Ashoka Fellows are the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. They champion innovative new ideas that transform society’s systems, providing benefits for everyone and improving the lives of millions of people. Ashoka Fellows define the new roadmaps that allow people to thrive in this new environment, while providing solutions and demonstrating the how-tos. They are the ultimate role models in today’s world.
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Ashoka Fellows in India
The first Ashoka Fellow, Gloria D’Souza, was elected in India in 1980. She was a teacher in the private school system who believed that the only way to mitigate climate change was for children to learn about our environment deeply so they could act differently. Gloria D’Souza is the reason Environmental Science is a compulsory subject in every school in India today.
Since 1980, Ashoka has continued to select and support the work of social entrepreneurs like Gloria, who have led some of the biggest changes in our society, like Jeroo Billimoria, the founder of Childline 1098, and Kailash Satyarthi, who is credited with ending child labour in India. The Ashoka Venture and Fellowship team believes in finding these leading social entrepreneurs early on in their trajectory, and supporting them in accelerating their social impact.
We think of our Fellows as role models of the most effective way to solve social problems. Our criteria for selecting Ashoka Fellows represents what we believe are the traits a leader needs to solve social problems most effectively. Therefore, we look for people who have -
Systems Changing New Ideas: new ideas that create new roles for citizens, new purposes for institutions, new relationships between actors
Creativity: are creatively organizing teams and engineering collaborations
Entrepreneurial Quality: are exhibiting empathetic new leadership to build changemaker teams, communities and team of teams;
Social Impact: are recruiting and catalyzing more changemakers in society;
Ethical Fiber: are using transparency and openness to build trust among their stakeholders.
Once, we elect an Ashoka Fellow, we then support them in accelerating their social impact by investing in them as leaders, and growing their leadership capacities. This includes investing in their personal wellbeing, challenging their assumptions about their role as a leader, enabling them to organise their teams, partners and communities most effectively towards social impact. Through workshops, retreats, and conferences where we bring the entire Ashoka network of Fellows, Youth Venturers, School leaders, and partners together, Ashoka builds a community around Fellows that supports them in solving the most critical challenges of our times.