As the winter of 2016 rolled in, with the Qissa self-publishing up and running and Daastan’s founder Syed Ommer Ammer enrolled in Telenor’s Velocity Program looking to scale the company and redefine the industry as per Daastan’s vision, the team decided to kickstart a fellowship program. The program, dubbed the Literary Fellowship, would enlist and take on fresh minds who were seeking to disrupt and change the game in the literary industry, but were lacking the opportunity or the proper guidance to do so. The team, having many such obstacles while trying to reach out to the public themselves, wanted to pave the way and make it easier for those who wanted to follow in their suit, and equip them with cheers and support rather than rejections and sneers.
The Launch and Subsequent Response:
The call for submissions for the debut batch went out in the September of 2016, and to our surprise more than 50 people applied for the program. Each submission was carefully pored over, to make sure the group that would be a part of the team in the upcoming three months were doers and believers who could push past their comfort zones. They were initially shortlisted to a group of almost 25 people, and after an interview session, the number was reduced down to the final 15, and that is when the magic began.
The Course of the Fellowship:
Over the next three months, the mentors from Daastan laboured day in and day out with their assigned mentees. Each fellow was given tailor made tasks to enhance their specific skill set, along with targeted guidance to help them do their work efficiently. The fellows were encouraged to come up with projects of their own, which Daastan would help them develop, launch, market and scale so at the end of the three-month period they would have a sustainable venture of their own to build on. After a few months it became clear, the fellowship program had become a huge hit.
The success stories of the debut batch included Ms. Mahnoor Naseer, who co-founded a global digital publishing platform by the name of The Ancient Souls, and also helped us set up operations in India. She went on to become an Editor in Chief at Daastan, and train the next batch of fellows. Another graduate, Ms. Aroosa Mushtaq Malik, was video interviewed live on PTV World. Ms. Armin Bilquis, the youngest fellow of the batch, brought her poetry book to Qissa, and Daastan helped raise funds to bring “Melted Kaleidoscopes” to print. Order a copy here to support the author.