Yuvraj, a 19-year old youth saw a 66-year old man on a wheelchair selling incense sticks (agarbathis) on a busy road in Pune to support his parents and also part-fund a medical student’s education. He picked him as his hero for the film he was doing as part of the ‘Yes I’m the Change’ film-making contest organized by Yes Bank. Contestants get a surprise topic at 6 am and are expected to submit a film on any social topic within 101 hours. The youth’s short movie went on to win the contest. At the award ceremony, presided over by Amitabh Bachchan, he said it was great meeting AB but his experience of meeting this elderly gentleman was greater.
Kuljit has taken up animal rescue seriously. He works part time in Delhi and does animal rescue rest of the time. He built an app which has 1600 of his friends and youth singing up. Leena in Kolkota works on finding missing girls.
These youth represent what Yes Foundation, the social sector arm of Yes Bank, is aspiring to achieve through several of its outreach with youth who it thinks are powerful agents of social change. It’s ‘Yes I’m the Change Social Film Festival’ has been a roaring success. In 2016, YES! i am the CHANGE engaged with over 13 lakh individuals from 2,500 cities and towns across India and received a record-breaking 29,500 social films for the free use of NGOs. “What was started as a thought has become a revolution across India,” Prerana Langa, CEO of Yes Foundation, told Benedict Paramanand, in a chat recently. She has set up a Change Makers’ Fund to support these initiatives.
“We focus on stimulating entrepreneurship and innovative use of media initiatives for social transformation, to enable India’s inclusive growth,” she added.
Media for Social Change
Buoyed by the phenomenal success of the social film initiative, the Foundation launched another ambitious initiative called ‘Media for Social Change Fellowships’ two years ago. In the first year 45 youth were selected to undergo 8 weeks of intense training on various sectors like working with NGOs, with social media among others. “We wanted a deeper engagement with the youth for creating more sensitive citizens, so we launched this fellowship,” Ms Langa said.
This fellowship number rose to 200 in 2017. The plan is to increase it to 500 in 2018. The fellows get a modest fellowship of Rs. 10,000 and other expenses. They get a mentor for each of their projects. “If people are passionate they find their own resources. Many of them join NGOs and the corporate sector thereby enhancing the quality of their talent pool,” she added.
Yes Bank has been a pioneer in responsible banking. It has consistently denied credit and loans to projects and organizations that harm ecology. Prerana Lamba is a veteran in the social sector. Before joining Yes Bank, she was part of the founding team of ICICI Foundation that has done pioneering work with bottom of the pyramid sectors.