One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seem further out of reach, it is clear that the need to find, fund and support transformative solutions for the challenges we are facing has grown more urgent.

In January 2020, Ashoka and McKinsey, together with Echoing Green, Schwab Foundation, Skoll Foundation and Co-Impact joined forces with systemic social entrepreneurs, united under the Catalyst 2030 banner, to produce a report that framed their endeavours: Embracing Complexity: towards a shared understanding of funding systems change.

Building on that foundation, the New Allies report explores how governments can benefit from collaborating with systemic social entrepreneurs, and the measures they can take to foster that collaboration.

The need for this report is undeniable. With multiple compounding crises to navigate simultaneously, governments across the world are coming under increased pressure to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. It is equally clear that governments will find it increasingly challenging to realise the structural changes to existing societal systems that are urgently required without the support of systemic social entrepreneurs.

Systemic social entrepreneurs develop participative, people-centric solutions and deliver innovative approaches which can be a great complement to the macro-level perspectives of governments. Systemic social entrepreneurs can be defined as transformation guides for society. They are driven not by economic profit but by the desire to make a positive impact on the world and to find innovative solutions to unsolved challenges.

Below, watch a video of Nicolas Schmit, the European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, endorsing the report.

Watch a recording of the New Allies report launch to hear Catalyst 2030 partners discuss the new research and report insights.

Systems social entrepreneurship is about a distinct way of approaching social problems, not about specific organizational forms or business models. To accelerate SDG achievement, we need to strengthen this entrepreneurial spirit and a culture of collaboration in all sectors."

Jeroo Billimoria
Chief Facilitator, Catalyst2030
Jeroo Bilimoria

In this extraordinary moment of global peril and promise, “New allies” is both a blueprint and rallying cry for how governments can work in partnership with social entrepreneurs in new ways that drive better results for communities in need. What if over time, social innovation became the way – rather than the exception to – how most of government...

Cheryl L. Dorsey
President, Echoing Green
Cheryl L Dorsey

We have an opportunity to build back better and greener, and in doing so, we need to address global environmental and social challenges whilst cementing a foundation built on a sound value system. This is a task ideally tailored to social entrepreneurs, who will define the future."

Vic van Vuuren
Director: Enterprises, International Labour Organization
Vic van Vuuren

Our collective future will be shaped by our commitment to bring about change at pace, at scale and at depth – systems social entrepreneurs are key to realising this.’

François Bonnici
Director, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, World Economic Forum
François Bonnici

There are already many synergies between social entrepreneurs and government, notably a focus on systems-level solutions to address urgent societal challenges – and when they partner together, they can create impact at greater scale. By pairing the innovative solutions from social entrepreneurs closest to the issues with the reach and expertise of...

Shivani Garg Patel
Chief Strategy Officer, Skoll Foundation
Shivani Garg Patel

Social entrepreneurs are the R&D engine for society – and government. They design, test and debug new approaches that tackle the root causes of social problems. Once shown to work, their innovations inform better policies that increase prosperity, participation and equity for citizens from all walks of life."

Konstanze Frischen
Global Leadership Member, Ashoka

Governments can act in five areas to create supportive ecosystems that unlock the potential of systems social entrepreneurs

For each of these areas, this report outlines concrete recommendations and provides real-life examples of changes that governments around the world have implemented.

Principle 1:

Leverage the power of information by sharing and co-creating data.

Principle 2:

Build capabilities among civil servants and systems social entrepreneurs to enable mutual understanding and collaboration.

Principle 3:

Develop funding models that recognise the characteristics of systems social entrepreneurs.

Principle 4:

Promote collaboration between public sector organisations and between the public, private and social sectors.

Principle 5:

Foster institutionalisation by co-creating or adopting successful innovations.

Ashoka Staff Contacts

Please contact Konstanze Frischen for inquires within the United States.

Please contact Odin Muehlenbein for inquires within Europe.