About Ashoka:

Ashoka pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship in the early 1980s, coining the terms “social entrepreneurship” and “changemaker” and starting the first network of social entrepreneurs in the world. Since then, we have found and empowered social entrepreneurs whose system-changing innovations solve deep-rooted social problems through the Ashoka Fellowship. After a rigorous selection process focusing on both the entrepreneur and their solution, we invite the candidates into the Ashoka Fellowship - providing early-stage financial support and a unique lifetime membership into an extensive network of peers and partners, enabling them to expand their vision, sharpen their leadership skills, and accelerate their impact. While we elect candidates working across all fields of work, we are prioritizing Education - Youth Empowerment and Employment–Tech and humanity–Climate and planet, and Access to Healthcare. 

Ashoka Southern Africa based in Johannesburg is one of the four Ashoka regional offices in Africa with Lagos, Nairobi, and Dakar. 167 systems-changing social entrepreneurs, whom we call Ashoka Fellows have been elected and supported since 1990. The regional office includes South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini.   

Our vision is “Everyone a Changemaker™ (EACH)” - empowering everyone to have greater agency in a world of complex societal problems, and accelerating change–and our strategy is based on the following three pillars:  

  • Spot, select, and support leading social entrepreneurs to drive positive change at scale. 
  • Unlock youth potential through changemaking.    
  • Build a strong ecosystem for social entrepreneurship and changemaking collaborating with key players across sectors. 

Programs in Southern Africa

SA Fellow Banner.

Ashoka Venture and Fellowship

Our longest-running cornerstone program is Venture and Fellowship, through which we select catalytic social entrepreneurs, with the potential to achieve impact in their organization and transform systems. Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who are tackling the toughest challenges facing society today. Since launching Ashoka in Southern Africa, we have elected and supported over 167 social innovators.

Ashoka’s Venture program begins with a proactive search and rigorous selection process to find the next Fellows to join the Ashoka community. Each year we receive over 100 nominations and applications in the region.  

The  Fellowship program offers financial and non-financial strategic support to its members. We focus on leveraging our network of peers and supporters, honing in on key topics such as systems change, financial and personal sustainability, and providing strategic opportunities to Fellows throughout their careers and stages of development as the non-financial support is not time-bound. A Fellow may be at an inflection point to get an innovative idea off the ground or may have already achieved national impact and made a “scratch on history” with their idea.  

Venture Criteria and Process

"Ashoka has been instrumental in providing me the space and tools needed to personally grow as a social entrepreneur. Facilitating priceless interactions with like minded and driven changemakers and supporting my needs as a business owner enabling me to take my business to the next level”

~ Claire Reid, Reel Gardening, Fellow Since 2018

South Africa Youth.

Unlocking youth potential through changemaking

Ashoka is on an audacious mission to create a world where everyone is a changemaker: where everyone has the agency, empathy, and skills to make positive changes in their communities. It is only in such a world that the solutions will outrun our social problems and can make a huge difference on the African continent. In a world that is changing fast and in ways it never has before, it is more important than ever that we all have a voice and power. Given the demographics of the African continent, we are focusing the changemaker approach on young people. In order to achieve large-scale change beyond isolated projects, our strategy is the following:   

  • Form a core “team of teams”: made up of Ashoka Fellows active in education and youth development, Changemaker schools, Youth, and partners to identify opportunities, co-create actions, test them and Ashoka roll them out in Africa.  
  • Identify and engage young leaders (12-20 years old) who embody changemaking and become ambassadors of the Everyone a Changemaker movement.  
  • Mobilize and engage influential organizations that can contribute to norm shifting on empathy and changemaking. They fall within six categories: schools of education, education publishers, media, government, companies targeting young people (ex: telecoms, financial services), and unions.  
  • Seeding a culture of changemaking: Through media partnerships and storytelling, we push the message of the future where everyone is powerful, owns the future, and shapes it.    

The above approach was piloted in Nigeria and we are rolling out this new strategy in Southern Africa. We are closely working with LEAP schools, gold Youth, Young Africa, and Girl Move amongst others. 

African fellows in conversation

Ashoka Africa Builders

Ashoka Africa Builders is a community of successful and innovative leaders from the corporate, investment or public sectors who connect with Ashoka’s leading social entrepreneurs to accelerate positive social change. They support Ashoka financially as well as strategically, offering their network, time and expertise. 

Based on the success of the Ashoka Support Network around the world (ASN), Ashoka Africa is in the process of launching a committed and collaborative community of Ashoka Builders who are eager to roll up their sleeves and support Ashoka, Ashoka Fellows, young leaders and Changemaker schools on the continent intensify and scale their impact. 

Are you a business leader and do you want to share your expertise?

Join the founding circle of Ashoka Africa Builders Network in Southern Africa. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about how members bring value to and benefit from the Ashoka network, and email [email protected] with any questions about the program. 

Ashoka Africa Builders Brochure

Read about the ASN

Changemaking Companies

Changemaker Companies 

Ashoka has incepted Changemaker Companies to accelerate the rise of an inclusive & regenerative economy. We believe changemaking is in everyone, everywhere. The biggest economic players are instrumental in advancing the narrative that everyone can contribute to solving the world’s problems. We are therefore on a mission to find partners who want to embrace a business culture where everyone is a changemaker. A culture where creating positive societal impact through business is the new norm. We believe good business happens from the inside-out, and partner with corporate leaders who want to engage stakeholders to drive systemic change within their company. Our activities include:  

1. The Lab: CMC is partnering with pioneer companies willing to experiment with new ways of working to shift their culture & lead systemic change in their industry.  

2. The Wave: CMC hosts space for companies to explore, connect, share, and learn with a community of peers with similar ambitions and challenges, and empowers companies to become drivers of innovation at the intersection of impact and business transformation.  

3. The Movement: CMC helps accelerate the adoption of changemaking and social innovation in business and enhances the narratives through advocacy and influence work. 

Our corporate partners include Boehringer Ingelheim, EY, and Microsoft. We would like African companies to join us. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us for more information.  

Ashoka Africa Impact Report - 2022 cover page

Ashoka Africa 2022 Impact Report

The Ashoka Africa Impact Report highlights our work and impact in Africa for 2022. It serves as an overview of all the above mentioned programmes, eco-system building events, Fellows, Young Changemakers, and network of supporters.


Read the Full Report Here

Events: New Fellow Announcement 2022

We were so proud to introduce three new Fellows to our family of Changemakers this year. On November 9th, we officially welcomed Thembiso Magajana of Social Coding SA, Dixon Chibanda of Friendship Bench Zimbabwe and Murendeni Mafumo of Kusini Waters SA to Ashoka Fellowship.

Read more


Please Note:

Ashoka does not receive unsolicited funding applications.

We invite you to apply to the Ashoka Fellowship if you are advancing innovative solutions to key societal challenges in the region.


Ashoka Southern Africa

Phone: +27 (0) 10 500 1453
Address: Ashoka Southern Africa Workshop 17 THE BANK 24 Cradock Avenue, Rosebank Johannesburg 2196 South Africa