Story bubbles on world map
Source: Ashoka


Arlington, VA – August 12, 2016.  Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, which supports the world’s largest network of  social entrepreneurs, is launching a six-month global campaign featuring leading changemakers – youth, Ashoka Fellows, as well as CEOs and others who began their journey as social or business entrepreneurs during their teen years. #leadyoung.

The campaign debuts today, August 12, in honor of International Youth Day and is highlighting stories and videos of great changemakers on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

According to two internal surveys, the majority of Ashoka’s leading social entrepreneur Fellows had their first changemaking experience before age 20.  This pattern of early achievement also holds for the business sector: a recent study based on LinkedIn data for all professionals (400 million or 66 percent of total professionals) found that those who signaled they started something noteworthy in their teens are four times more likely to be entrepreneurs and four times more likely to be a top corporate (C-level) executives.

“We are all in a new game – one where change begets and multiplies change. The old game, which sought efficiency in repetition (think professional firm and assembly line) and was characterized by walls and rules, is dying—awkwardly and painfully,” said Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka.  “Now, to play, everyone needs to be a changemaker. And that requires starting and practicing in the teens. That’s always been true: Today’s great entrepreneurs and leaders overwhelmingly first started something in their teens. Now any society that doesn’t make this experience the norm will miss the turn and find itself toast.”

Examples of leading social and business entrepreneurs and youth featured in the campaign include:

Jeroo Billimoria, founder of Childline. Jeroo was encouraged by her mother at a young age to be entrepreneurial, initially as a student helping to change how math and English were taught in the Parsi Schools in Mumbai, India. Later, as a young adult she became internationally known as the founder of Childline.

Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar. Robin later created Buzzcar and she is now leading Veniam, which has found a way to create city or port-wide steady wifi coverage. Her entrepreneurial journey began at age nine when she created and sold bookmarks. As a 19-year-old sophomore at Wellesley College she launched the Philosophy Club to make “intellectual cool.”

Akshat Mittal, Ashoka Youth Venturer launched when he was 13 years old.  Akshat created the car pooling website and app that was later acquired by Orahi, a carpool platform backed by the Indian Angel network after the Delhi government launched the Odd Even transportation initiative (a rule to run vehicles with odd and even numbers on alternate days). Two years later, Akshat was selected as an Ashoka Youth Venturer. He developed another app and credits his work with Ashoka to helping him launch other ventures.

Richard Branson, founder CEO, Virgin. At age 16 Richard launched a magazine called STUDENT  — the first issue included an interview with Vanessa Redgrave. While still a teen he was able to persuade his parents to let him set up an office in a London basement and he began selling discount music records in the back of the magazine, leading to the creation of Virgin Records which he later sold for  $1 billion dollars.

To learn more about these changemakers and others who started young, follow #leadyoung on Twitter and Facebook.

Ashoka media partners include LinkedIn,, United World Colleges, and Social Media Impact Awards (SIMA) 

About Ashoka

Ashoka is leading the way to an "Everyone a Changemaker" World. As the world's largest network of changemakers and social innovators with more than 3,000 social entrepreneurs in 89 countries, Ashoka aims to bring about large-scale social change. Ashoka supports innovators to get started, grow their ideas, collaborate, reshape whole systems and influence societal transformation. Founded in 1980 with the belief that the most powerful force in the world is a big idea in the hands of an entrepreneur, Ashoka applies insights from the world's leading social entrepreneurs to set in motion profound societal transformation. Current insights indicate that our rapidly changing world calls for an "Everyone a Changemaker" world, one where every person practices the critical skills of empathy, teamwork, leadership and changemaking.  For more information on Ashoka, please visit Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Contact: Terry Donovan