3 Tidbits About Ashoka Social Entrepreneurship

This website tries to promote social entrepreneurship worldwide – But there are other organizations that have been promoting social entrepreneurship for a long time! Learn more about Ashoka, a pioneer in helping social entrepreneurs turn world changing ideas into reality.

1. Ashoka Social Entrepreneurship Pioneer Bill Drayton

HA0521-036 [Photo by Highways Agency] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Ashoka social entrepreneurship founder Bill Drayton views the 2,700 Ashoka Fellows working in the field today as a Geiger counter for detecting big economic and social shifts.

He looks for patterns in their ideas, which give a good indication of what’s possible now and also where social enterprise is headed in the future. It’s the questions that arise that tell you where the world is going, according to Drayton.

These questions drive him to find solutions to the world’s difficult problems and anticipate those to come. Drayton created his global organization based on the core belief that everyone is a changemaker. He’s helped thousands of social entrepreneurs to empower many more people globally on a shared quest to create a better world.

Drayton succinctly sums up what he sees as the world’s greatest future opportunity and potential threat in two words: human capital.

2. Ashoka Social Entrepreneurship Fellows

Ashoka social entrepreneurship fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who are recognized by Ashoka as having innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society.

They demonstrate unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas, and prove that compassion, creativity and collaboration can create high-impact social change. Ashoka Fellows currently work in over 60 countries around the world, and their work addresses every area of human need. All Ashoka Fellows undergo a rigorous search and selection process where they must demonstrate how they fully meet Ashoka’s selection criteria.

Ashoka decides which candidates to nominate based on five criteria: A knockout new idea, creativity, entrepreneurial quality, social impact of the idea, and ethical fiber. Ethical fiber is important because social entrepreneurs introducing major structural changes to society have to ask a lot of people to change the way they do things. If the entrepreneur cannot gain trust, the likelihood of success is significantly reduced.

3. Ashoka Social Entrepreneurship in Latin America

Mountain conversations [Photo by kevin dooley] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Ashoka social entrepreneurship model in Latin America was the topic of a panel discussion by leading entrepreneurs at Brown University recently. The panel featured Diana Wells, president of Ashoka, Marta Echavarria, founder of EcoDecision and Orazio Bellettini, executive director of Advance of Reforms and Opportunities (FARO).

They discussed how the venture capital funding that Ashoka provides to social entrepreneurs frees them to focus all of their energy and time on developing and implementing their innovative ideas. Both Echavarria and Bellettini are recipients of the Ashoka Fellowship. The social firm EcoDecision, which Echavarria co-founded, focuses on the protection of ecosystem services in the Andes.

Bellettini’s organization, FARO, is an Ecuadorian-based think tank that fosters citizen participation in strengthening the public policy framework to promote development and equity. According to Wells, Ashoka is the first truly global association for social entrepreneurs, giving them moral support and the benefits of a “network effect” to increase their impact.