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Eldred Earns Ashoka Fellowship

From Ashoka India, Shivangini Tandon and Samuel Fernandes

Eldred Tellis, Founder and Director of Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008 for his outstanding work with the street drug user community in providing aid to them through targeted and sustained interventions. Eldred was officially inducted to the Fellowship at a public event in Pune hosted by Tata Motors.

Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, is a non-profit organization supporting the field of social entrepreneurship. Ashoka was founded by Bill Drayton in 1981 to identify and support leading social entrepreneurs through a Social Venture Capital approach with the goal of elevating the citizen sector to a competitive level equal to the business sector. The organization currently operates in over 60 countries and supports the work of 2000 social entrepreneurs or Ashoka Fellows.

Eldred was hand picked as a leading social entrepreneur and had to pass through a stringent time tested selection process. From nomination to election as a Fellow, candidates go through an extensive series of in-depth interviews, a judging panel, and a final executive board vote. While local Ashoka staff visit to evaluate candidates in their work environment, international experts review candidates against Ashoka’s criteria. Nominees are rigorously questioned by international staff and local experts about practical implementation—the blueprints that will make their ideas come to life—as well as personal background, values, motivations and aspirations. Eldred having being through the entire search and selection process of Ashoka met all five of Ashoka’s criteria:

  1. New Idea: A new solution to a social problem.
  2. Creativity: Ashoka Fellows are creative both as goal-setting visionaries and as problem solvers capable of engineering their visions into reality.
  3. Entrepreneurial Quality: The candidate needs to be completely absorbed by and committed to their vision of change
  4. Social Impact of the Idea: Ashoka looks for the potential of systemic change in the field and region of work
  5. Ethical Fiber: It is crucial that any individual introducing major structural changes be absolutely trustworthy. Every participant in the Ashoka selection process is asked to evaluate candidates for these qualities rigorously.

Eldred’s passion and commitment to his cause as well as his cutting edge work in prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, such as the unprecedented program for Injecting Drug Users in prisons convinced Ashoka of his abilities as a leading social entrepreneur. Eldred was publicly inducted into the Fellowship along with 17 other new Ashoka Fellows from India at a ceremony hosted by Tata Motors and supported by Google India. The guests of honour at the ceremony were Mr. Nihar Kothari, who is the owner and Chief Editor of “Rajasthan Patrika” the largest selling vernacular daily in India and veteran Ashoka Fellow CK Ganguly of the Timbuktu Collective.

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