Do these ✨ changemaking ✨ qualities resonate with you?

Changemakers are united through:

  • Empathy
  • Creativity 
  • The ability to lead oneself as well as inspire and lead others 
  • Critical thinking  
  • The ability to identify societal challenges and desire to find a solution to them!
  • The changemakers actively engage in societal challenges and believe we all have the opportunity and ability to influence on questions that are important.

Are you the next Young Changemaker of the Year? In this program, we looked for youth who are:

  • Between the ages of 18-25 years old based in Finland;
  • A changemaker who has established, alone or together with a team, a social initiative that enhances equality, promotes sustainable development and climate solutions, or otherwise strengthens the social participation of young people;
  • Young changemakers who have already rolled up their sleeves and taken action. We are interested in solutions whose implementation has begun and around which there is a team taking the implementation forward.

See the list below to find out the criteria for this award.

Meet the Finalists for 2023's edition

Dagmar Ilonoja

Dagmar Ilonoja

Operaatio Arktis, Co-Founder

Operaatio Arktis conducts a comprehensive risk analysis of global warming and the state of natural systems from a perspective relevant to the younger generation.

The project aims to bring together researchers, policy makers, young people, decision makers, businesses, environmentalists and other organisations through networking, science communication and collaborative events.

“Our goal is to get the Finnish government to immediately start a technological intervention to fix the Arctic sea ice.”

Mathilda Selin

Mathilda Selin

Qaareva Ry, President and Founder

Mathilda is a passionate changemaker who finds joy with community work and work tirelessly for human rights whether it’s in the field of activism, working with refugee services or with the LGBTQIA+ NGO Mathilda founded, Qaareva Ry.

Qaareva Ry was founded to advocate LGBTQIA+ rights, bring community together, race awareness, hold space for queer culture and safer spaces for LGBTQIA+ youth and students in universities and in society as whole.

"Our philosophy is to be open for all LGBTQIA+ people regardless of student or work status."

Panashe Kauhanen

Panashe Kauhanen


Panashe’s main focus is fashion that he uses as his tool to promote inclusion among youth. FASHCENE is Åbo/Turku’s first ever Fashion show held annually in the city with live performances and selected designers (Independent, Students or Freelancers).

Through FASHCENE, Panashe aims to give youth a voice and a platform where they may freely express themselves, without the fear of being judged for doing what they love and taking a different path to what is considered ordinary. 

“Without fear of failure to do what they love, without the shackles of not having the right education or anything of the such.”

Piki Rantanen

Piki Rantanen

Human rights activist, performer and content creator

Piki is a 25 year old non-binary transgender activist from Tampere, Finland. Piki is known for ze art, such as make up and spoken word poetry as well as ze informational instagram page, where Piki discusses human rights focusing on LGBTQIA+ issues.

Piki’s initiative is to loudly and publicly speak out about every day- and legal struggles that trans people face in Finland and globally. Piki’s goal is not only to inform people of the struggles trans people face, but also be loud about the pride of being trans: The joy, the unique beautiful experiences, the love of the community Piki’s vision is not only to make trans people a visible, equal, recognized part of society, but even more so to convey a message that gender diversity is something we should celebrate and embrace.

Pinja Perholehto

Pinja Perholehto

Demarinuoret, President

Demarinuoret is a national political youth organization. Their activities are aimed at young people aged 15–29 who want to influence social issues in a like-minded group.

Pinja believes that we all have the right to education, work, well-being and a happy life, by making sure that everyone has an equal and equal opportunity to live and fulfil themselves, so that it does not weaken the opportunities of others. 

"I strive to change the world in ways guided by values such as solidarity, equality and sustainable development. We are a feminist organisation defending the principles of democracy, solidarity and internationalism.”

Ubuntu Film Club

Ubuntu Film Club

Co-Founders Rewina, Fiona and Alice

The Ubuntu Film Club team consists of Alice, producer and event organizer, Fiona, filmmaker and artist and Rewina, community educator and event organizer.

Ubuntu Film Club brings people together, giving young people a platform to share their thoughts and opinions on important societal issues without the pressure to use academic language. Their target group is black and brown youth (16-25). They want to expose them to films from all over the world made by African and Black filmmakers. The goal is to create a safer space for people who are interested in their stories and who want to share their own as well. In their words:

"We are a collective that organises free film screening and events for black and brown youth all around Helsinki. Our aim is to expand narratives with a twist of fun.”




Levisncoffee is passionate about and is inspired by aesthetics from earlier periods, especially the period between 1920-1950.

Levisncoffee's dream is to be able to collaborate with a company that manufactures eco-friendly cosmetic products and designs their packaging and tools in a vintage style.

"I would love to bring back the beauty of these eras within the makeup industry, to have the opportunity to design and create environmentally friendly makeup compacts in vintage style.”

Vera Linden.png

Vera Lindén

Vera is passionate about inclusion, non-white minorities, anti-racism, multilingualism, intercultural dialogue and institutional discrimination.

She has worked to support individuals who belong to a linguistic, cultural and/or religious minority in the Finnish society, developing competence in antiracist work and intercultural communication as well as developing new guidelines for inclusion in workplaces and educational institutions. She believes that:

“Knowledge is a tool through which everyone can learn to empower themselves and others. Accessible technology and increased literacy are the most powerful means for combatting “knowledge poverty” in the world. The internet has opened up access to education, new businesses and learning new skills in a way that has never been seen before.”

Maija Kuivalainen

Maija Kuivalainen

Advocate & Activator

Maija is a 24 year old All in-advocate from Joensuu, Eastern Finland. By all in, Maija is a person who has found a way to connect the levels of advocacy by building bridges between these different levels and actors. In 2018, Maija became a climate activist and one year later, she created the concept of her All in -idea. Soon after that, she established the Kestävä Pieksämäki group.

