Years of supporting social entrepreneurship in the UK & Ireland.
Our Key Priorities
Whilst Ashoka has been supporting its Fellows over the last four decades, we have also seen a profound transformation in the dynamics of the world around them. Change began to accelerate. What used to take centuries now takes decades, and what used to take decades now takes years. Trying to fix broken systems involves new challenges to embrace these complex and ever-changing dynamics. For all the great work of social entrepreneurs, we cannot rely on them alone to create the scale of solutions now needed. Indeed, to achieve the necessary scale, we need everyone to step up. This is how Ashoka defines its strategy as we enter this new world – Everyone a Changemaker™.
Ashoka UK and Ireland has worked for over 15 years to support outstanding social innovators with transformative solutions to social issues and now focuses on the following areas:
Searching, selecting, and supporting UK and Ireland’s leading social entrepreneurs
For those elected as Fellows, Ashoka provides tailored lifetime support to scale their solutions’ impact. This ranges from initial monetary support, in the form of a stipend for up to three years, to strategic advice from a global network of peers, experts, and key decision-makers. Learn more about The Ashoka Fellowship programme and how you can get involved.
Enabling our society to embrace social innovation and changemaking
In the last 40 years, we have not only built the world’s largest community of leading social entrepreneurs but also continued to build and empower the field of social entrepreneurship. At the heart of this effort has always been the commitment to make systems change the central goal of social entrepreneurship. Learn more about our work in promoting systems change across sectors and how you can get involved.
Empowering all young people to become changemakers
Our mission is to trigger a shift in mindsets across the learning ecosystem in the UK and Ireland so that the experience of education empowers every young person to be a changemaker. Our approach to achieving this is to find, connect and organise social innovators, government, foundations, thought leaders and young people themselves that are already pioneering the field of changemaking. And then, to organise these communities to lead initiatives which eventually tip ecosystems toward a future in which every young person is becoming a changemaker. Here are some examples of young changemakers.
Our Community in the UK & Ireland
For more than 40 years, Ashoka has built and nurtured the largest network of leading social entrepreneurs in the world. After a rigorous selection process, they are introduced to a life-long Fellowship, where every member is committed to championing new patterns of social good. Collectively we co-create Ashoka’s vision of an Everyone a Changemaker world.
Ashoka Support Network
The Ashoka Support Network (ASN) is a global community of committed leaders who share, support, and advocate for Ashoka’s values and vision, whilst unleashing their own potential as changemakers. They join to give back to, learn from and co-create with our community of changemakers. With 350+ members worldwide, and 35 in the UK and Ireland, we have built a powerful network that amplifies our work towards an Everyone a Changemaker society.
Counting more than 300 schools globally to date, the Ashoka Changemaker Schools network aligns around a shared vision: to empower children and young people to be socially minded leaders, with the connection to purpose that enables them to effectively solve problems and drive positive change. In the UK & Ireland we have established a network of 30 Ashoka Changemaker Schools who prove that re imagining education is possible in every context: primary; secondary; free; religious; state-schools.
Nikki Gravning is Country Director of Ashoka UK with a core focus on partnerships to embed radical collaboration and changemaking for a better world into the corporate landscape. Before joining Ashoka, Nikki successfully led the Social Innovation Strategy for New Zealand’s National Innovation Agency to change the funding landscape for social entrepreneurs in the country. She has mentored social enterprises in accelerator programs and helped raise $2 million for New Zealand’s largest social enterprise in 2017. She is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper Alumni and a Centre for Sustainability Leadership Fellow from her days in Sydney, Australia.
Elena joined Ashoka in 2013 and leads the selection of new Ashoka Fellows as well as guiding them through Ashoka's rigorous election process. She also manages the Ashoka Support Network as well as the Ashoka Learning Journeys. Previously, Elena worked at Convoco - a think tank that seeks to drive social change by convening leaders from business, politics and academia. She also volunteered for the philanthropy consultancy GivingEvidence. Elena holds a BA in Business Administration from Free University Berlin and a MA in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics, where she specialised in the philosophy and politics of climate change.
