Ashoka Announces Selection of Ashoka Fellows

Ashoka Innovators for the Public today announced that it has selected two social entrepreneurs in India as Ashoka Fellows. Tarique Mohammed Qureshi, founder of Koshish, and Anup Nair, founder of LEDS, have passtionately pursued social issues by implementing innovative solutions to create long lasting social impact. After a rigorous selection procedure, they join a distinguished list of 350 Ashoka Fellows across the country working on a wide range of fields.

Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who we recognize to have innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. They demonstrate unrivalled commitment to bold new ideas and prove that compassion, creativity and collaboration are tremendous forces for change. Ashoka Fellows work in over 70 countries around the globe in every area of human need.

Tarique Mohammed Qureshi started Koshish in partnership with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, to bring about systemic change and reforms in the State-run Beggars homes. Pointing out the highly exclusionary nature of the beggary laws in the country, Tarique, through Koshish, challenges and transforms public perception of beggary. Along the way, Tarique collaborates with a various institutions, thereby laying the foundation to advocate for the repeal of the law and the integration of destitutes with society. Through various partnerships, he has been able to provide free healthcare services and vocational training for people living in the Beggars Homes in Mumbai and Delhi. He is currently piloting his project in Bangalore.

‘We see the Ashoka Fellowship as a faith shown on our vision, aim, strategies, what we stand for, what we believe in and what we do. This Fellowship, therefore, comes as a responsibility for us to make this work even more relevant and far reaching,’ said Tarique.

Anup Nair launched LEDS to leverage the resources and infrastructure provided by the government to establish local entrepreneurial production and distribution networks. To increase the sustainability of microenterprises in India, Anup, through LEDS, has created local production and supply systems driven by micro-entrepreneurs, thereby fostering a local-to-local economy. This system uses the collective strength of local micro-enterprises to compete with large corporations which are actively targeting the local rural markets. Anup has created a distribution network of village level women entrepreneurs or ‘HomeShops’ which deliver products to the doorsteps of consumers. Since 2009, LEDS has built a network of 75 microenterprises, 1,350 HomeShops with 14 management teams in Kerala.

“Ashoka Fellowship to me means joining hands with hundreds of like-minded people towards co-creating better human values and making world a better place to live,” said Anup.

“Ashoka Innovators for the Public, over the last 30 years, has been identifying social entrepreneurs who have some of the most innovative solutions to address society’s urgent problems. As Ashoka Fellows, they carry the potential to create game-changing social impact in their chosen fields,” said Ashoka India Country Director Solomon Prakash. “Their passion and entrepreneurial quality will continue to be an inspiration for thousands to perceive social issues using the skills of empathy and a changemaker.”

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