of production and consumption for various products and commodities. DFP students develop a deeper understanding of the mechanisms and models that effectively integrate base of the pyramid communities with mainstream markets.

Joining DFP is the turning point apply now

Impact of DFP

Placement: DFP offers Fellows the opportunity to assimilate into the thriving ecosystem of social organisations and start-ups in Hubballi. Over 200 Fellows have been recruited and placed in for-profit organisations, non-profit organisations and social enterprises from across the country.

Distribution of DFP applicants
Karnataka – 275
Maharashtra – 9
Rajasthan – 4
Delhi – 3
Telangana – 9
Madhya Pradesh – 2
Uttar Pradesh – 4
Kerala – 2
Goa – 1
Bihar – 1
Assam – 1
West Bengal – 1
Madhya Pradesh – 1
DFP Fellows – Placement Sectors

Creation of social entrepreneurs: The DFP programme has helped start and scale 15 social enterprises. Some of these ventures have also been incubated in the Sandbox as full-fledged social enterprises through the EIR programme.

Startups by DFP Fellows

Strong career growth: DFP alumni start their careers at a higher position and draw salaries at least three times higher than their peers. They also get a Five to Six times jump in salary in comparison with their previous jobs.

I was referred by my CEO to join the Deshpande Fellowship Program in 2008. When I was interviewed, I couldnt speak in English, I needed a translator. I dont know what Naveen sir saw in me, I was selected. DFP was like an oasis in the desert for me. The first time I heard about having an open mindset was during our village study module and the concept of entrepreneurship was first introduced to me during the fellowship. I always thought that social work was the ultimate form of working, now I know the importance of sustainability and entrepreneurship.

Sikandar Miranayak,
Founder & CEO, SRDS, Hubballi.

Powering the Deshpande Foundation: A substantial number of the programme officers and senior staff members at the DFP are graduates of the programme.