Over the last 10 years Ashoka UK has been building a network of the UK’s leading social innovators. We have selected 40 Ashoka Fellows who are creating systemic change in areas from climate change to housing. With the belief that social innovation extends beyond the social enterprise sector, we’ve also selected and connected networks of social innovators in schools through the ‘Ashoka Changemaker Schools Network’. This work is lead by 15 flagship ‘Ashoka Changemaker Schools’.

Our work with Fellows and Schools is supported and developed through our network of social innovators in the business world - from individual business leaders who advise our networks, to corporations who partner with us to focus on creating communities of innovators in areas like healthcare or the fashion industry.

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Connect with Ashoka UK

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Our Programs

Ashoka’s network of social innovators begins with the Ashoka Fellowship: an association of social entrepreneurs creating systemic change. Each year in the UK we receive around 200 hundred  nominations for the Ashoka Fellowship, which are reviewed by the Ashoka Venture team. At each stage in the process, candidates are assessed against our five core criteria:

  • New Idea

  • Entrepreneurialism

  • Creativity

  • Social Impact

  • Ethical Fibre

The Ashoka Fellowship in the UK was valued at £1.8m in 2016. A recent survey revealed that 68% of UK Fellows have influenced public policies, 59% are creating impact at an international level and a further 70% of the UK Fellows are considered ‘thought leaders’ in their field. Currently the Fellowship helps social entrepreneurs to reach systemic change with support in 5 key areas:

  • Network Access

    • Providing connections to partners, advisors, corporations and philanthropists

  • Visibility

    • Connections to journalists and the media

  • Transformative Skills

    • Access to pro bono partners, accelerator programmes and workshops

  • Peer to Peer Community

    • Connections to over 3300 social entrepreneurs in all fields

  • Investment

    • Ashoka Fellows are provided with a stipend and well as supported to raise investment

We believe that anyone can become a changemaker and we want every young person to have the skills and the will to work for the common good, whether in their family, community, country or across the whole world. In order to empower every young person to become a changemaker, we need to change the way that we educate young people. In 2014 Ashoka UK launched the Changemaker Schools Programme. Since then we have identified 15 schools leading innovation in the education sector. We work to connect these school and support them in leading the transformation of learning in the UK.

The Ashoka Support Network (ASN) is a global community of business leaders from a variety of fields who support Ashoka both financially and strategically. In the UK we have a community of 37 ASN members who offer their time, networks and expertise to Ashoka Fellows and Changemaker Schools, supporting them to amplify their social impact. They do this in several key ways:

  • Providing Mentorship

  • Building Networks for Fellows

  • Becoming Ambassadors for Fellows and Ashoka

  • Sitting on Advisory Boards

  • Investing Resources

  • Bringing in Expertise

  • Building New Partnerships

Ashoka Fellows are pioneers in raising investment to support their social missions. However many often struggle to find the right type of finance. Traditional investment, with its requirements for high financial return, rapid payback or assets that can be offered as collateral for loans, often does not meet the needs of social entrepreneurs.


Many of our Fellows set up hybrid businesses, which combine both charitable and commercial activities in service of their social mission. These hybrid businesses need hybrid finance – a new kind of finance that combines both philanthropy and investment in order to provide the forms of capital that social entrepreneurs really need: finance that is patient, flexible and that prioritizes social impact alongside financial return.


Examples of UK Fellows who have successfully raised hybrid finance include:


  • Faisel Rahman (Fair Finance): Ashoka and our ASN members helped Faisel raise over £1mn in flexible loan finance in 2010. This unlocked a further £3mn from three high street banks. The transaction enabled Fair Finance to become financially sustainable and significantly grow its lending without reliance on grant funding.


  • Al Harris (Blue Ventures): in 2009, Ashoka and ASN members raised over £150,000 in loan finance for Blue Ventures to provide vital working capital for its key operations in Madagascar, Belize and Fiji. The loan was a great success and fully repaid within 3 years.


  • Luke Dowdney (Fight for Peace): Luke worked with ASN member Serge Kremer to launch LUTA clothing, an ethical fashion company which donates half its profits to his boxing charity Fight for Peace. LUTA raised over £1mn in equity, and was sold to Reebok in a successful exit four years later. Reebok is committed to supporting the social mission of the company.


  • Mel Young (Homeless World Cup): in 2015, Mel Young raised over £350,000 in equity finance to launch a new social business: the Homeless World Cup Supporters Club, which raises sponsorship for the Homeless World Cup games. All profits after investment go toward the Homeless World Cup games in over 70 countries.


Across the full field of social finance – ranging from venture philanthropy (strategic grant giving) to impact investment (investment into for-profit social businesses) there is a huge overlooked gap of hybrid financing solutions for businesses like these.


To fill this gap, Ashoka formally launched the Hybrid Finance Initiative in 2015. We aim to support Ashoka Fellows running hybrid enterprises undergo the transition from pure charity into social business and scale up to become financially self-sustainable.


It is further core to our mission to build the ecosystem and infrastructure of social finance to bridge the gap between philanthropy and investment by providing thought leadership through publications and building partnerships with other ecosystem players. 


Pip Wheaton
Country Director, Ashoka UK
Pip joined Ashoka in 2016 as Partnerships Director. Prior to ...more
Elena Gibson
Co-Director, Ashoka UK
Elena joined Ashoka in 2013 and leads the selection of ...more
Margot Mackay
Head of Fellowship
Margot joined Ashoka in February 2014 in order to develop ...more
Tatiana Cary
Venture Manager - Ashoka UK
Tatiana manages the search and selection of new Ashoka Fellows ...more
Florian Rutsch
UK Fellowship Manager
Florian manages Ashoka's community of Fellows based, or active, in ...more
Anna Hamilton
Education Entrepreneur in Residence - Ashoka UK
Anna joined Ashoka in October 2016 after six years of ...more
Clarice Ramalho
Finance & HR Director, Ashoka UK / Ashoka EU Hub
Clarice joined Ashoka in February 2012. After restructuring the UK ...more
Aroa Fernandez Alvarez
Partnerships and Operations Manager, Ashoka UK
Aroa joined Ashoka in 2013, starting her journey at the ...more
Ross Hall
LGM, Europe Youth Years
Ross joined Ashoka in November 2014. Ross has founded and ...more
Arianna De Mario
Change Manager; Changemakers Europe Network Manager
Arianna is Europe Network Manager for Ashoka Changemakers, a role ...more
Mark Cheng
Director, Europe Diamond Hub
Mark is a member of the Leadership Group at Ashoka, ...more