Our Vision and Objectives
Ashoka envisions a world where everyone is a changemaker – a world that responds quickly and effectively to social challenges, where each individual has the freedom, confidence and societal support to drive system change.
To develop and sustain ideas for social change, we offer critical intervention on three levels:
- Supporting social entrepreneurs – social entrepreneurs are the engines of social change. Ashoka identifies and invests in leading social innovators and helps them to achieve maximum social impact.
- Promoting group entrepreneurship – networks of social entrepreneurs working together accelerate and spread social impact. Ashoka engages communities of entrepreneurs and supports collaborations that impact entire fields.
- Building infrastructure for the sector – a global network of changemakers requires tools and support systems to deliver sustainable solutions. Ashoka creates the needed infrastructure, such as access to social financing as well as bridges to business and academic sectors.
What We Do
Ashoka is dedicated to creating the world’s largest and most powerful network of Changemakers by searching for and selecting leading social entrepreneurs across the world: our Ashoka Fellows. These Fellows have demonstrated a commitment to social change and system transformation, and they offer innovative solutions to current problems. At Ashoka, we provide these entrepreneurs with a global network, expertise and new possibilities for upscaling their innovations.
Ashoka pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship almost 40 years ago, and today it continues to build the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs. Since 2014, when Ashoka was launched in the Netherlands, we have elected and supported a number of Dutch Ashoka Fellows who are bringing system change in the Netherlands and beyond.
The selection of Ashoka Fellows occurs through a rigorous and human-centred process: the Venture Program. Across the globe, we use the following selection criteria and process to elect Ashoka Fellows:
We make sure that the Ashoka brand, the engagements we curate and facilitate, and the connections we open are beneficial to each Fellow. We invite Fellows to make the most of the network through interactions that will increase opportunities to accelerate their social impact.
We deliver value to our Fellows in 5 key areas:
Ashoka Support Network (ASN)
The Ashoka Support Network (ASN) is a global community of successful, innovative leaders from a variety of fields, who connect with the world's leading social entrepreneurs to accelerate positive social change. They support Ashoka financially as well as strategically, offering their time, network and expertise.
In the Netherlands, we have a strong community of ASN members who provide their guidance and expertise to Ashoka Fellows and Changemaker Schools, supporting them to amplify their social impact. They do so in several key ways:
- Providing Mentorship
- Building Networks for Fellows
- Becoming Ambassadors for Fellows and Ashoka
- Sitting on Advisory Boards
- Investing Resources
- Bringing in Expertise
- Building New Partnerships
Globally, the Ashoka Support Network consists of over 400 members in 20 countries throughout Europe, North America, South America, India, and beyond - as it continues to expand.
Would you like to support the world's top social innovators?
Join the Ashoka Support Network by contacting [email protected] to learn more about how you can drive positive change.
Empathy & Young Changemaking
In a world of rapid change, effective collaboration is essential to capture or confront the complex opportunities and challenges ahead. The foundation of such a collaborative effort must be built on empathy: the ability to understand and respond to the feelings of others. In a changemaker world, empathy is as fundamental as reading, writing and math. At Ashoka, we are working every day to build and cultivate a community of change leaders to redefine success in growing up and inspire every young person to become an empathetic changemaker.
We believe that anyone can become a changemaker and we strive for a world in which every young person is equipped and inclined to contribute to the common good. In order to empower every young person to become a changemaker, we need to change the way in which we educate young people. Ashoka launched the Changemaker Schools Programme in 2012 to build a community of education institutions that prioritize the cultivation of empathy, teamwork, leadership, and changemaking in their students.
Ashoka Netherlands has selected 9 Changemaker Schools. Once selected, the schools are connected with each other and with Ashoka’s community of social entrepreneurs and supporters from different sectors with the aim of reshaping the traditional education system.
