Ashoka’s Southern Africa program was launched in 1990 as the cornerstone of Ashoka’s work in Africa. Our first and longest running program in Africa to date gathers more than 130 Fellows - the largest Ashoka fellowship in the continent - from Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Our Southern Africa office has a firm footing in the region and is well poised to continue building communities of innovators and fostering social change. We have been driving a new vision for the citizen sector in Africa by identifying and investing in local social entrepreneurs with new ideas for systematic social change. These innovators are elected as Ashoka Fellows, given financial and professional support, and gain access to a global network of like-minded peers. Ashoka Fellows in Southern Africa are empowering people to create their own economic and civic opportunities, addressing the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and other health concerns, introducing more effective education systems, struggling for the advancement of human rights, protecting the environment and natural resources, and resolving conflict.

View a list of Southern Africa Fellows, Changemaker Schools and Campuses.

About Ashoka in Africa

Since 1990, the Ashoka network in Africa has yielded some valuable insights about systems-changing solutions to improve social and economic outcomes on the continent. At the core of every innovation is a changemaker who saw a gap and entrepreneured a solution.  That’s why, in addition to finding and supporting leading social entrepreneurs and identifying patterns in social innovation, Ashoka Africa now builds partnerships focused on supporting emerging changemakers and playing a critical role in convening  collaborative ecosystems that will ensure Africa is a place where everyone works together to shift social systems.

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


Six Priority Areas:

Education and Leadership

Supporting institutions and individuals focused on transforming education from a system designed for the industrial age into one that grows young changemakers, able to address the challenges of the 21st Century

Youth Livelihoods and Women Entrepreneurship

Identifying key levers of economic opportunity for youth and women to ensure every person is able to find meaningful and respectable work.

Agriculture and Nutrition

Recognizing that food security and good nutrition are vital to producing healthy African communities.

Migration and Mobility

Supporting innovations to promote and encourage dignity and respect for all Africans regardless of their economic or political status.

Energy and Environment

Recognizing the progress and potential for Africa to build sustainable, green energy solutions to power it into the future.

Health and Wellbeing

Ensuring all Africans have access to health care and are growing up to feel safe and secure.


Four Phase Approach:

Ashoka Africa has a series of activities around curating innovations, championing individuals and institutions to grow their capacity, challenging partners to build collective impact, and convening innovations to spread awareness.  

PHASE ONE: Curating through social innovation mapping

Ashoka’s network of 3300+ Fellows and 30,000+ social innovators holds a wealth of insights into innovative approaches to social change. Focusing in on six priority areas, we will map the innovations of our network to understand key patterns and trends in the field to understand the key levers for systemic change. These findings will help funders and investors to understand the marketplace for their investments and inspire  other social innovators to design and drive their own change.

PHASE TWO: Championing social entrepreneurs through innovation labs

Taking the learnings from our social innovation mappings, we will host 6 innovation labs with 10-12 Fellows who are working in the priority areas.  The agenda of the innovation lab is designed as a deep dive into a core problem to come up with an implementable collective approach to making systemic change.  The Fellows will be taken through a process to work together to see a problem from multiple angles and entrepreneur solutions based on their own innovative approaches.

PHASE THREE: Challenging the ecosystem at the African Social Innovation Summit

The African Social Innovation Summit will be a central convening space to showcase both individual and collective approaches of the Fellows in our network.  Featuring problem solving sessions, thought leader roundtables, plenaries, social innovation forums, and opportunities for investors to meet advanced stage Fellows, the summit will be the first of what we hope will be an annual event to share Ashoka’s unique pan-African network with the world.

PHASE FOUR: Convening the network with an online Social Innovation Marketplace

Serving as a repository to ensure that the unique insights, tools, and projects of collaborations generated by the summit. This online tool will facilitate and accelerate a rich trove of good ideas and innovative solutions globally, while fostering peer to peer and cross sector collaborations.





Stephanie Schmidt
Director, Ashoka Africa
Stéphanie joined Ashoka Africa Leadership team since September 2017, after ...more
Sanjana Janardhanan
Manager, Venture and Fellowship
Sanjana has been working with Ashoka for the last four ...more

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