Ashoka Venture and Fellowship
In a world defined by change, success comes from everyone leading. Social entrepreneurs define the new roadmaps that allow people to thrive in this new environment, while providing solutions and demonstrating the how-tos.
Ashoka engages the world’s largest and most powerful network of social entrepreneurs by searching for and selecting the world’s leading social entrepreneurs: Ashoka Fellows. Ashoka pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship more than 35 years ago, and today it continues to build the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs.
Ashoka Fellows champion new ideas that transform society’s systems -- providing benefits for everyone and improving the lives of millions of people. Ashoka Fellows are the ultimate role models in today’s world.
Ashoka identifies patterns that are emerging from our Fellows—types of solutions, strategies, topic areas, etc.—that often point to areas ripe for major change. These learnings from across our Fellowship guide Ashoka’s work and investments in strategic initiatives that empower every person to be a changemaker.
Ashoka is unlike any other organization I’ve worked with. And this is a good thing. Forget about hierarchies and decision-trees. Forget about caveats and we’ve-never-done-that’s. I have never worked with a more committed group of people whose first response is ‘why not!,’ whose job descriptions say ‘make it happen,’ and who are deeply committed to standing next to crazy leaders who believe in the world that is yet to be. Is it messy sometimes? Yes. Is it catalytic? Always.– Eric Dawson, Founder of Peace First. Ashoka Fellow since 2007
Ashoka searches the world for leading social entrepreneurs through an intensive, human-centered process, selecting them into our Ashoka global, trust-based fellowship of peers.
The process of selection is a transformative and enlightening experience. Candidates articulate their innovations, and how they have the potential to change sector-wide systems. They scrutinize their strategies and methods, and reflect on how they engage as individuals and leaders in today’s world. The selection process is not simply a means to an end, but rather generates robust discussion, sharpens ideas, and gives room for a journey of self discovery and growth.
The selection process phases are:
In 2008, I became an Ashoka Fellow. I was thrilled by this opportunity to meet amazing people, go to fantastic places, and learn about innovative and new ideas. But what I could never have known then and am only beginning to grasp now . . . is the amount of growth I would experience as a person, leader, and changemaker. Ashoka’s commitment to and belief in me and the power I—one person—can bring to the world, has been truly transformative and life changing. I am not at all surprised that Girls on the Run has grown significantly over the last four years . . . and that our growth has been in parallel with the confidence I have found using words like ‘change the world,’ ‘transformation,’ and ‘taking positive risks.’ This is the language of Ashoka . . . and the world in which I now joyfully find myself living everyday.– Molly Barker, Girls on the Run, USA. Ashoka Fellow since 2008
Ashoka's selection process is anchored by our five criteria against which all Fellow candidates are evaluated in every step of the selection process:
Ashoka’s objective, strategic, and critical analysis of our work and potential development paths have already fundamentally altered our plans for growth. Indeed, thanks to Ashoka the bar has been significantly raised: our aspirations are now global rather than local, and we’re aiming—and making good progress—towards an impact that is many hundreds of times larger than we dared imagine this time last year.– Al Harris, Blue Ventures, UK and Madagascar. Ashoka Fellow since 2007
For more than 35 years, Ashoka has built and nurtured the largest network of leading social entrepreneurs in the world. After a rigorous selection process, they are introduced to a life-long fellowship, where every member is committed to championing new patterns of social good. We encourage Ashoka Fellows to take ownership of the network and we partner with them to co-create Ashoka’s vision of an Everyone a Changemaker world.
We understand the individual needs of social entrepreneurs vary depending on the stage of their work. Once selected, each Ashoka Fellow embarks on a tailored timeline of investments and support over their lifetime. We make sure that the Ashoka brand, the engagements we curate and facilitate, and the connections we open are valuable to each Fellow. We invite Fellows to make the most of the network through interactions that will increase their chances for deepening their social impact. Some of the support Fellows will enjoy include:
Fellows have said that the Ashoka Fellowship gives them an identity, a community, and the network to do more.
Having identified myself as a social entrepreneur was truly significant. It defined my role and gave me the security of belonging to a network of people with similar abilities and vocations.– Ximena Abogabir, Casa de la Paz, Chile. Ashoka Fellow since 1995
When Ashoka elected me a Fellow in November 2006, I had been working part-time to implement my vision for five years. Ashoka gave me a stipend that allowed me to reduce the burden of my own student loans, cover my basic expenses, and fully dedicate myself to scaling Lumni.