We build Co-Creation & Changemaker Alliances where our Ashoka Fellows, businesses, and policy makers complement one another’s skills and expertise to take on challenges that no one could solve alone, and simultaneously create access to new strategic win-win opportunities.
The Philips Foundation - Accelerating Healthcare Access
The Philips Foundation and Ashoka are cooperating in a multi-year program, Accelerating Healthcare Access (AHA), to accelerate access to healthcare around the world by connecting social entrepreneurship with industry skills and exploring collaborative action. This unique cross-sector collaboration envisions to create shared value that will increase healthcare access for disadvantaged communities.
Nestlé/Vittel - Act for Biodiversity
Ashoka Netherlands joined the global Nestlé partnership and is specifically managing the collaboration with Vittel, focusing on Ashoka's Next Now theme 'Planet & Climate'.
Together Ashoka and Vittel launched the “Act For Biodiversity” Challenge, looking for already-implemented solutions with a system approach that engage people and organizations across sectors to preserve biodiversity. The winners will all share a financial stipend of €150,000 and the first two will get access to an “Accelerator” program to scale up their project: a 2,5-month program with online courses and mentoring from Nestlé business leaders and other thought leaders, as a mutual learning experience to prepare the ground for future collaborations and co-creation. The third and fourth winners will receive personalized coaching by our partner AT Kearney.
RoundGlass - Learning for Holistic Wellbeing
Ashoka Netherlands entered into a partnership with the RoundGlass Foundation to create the first ever Learning for Holistic Wellbeing Summit, which took place in Jaisalmer, India from 19 to 22 February 2020. The Summit brought together more than 120 of the world's most visionary leaders in the field of education (including 17 Ashoka Fellows and 4 Ashoka Young Changemakers) to collaborate and collectively re-envision the future of education systems around the globe. The vision is to build learning ecosystems where teachers and non-formal educators can learn to support the growth and wellbeing of children holistically; including physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual ways of learning.
Google Impact Challenge on Safety
In 2019, Ashoka partnered with Google on The Google.org Impact Challenge on Safety: a €10m fund to support organisations across Europe that are working on challenges related to hate, extremism, and child safety, both online and offline. By funding new and existing community projects across Europe, the objective is to support initiatives to counter hate and extremism, helping young people to become confident digital citizens.
Never before has the impact of humanity on Earth been so decisive for planetary well-being and humanity's future as now.
I believe we must now place our resources in education and specifically in growing children's skills in empathy, positive psychology, self-awareness, collaboration, leadership and creativity. Only then will children be able to recognize problems and find solutions to the increasing challenges that they will face during their lifetimes. We really need to rethink the systems we have created, becoming the new system and collaborating to act together.
I found an organization 18 years ago, focusing on vulnerable young people in prison, 'Young in Prison', where I have seen in reality how all children CAN transform. With my initiative, I was rewarded with an Ashoka fellowship and I have since fallen in love with Ashoka's mission: 'everyone a changemaker'.
Erlijn holds two Master degrees, in Industrial Engineering & Management Sciences and in South East Asian languages and cultures. She started her career in the corporate sector, working as an advisor for major Dutch companies like ABN, KLM and Philips. Erlijn is currently leading the Accelerating Healthcare Access Partnership with Philips. Next to being director of Ashoka Nederlands in the past years Erlijn is a social entrepreneur: co-founder of Microkrediet voor Moeders, an MFI operating in South & Southeast Asia. She was MD of the Banking with the Poor network (SIngapore) and HandsOn Microfinance (Amsterdam) too. And recently she founded Credits for Communities, a Global Movement aiming to increase the access to community-owned solutions that increase the well-being of the community at large. Erlijn's ambition is to contribute to a more just economy, accessible for the poor, with a special focus on social enterpreneurship, inclusive finance and Asia.
Karin holds a Masters degree in Arts & Culture Sciences. She is an experienced co-founder and executive director with a demonstrated history of working in social and cultural entrepreneurship. Preferred theme: talent development, learning & education.