Bill Drayton, CEO and Founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, took home a tremendous honor today. Drayton was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for International Cooperation, Spain's highest honor and Nobel Prize equivalent. The announcement was made live via satellite from Oviedo, Spain.
The Prince of Asturias Award aims to "reward the scientific, technical, cultural, social, and humanistic work performed at an international level whose work has contributed in both an exemplary and relevant way to the mutual understanding, progress or fellowship among peoples." Historically, non-Spanish influentials do not win this award, though previous winners have included Mandela, Simone Veil, Mario Soares, Jacques Delors, Mijail Gorbachov, Al Gore, 'Lula' da Silva and organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organization.
"Spain's recognition of Bill Drayton demonstrates a deep commitment to the spirit of enterprise, the passion for social change, and a belief in a new leadership paradigm. Bill exemplifies how it can transform an individual, a community, and a country. We are thrilled that Spain is honoring Bill Drayton, Spain's Ashoka fellows, and entrepreneurs everywhere with this prestigious award."
An international jury carefully weighed the impact and influence of all 25 global candidates, before determining Drayton to be the best fit for this year's honors.
"I am more deeply touched than I can express by the decision of the jury for the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation," said Drayton. "I know it truly is a recognition of the extraordinary social entrepreneurs in Spain and across the world, so many of whom are friends and colleagues. Spain once again is opening a wonderful new land."
Drayton founded Ashoka In 1980 with the dream of creating a world where every individual has the freedom, confidence, and support to effectively respond to pressing social problems. Over the past three decades, Ashoka has empowered social entrepreneurs to drive change and reinvent their worlds by shaping an innovative, competitive, and collaborative citizen sector.
"The faster the world changes, the more important it becomes to do more than give fish or help people learn to fish," said Drayton. "We must constantly change the fishing industry. That requires entrepreneurs," says Maria Zapata, Director of International Operations-Europe Ashoka Social Entrepreneurs and head of the organization in Spain. "Moreover, we need to make sure that each change is for the good. That's why the world needs social entrepreneurs - men and women whose lives and therefore work are only for the good of all. We need them individually and, even more, as a global community working together."
"The Prince of Asturias Award will help Ashoka and all of us build this essential new force in the world."