Maija has been able to create impact in diverse ways: building the all in-network and method to mobilise people to act jointly, avoid duplication of work and create a real impact.

“One of the main problems of Finnish environment and climate advocacy has been that the actors are working in silos. Together with All in-network, those members could jointly fighting to solve the triple planetary crisis – climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and the root causes of these crises like overconsumption, inequality and lack of common regulation.”

Meet the 2023 Jury

🔥 Selection Criteria

The Changemaker of the Year 2023 is awarded to two young individuals based on the following criteria:

✨ Ethical Fiber

The changemaker recognizes empathy as a key attribute by respecting, listening and showing compassion to others. 

💭 Entrepreneurialism

The changemaker shows passion to create and lead initiatives that drive positive development in society.

💡 New idea

The candidate has identified and shed light on a societal challenge and has founded an initiative to tackle that challenge with a new idea.

⚡ Innovative solution

The candidate has proven creative and critical thinking trough an innovative solution that aims to solve the identified challenge. The solution aims for long-term change.

✊🏾 Cooperation

The candidate has mobilized a team or organization around the idea, and understands the gift to lead both themselves and others, in line with responsible leadership.

💜 Social Impact

The initiative has provided positive social impact and holds the potential for larger-scale and longer-lasting change that not only benefits the current society but also future generations.

🧩 Coaching

The Changemaker has implemented the idea through responsible practices and holds the potential and interest to further develop their skills.

What do the winners get?

Mentoring & Tools for development

The winners will be matched with experienced mentors who can guide them and help them develop their initiatives further.

Access to Ashoka's international network

We connect the Young Changemakers of the Year to Ashoka's global network of leading social entrepreneurs and young changemakers.

Ashoka supports over 3800 leading social entrepreneurs in more than 90 countries that have succeeded in scaling their innovative solutions internationally.


By inspiring and empowering the young changemakers and gaining a closer relationship with each of the finalists, the Young Changemaker of the Year award is a journey filled with network connections, great engagement from mentors and jury members as well as visibility and media outreach through Ashoka’s digital channels, and the participation at events both in the Nordics and globally. 

Read more

What are the phases of this program?

Strategic coaching and mentoring

The two recipients of this award will receive strategic coaching and mentoring from Ashoka’s network of experts for developing their ideas and accelerating their impact. The coaching will take place on agreed dates  between February and June 2023.

Network support

In addition to the tailor-made coaching and mentoring, the young awardees will receive network support from Ashoka for connecting with a Nordic and international community of likeminded youth through events, summits and other global opportunities such as online forums within the social entrepreneurship field.

Learn more about young people who are creating an Everyone a Changemaker world.

Inspiring workshops

A half-day workshop will be designated to map and outline the specific needs of the Changemakers and the areas of expertise the mentors will be contributing. 

Furthermore, during the program period, the awardees will also participate in strategic workshops on team-work and finance, as well as an on-site visit with leading social entrepreneurs whose social innovations are solving some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

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Ashoka is the world's largest network of social entrepreneurs and changemakers, with over 3,800 so-called Ashoka Fellows in 94 countries. These include Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Ashoka supports members of its network to develop social innovations and create positive societal change.

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Louise och Göran Ehrnrooths stiftelse

The Louise and Göran Ehrnrooth Foundation supports long-term projects in education, research, environmental protection, culture and societal activities in Finland. The foundation has partnered with Ashoka to support Young Changemakers and their solutions to societal challenges.

Learn More

In the Nordic region, we have advocated for youth leadership towards inclusive and sustainable development over the last ten years.

In January 2021, the Young Changemaker of the Year award was conducted for the first time in Finland. The winners of last year's 2022, Viral Vegans and the the Peace and Well-being organization were connected to experienced mentors to gain support for developing their solutions further.

With this award, Ashoka has established a network of young Changemakers and an increased understanding of the support needed for young leaders in the Nordics and internationally.

Application period dated from: 21 November - 18 December

Get inspired! Meet the Top finalists for 2022's edition

Ruhan Anjan Kartik

Ruhan Anjan Kartik

Ruhan has been an active part of different local institutions, working as a member of the local Youth Council in Finland for three years. He co-founded MUNDO out of a love for debate and seeing how the medium could both educate youth and give them a platform to affect the world around them.

MUNDO has engaged youth across the world in current global issues and taught people the basics of debate.

Enja Seppänen

Enja Seppänen

Enja is part of a freshly established art collective with a vision of art that speaks out loud and cannot be expressed with words. She is the director of a modern dance production called Emma ja Elham, a story about poverty, loneliness and education in Finland.

Enja is a firm believer of dialogue and believes that art holds a special potential in initiating more understanding and empathic dialogue.

Nermin Karaoglan

Nermin Karaoglan

Nermin Karaoglan is the Co-founder of Suomen Kulttuurienvälinen Yhteisö Nuoriso, a working group which aims to ensure the well-being of society, minimizing disparities and avoiding marginalization by developing a community of shared values, challenges, and equal opportunities.

Nermin initiated SKY Nuoriso to help youth living in Finland learn more about civil society activism and to be active members of society, towards less segregation and exclusion.

Ronny Eriksson

Ronny Eriksson

Ronny Eriksson is the Co-founder of Ambitious.Africa, a global movement that breaks down intergenerational and cultural barriers — allowing thousands of young people to lead the change supported by local governments.

Ambitious.Africa offers a platform for everyone to grow their skills in what they are interested in. Learning by doing, doing together through low barrier knowledge sharing, mentoring and real ownership in projects.