- Isha Datar
Shuttleworth Fellows tackle problems that few others recognise or see. They reimagine and reinvent systems, challenge the status quo, and trade in the comfort and security of ‘normal’ careers for dedicating their lives to their cause. On paper, this seems an exciting adventure. In reality, each fellow must find their way through a dense and tangled pathway, often alone, far ahead of anyone else in the field. As a result, their journey is challenging, exhausting, and isolating.
As enablers, not funders, we work hard to ease these burdens. But we do not have all the answers. To give each fellow more support, we connect them with a network of like-minded others - the fellowship - where they can find common ground, draw inspiration, and share stories from the front lines. This non-hierarchal community has evolved over time, with each new fellow and every individual lesson learned feeding into an ever-growing, collective pool of knowledge.
Creating a true fellowship is no easy task. It requires patience and trust from both sides, and an agreement to work together with care, honesty, and mutual respect. But our long-term commitment to nurturing this idea has been rewarded exponentially. The vast majority of fellows remain actively engaged, and each new addition to the flock has broadened our perspective and expanded our network reach. It has also become influential: we advised the Open Society Foundation, Patrick M. McGovern Foundation, and the Obama Foundation on starting their fellowship programmes.