“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Powerful words by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi that reflect the potential of a human being to bring about change he/she wishes to see. Bringing about change is not a matter of resources only, but of grit and determination, however small the scale, and whatever be the cause. Sarah Berry explores the journeys of some go-getters, who have started out young on the path of catalysing change.
Nilay Wankhade hails from a small town in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. He is currently pursuing his studies in public policy. Post his Automobile Engineering, the young lad took up a job, for a year, with Tech Mahindra, which is when he found his calling in the form of the Ideosync UNESCO India Fellow (IUIF) programme; here he worked at Mann Deshi Tarang Vahini, a grassroots community radio station in Mhaswad, Maharashtra, followed by a job at the radio’s parent organization, Mann Deshi Foundation, working for the cause of economic empowerment and skill development of women. “During my work in the IT sector, I realised that my skills are not making the impact I would have wanted them too; I felt I could add more meaning by working with a grassroots organisation, thereby, directly impacting people’s lives. It was then that IUIF happened, through which I chose Communication for Social Change (C4SC) as my area of interest. During the fellowship year, I got a chance to revamp the documentation structure of the radio station and focus efforts on increasing listenership, for which we took up various community engagement initiatives, including social media outreach. An important outcome of the fellowship was an Andriod app, developed for the radio station, to enable community members listen to their favourite content, anywhere, without the need of a radio set. ”
Post-fellowship, Nilay joined Mann Deshi Foundation. Though most of the work was documentation related, he got the opportunity to design a digital financial inclusion programme for rural women entrepreneurs in Satara district. This was a great opportunity as no such programme existed and everything needed to be built from scratch. Over the span of the programme, over 5,000 women entrepreneurs were trained to use digital payments methods such as debit cards, UPI, internet banking, POS, etc. The programme taught him the importance of localisation of solutions and its effectiveness. Many women who were unbanked, now use smartphones to make and accept payments.
Adds Nilay: “Having worked in digital financial inclusion, I realise the potential of FinTech and want to utilise my understanding of the sector to make such programmes more effective, countrywide. My other interests include environment and technology, as I firmly believe that technology can provide solutions to the most challenging issues faced right now. Through my study as a public policy scholar, I expect to secure a broad understanding of the policy space in various sectors. I believe that all social issues are interconnected and can’t be fully addressed by focusing only on the superficial aspects. After my course, I want to gain experience in an organisation working towards address environmental issues with the help of technology, build networks and leverage them to take up an initiative in the environment and agriculture sectors in the Vidarbha region, to where I belong.”