Felix is the Director of Finance & Operations at Ashoka UK & Ireland, overseeing the finances, HR, governance and operation of the legal entity. Felix previously worked at Aon Hewitt where he became a qualified actuary and consulted on asset-liability management of pension schemes. He obtained an MSc on actuarial science at the Imperial College, and MMORSE at the University of Warwick on mathematics, operational research, statistics and economics (MORSE).
Jide is the Finance and Grant Manager (UK &NL) responsible for the financial accounting in the UK and managing the Philips AHA Grant in Netherlands. Before Ashoka, he was the Senior Finance Officer at We are with You, a leading drug, alcohol, and mental health UK charity set up to provide care, awareness, and support in making positive behavioural change to tackle addiction. Jide is a part qualified ACCA accountant, thriving toward towards qualification. He enjoys participating in tennis country walks and an Afrocentric that believes in the importance of change.
Alexandra is the Director of Community at Ashoka UK & Ireland, stewarding a thriving network of leading social entrepreneurs, senior business leaders, donors, supporters and partner organisations. Alexandra has a background in marketing and communications having worked in brand management roles at Procter & Gamble before setting up her own coaching and consulting practice. Through that she supported early stage purpose driven ventures with creative problem solving, business strategy and leadership development. She is an On Purpose Fellow and actively involved in numerous organisations as a volunteer.
Shafat is part of the Community team at Ashoka UK & Ireland, stewarding a thriving network of leading social entrepreneurs, young changemakers, business leaders, donors, supporters, and partner organisations. Shafat has a background in building programs to activate changemaking journeys, facilitating ideation sessions, marketing and communications having worked at various startup organisations. He led his own sustainable clothing brand and is extremely passionate about human rights within supply chains. Shafat grew up in Dhaka, Bangladesh and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia. Prior to being on the UK & Ireland team, Shafat worked at the Ashoka Global HQ.
Anu is a Partnerships & ASN Manager at Ashoka UK & Ireland, catalysing and managing funding and strategic relationships with organisations that support Ashoka’s vision. Anu is a former stockbroker at Morgan Stanley, with several years of experience in sales and relationship management. She is also an On Purpose Fellow with experience and interest in social and impact investment. Her change in career was sparked by experiences with purpose-driven organisations, fighting food waste with FoodCycle, and supporting the opening of the world's first Partition Museum in India.
Richard Johnson is a Challenge & Partnership Manager at Ashoka, working across the Changemakers and Ashoka UK teams. His work focuses you connecting corporates and social entrepreneurs to create lasting solutions to social and environmental problems. He formerly worked at the think-tank and consultancy Volans, researching and advising on business model innovation and the link between sustainability and entrepreneurship. He advised the corporate members of the UN Global Compact, the UK Government’s Innovation agency and a raft of sustainable startups. In 2015 he worked on launching the B Corp certification in the UK, building the community of the first 50 British B Corps. His thoughts on sustainable business have been published in Fast Company magazine and The Guardian.
Laura White is the Children and Youth Years Manager at Ashoka UK and Ireland. Previously, Laura launched the US Ashoka Changemaker Schools Network, taught early childhood education at a Changemaker School in Washington, DC, and was the Director of Operations at an early childhood education social enterprise. She holds a master's degree in early childhood special education and an MBA. Laura still loves volunteering with early years students.
Olivia is the first Greater Manchester Young Change Leader at Ashoka UK & Ireland, contributing to the UK office's EACH co-lead team to develop strategies for engaging young people in Greater Manchester and helping to raise their awareness of change making and Ashoka's EACH vision. Olivia is an award-winning activist and change maker, who has a background in leading regional and national campaigns. She is a proud working-class Mancunian and one day hopes to change the education system.
Supporting the UK & Ireland and Nordic Venture teams, Todd champions candidates for the Fellowship through our selection process. He is also helping to develop the UK & Ireland office's youth venture programme. Todd was a high school teacher before joining Ashoka and taught at schools in the U.S., China, Japan, Qatar, and the UK. He is a Fulbright Fellow with a keen interest in historiography and contemporary politics.
Tatiana is the senior venture manager leading the search for new Ashoka Fellows in the UK & Ireland. Tatiana's background is in international development and she holds an MSc from the London School of Economics in Gender, Development, and Globalisation. Alongside her work at Ashoka she is pursuing a PhD in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in elite philanthropy in the UK and her research focuses on power, accountability, and social change.
