Ashoka was founded in 1981 by Bill Drayton, pioneering the field of social entrepreneurship and building the largest network of systems-change social entrepreneurs worldwide with more than 3 500 Ashoka Fellows working in 93 countries, putting their innovative ideas into practice to create positive change at a large scale.  

Ashoka Southern Africa is part of the Ashoka Africa Hub and was launched in 1990 as the cornerstone and first ever office of Ashoka’s work in Africa in critical post-apartheid years. Our network to date includes over 148 systems-changing social entrepreneurs, whom we call Ashoka Fellows. The regional office based in Johannesburg includes South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini.    

Our goal is to stimulate and support the most innovative entrepreneurial solutions to the social and environmental challenges our region faces today and together with other key stakeholders across the corporate, investment, philanthropic, academic and public sectors, to foster “Everyone a Changemaker” societies.  

We provide connections to a global network and a platform for individuals dedicated to changing the world.  

The Ashoka network includes social entrepreneurs working in various fields - from education, human rights, civic participation, all the way to economic development and healthcare among others, building a strong societal fabric.   

Africa priority thematic areas

Ashoka's Africa is composed of three other regional offices: Ashoka East Africa, Ashoka West Africa, and Ashoka Sahel

Programs in Southern Africa

South African Fellows

Ashoka Venture and Fellowship

Our longest running and cornerstone program is Venture and Fellowship, through which we select catalytic social entrepreneurs, with the potential to not only achieve impact in their organization, but 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 130 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. Our focus in on leveraging our network of peers and supporters, honing in 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.  

Selection Criteria


>Selection and support of Ashoka Fellows

 >Check our Ashoka Fellows from Southern Africa 

>Recommend a Fellow

"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 African Young Changemakers

Ashoka Young Changemakers

Ashoka Young Changemakers are a carefully selected network of young people between the ages of 12 and 20 years, who have found their power to create change for the good of all, and who are engaging their peers and the entire society in realizing a world where everyone is a changemaker. We hold the belief that one of the most effective ways to improve the lives of young people and the world at large is to empower them to realize their own ability to create positive social change.

More broadly, Ashoka Southern Africa has engaged and supported over 100 Young Leaders through a variety of support programs, gatherings and visibility. We are aiming at cultivating and building an eco-system that supports youth to be changemakers. Through their initiatives, Young Changemakers become role models in their community, proving that it is possible to be actively engaged and to Lead Young. Beyond their immediate surrounding, they also convey their message of change by participating in large outreach events or campaigns in Africa.

>Nomination and selection criteria

"I learnt a lot about social change. As a young person, I had an idea of what social change is but I realised that I not fully understand it until I attended the Ashoka Young Changemakers event.  I have learnt a lot about community development and how we as young people can empower each other on journeys to become change makers. Through Ashoka Young Changemakers, I was also exposed to the different challenges and struggles that other communities and people face in different countries and regions."

~Thabiso Maboate, Ashoka Young Changemaker  

School boy

Ashoka Changemaker Schools

Changemaker Schools is a global network of schools that are integrating 21st century skills such as empathy, leadership and teamwork into the school system, culture and curriculum. Changemaker School leaders become co-creators in the global movement reimagining quality education so all young people emerge as changemakers.

We believe that anyone can become a Changemaker and we want every young person to be equipped and inclined to work for the common good, whether in their family, community, country or across the whole world. Changemaker Schools enable all students to become changemakers—young people who have the skills and confidence to change the world for the good of all.

Students are learning the essential skills of empathy, creativity, leadership and teamwork at Changemaker Schools so that they can thrive in the modern world and find solutions to our most complex problems. We have adapted our methodology for selecting Ashoka Fellows to identify and select a global network of Changemaker Schools.

The Southern African office has elected eight Changemaker Schools, seven Primary Schools and one Secondary School. We work to connect these schools and support them in leading the transformation of learning in the Southern African region and beyond.

Check our Changemaker Schools pioneering education in Southern Africa 

Discover the  Changemaker Schools program around the world 

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. 

Read about the ASN

Southern Africa Event


Ashoka Southern Africa is regularly hosting action-focused events to connect our network of Fellows, young leaders and Changemaker schools to other changemakers from the philanthropy, corporate, investment or public sectors. We believe in the power of sharing, learning from experience and co-creating new solutions to current societal challenges and in the need to provide platforms for greater collaboration across sectors. Some of our recent events include: 

  • The Pan-African Impact!Africa Summit hosted in collaboration with the British Council in Johannesburg in June 2018 that gathered over 300 social entrepreneurs and changemakers and as many key stakeholders from the philanthropy, corporate, investment and public sectors. 
  • A Pitch Event hosted in April 2019 in Johannesburg for the Ashoka Investment Accelerator which gathered 12 disruptive social entrepreneurs shortlisted from more than 100 applicants across the continent and 140 impact investors, diverse supporting organizations, and leaders in the African ecosystem. The social entrepreneurs pitched for a cumulative total of approximately USD10-million. In return, they plan to provide billions in impact return to African communities: from increased crop yields, to reduced school absenteeism, to solar-powered irrigation to new jobs for informal traders.
  • "Change Ed" hosted in collaboration with Impact!Hub in February 2019 with the aim to tackle some of the most pertinent challenges in education through dialogues, networking and group brainstorming. Change Ed engaged over 50 participants and 9 visionary primary and high schools from South Africa.
  • Social & Business Co-Creation workshops with partnering companies eager to understand social innovations relevant to their core business, get inspired by social entrepreneurs and explore new collaborative models that create both economic and social value. ​
Cover image for Ashoka Africa 2019 Impact Report. It showcases a selected number of African Fellows and Young Changemakers

Ashoka Africa 2019 Impact Report

The Ashoka Africa’s 2019 Impact Report highlights our work and impact in Africa for 2019. 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


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


Ashoka Southern Africa
195 Jan Smuts Avenue
South Africa