As you are reading this, the term ‘social entrepreneur’ most likely will be familiar to you. How different it was 35 years ago, when we first put those two words together to describe men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Since those early days, we have helped lead the global movement of social entrepreneurship into a new era.
Ashoka is best-known as the leading global network of social entrepreneurs. We build networks of pattern-changing social innovators and find high-impact entrepreneurs who creatively solve some of the world’s biggest social challenges.
We select Fellows on their personal drive to change the systems within which they work to solve social and environmental issues. It is this drive and entrepreneurial quality which to date has led 56% of Fellows to effect a national public policy change. Ashoka Fellows are provided with a multi-year financial stipend, plus access to our extended and expert network for a lifetime of support.
Our work with the world’s leading social entrepreneurs has convinced us that a ‘changemaking’ approach is the only way to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Social entrepreneurs, however, cannot fix the planet alone. It will require the collaboration of every player in society, from families to global institutions and everything in between, to create lasting change.
Everyone a changemaker
The pace of change is accelerating. Social problems are intensifying worldwide. We believe it is essential for humanity to live and work differently from now on. People, businesses, organisations, communities and nations need to be thinking about innovating for the good of all, all the time, and creating ways for one another to lead change.
Our vision is a world where everyone is a changemaker. A world where all people everywhere are capable and confident to respond quickly, with resilience, creativity and empathy. A world where leadership and teamwork are used to take on any challenge or opportunity.
A changemaker is someone who notices that the world is changing and sees themselves not as an object of change - a person that change happens to - but an agent of change: someone who solves problems and makes progress. Together with schools, universities, parents, pupils, students and policy makers, we work to make changemaker skills an integral part of every young person’s education.
We believe that an ‘everyone a changemaker ‘ world is within our grasp. To achieve it, the roles of citizens and workers need to integrate. Businesses must see universal strengths in teamwork, initiative, leadership and the foundational skill of empathy.
We need businesses to lead the way in new, integrated and essential partnerships with social entrepreneurs. Ashoka supports the development of new social-business frameworks like inclusive business, B-corporations and the Hybrid Value Chain. These initiatives turn mutual goals into legitimate business structures. Ultimately, they revolutionise views, values, metrics, management and leadership for outcomes that produce both profit and social value.
With more than 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in over 80 nations and country offices on five continents, we are part of a global team of changemakers.