Changemaking: what is it and why is it now so important

Changemaking is the superpower of the 21st century. We need it to improve prosperity. We need it to solve complex social problems. And we need it to be resilient in the wake of a pandemic – or whatever unexpected, tangled problem comes next.

In these challenging times, we need to develop truly resilient societies while focusing on the qualities of individuals. We need empathy to recognize and understand the problems that others are facing. We need a commitment to the common good to accept restrictions in our personal life. And we need agency and the ability to self-organize to reorient our activities in this time of crisis and to help people in need.

Empathy, purpose, agency, teamwork. At Ashoka, we call people with these qualities “changemakers”. 

These changemaking skills are also central common denominators to the social entrepreneurs that Ashoka has been working with ever since 1980. As the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs, Ashoka has supported nearly 4000 groundbreaking social innovations across 93 countries. These social entrepreneurs who we call Ashoka Fellows are people who change systems in society because they see that the current systems aren’t working for the good of all.

The new normal that Sasu Laukkonen is talking about in our interview, is something these social entrepreneurs envision everyday, irrespective of whether there is a crisis or not. Their work directly impacts the life of millions of people around the world, precisely because they have the courage to address problems before we as a society identify them as priorities.

Ashoka social entrepreneurs serve as role models and provide the how-tos that enable individuals, organizations, and whole societies to flourish in a world of rapid change.

"One person can truly make a difference, but for sustainable results we need collaboration."

Artist Katriina Haikala focuses on human rights issues in her work. She calls for equal, global solutions. Ashoka pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship more than 35 years ago, and today it continues to build the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs in Finland.

In addition, Ashoka Fellows directly impact the lives of millions of people across the globe. They also provide examples, ideas, and insights that can serve as a roadmap in the new “everyone a changemaker” world.

By continuing to develop our expansive network of Fellows — providing financial, knowledge, and logistical support to more than 3,500 change leaders in 93 countries — Ashoka works to share the wisdom of leading social entrepreneurs with a global audience.

Ashoka provides this unique network of Fellows with financial, knowledge, and logistical support, making sure they succeed. If you want to recommend an Ashoka Fellow, be a part of this mission and learn from passionate social entrepreneurs, join usandrecommend a Fellow here.

Supporting young people working for social change

At Ashoka, we believe empowering youth is crucial if we want to achieve long-lasting change, and that’s why we want to help as many young people as possible to strengthen the skills needed to pursue it. From Ashoka, we collaborate to transform institutions and cultures so that they support young changemakers that are working for the good of society.

Among our key partners are Changemaker campuses, Changemaker schools, non-profits, religious organizations, media partners, as well as businesses and government leaders.These partnerships have enabled us to support Young Changemakers globally, providing leadership and communications training, networking with our allies in business and the non-profit sector and focusing on how to scale the impact of each bold idea. And we have seen that when we support young changemakers we often support activists for life – a recent global study among social entrepreneurs showed that almost half of Ashoka Fellows have started their first changemaking initiative before the age of 21. In addition, 55 percent of our Fellows work directly with young people, and of that group, 53 percent put young people in charge of leading initiatives and projects within their organizations.

In our interview with Isaac Sene, a young artist and changemaker from Finland, he shares his hopes for the post Covid-19 world: that people would be less concerned with profit, in a way that would enable better outcomes for people and planet. His thoughts echo those of many of his peers – Generation Z:ers are known to highlight a sense of purpose, concern for the future of the planet and the willingness to take action to change things.

Ashoka has been working with social entrepreneurs across the globe since 1980, and we have supported nearly 4000 changemakers who bring forward examples, ideas, and insights that serve as new roadmaps in our rapidly changing world.

Now we want to find inspiring Finnish changemakers to include in our network – if you’re the one we are looking for, get in touch! And if you want to join us to support Young Changemakers, we want to hear from you too!