Fadzai is currently an intern for the Venture team at Ashoka, helping in the search for new Ashoka Fellows in the UK & Ireland. Fadzai's background is in Law and she has recently completed an MSc in Human Rights and Diplomacy at the University of Stirling. She is particularly interested in promoting racial and gender equality. In the past she has also volunteered for refugee organisations, assisting in resettlement and language learning. Alongside her work, Fadzai is an avid reader who also enjoys attending music festivals.
POEM PhD Candidate & UK Changemaker Schools Community Lead, Ashoka UK & Ireland
Elina is a PhD candidate at the Participatory Memory Practices (POEM) EU-Horizon 2020 project where she works with UK Changemaker Schools researching how children and young people participate in public memory making for the envisioning of educational futures; she is also the Community Lead for the UK Changemaker School network. Elina has a background in education and life sciences and has worked in social innovation projects in the fields of K-12 education, lifelong learning and citizen science. In 2018 she has been awarded the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions fellowship. Elina launched for the first time the global secret gig project Sofar Sounds in Thessaloniki, Greece, which run between 2015 and 2019.
International Staff in the UK & Ireland
I've spent almost 40 years fighting for the underdogs. It has been an incredible privilege to be able to do this, in many countries, and through a variety of formal roles many of which I created myself. I have self-identified as a social entrepreneur since I first met Bill Drayton in 1987 and he introduced me to the concept. My roles within Ashoka have also varied over the years, including funder, volunteer, staff, and consultant. Ashoka is my spiritual home and my Hotel California (you can check out but you can never leave).
Clarice joined Ashoka in 2012 and was responsible for structuring the UK’s back-office. Since 2016, she’s been leading the finance and operations team across Ashoka’s 10+ offices in Europe. In her previous life, Clarice worked for more than 10 years with hospitality, travel and tourism, and was the COO of a travel agency in Rio de Janeiro. She moved to Europe to pursue a double-diploma MA in Sustainable Tourism Management from London Metropolitan University & ESCEM Business School (France), where she specialised in community-based tourism. When living in France, she also worked for CENTRAIDER (Centre for International Cooperation and Solidarity) in Tours, and for the Auvergne Region Tourist Board, in Clermont-Ferrand.
Pip is the Country Director of Ashoka in the UK. Australian by birth, she has spent the majority of her career in South Africa. Prior to moving to the UK, Pip founded a youth development organisation in South Africa, enke: Make Your Mark. In early 2015, after six years as enke’s CEO, she handed over the reigns to study an MBA at Saïd Business School, Oxford. In addition, she has also consulted on innovative finance at the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship; mapped the entrepreneurial support landscape across Africa for the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading; and facilitated strategy development. For her work in social innovation she’s been awarded a Skoll Scholarship, an Ashoka Fellowship; and she was a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. She currently still serves on the board of enke as a non-executive director.
Mark is a member of the Leadership Group at Ashoka, based in Hong Kong. Mark started with Ashoka in 2007 as a Senior Advisor on Social Finance, based in London. He became UK Director in 2011, and European Director in 2014. Mark led the European Diamond from 2014-19, before moving to Hong Kong where he has launched the Hong Kong Chapter for Ashoka. Prior to joining Ashoka, Mark founded Chelwood Capital, a global social investment advisory firm, which he continues to actively manage. Mark is recognized as a pioneer in impact investment, and over the past decade has helped raise over $250mn for social causes in areas including micro-finance, clean energy, healthcare, education and conservation. He is a Director of Emerge Education, a leading incubator for ed/tech start-ups, and a founding member of the ClearlySo Angels network, the UK’s first angel investment network for impact investors.
Shrushti is a trained psychologist and comes with an unconventional mix of private and public sector experience. In her most recent role, she is working with Ashoka Innovators for the Public, the organization that pioneered the sector of social entrepreneurship 30+ years ago. She is building the world’s largest network of 3,700+ leading social entrepreneurs, amplifying and connecting a global community that is leading the everyone a changemaker movement. Shrushti recognized the unarguable economic market opportunity and environmental benefits of recycling waste and co-founded Reash, a company that is working on waste management and building circular systems across South Asia. Yoga has a major influence in her life. She has been teaching yoga since the age of 18, with the intention of helping young adults develop a problem-solving attitude through the art form.