Ashoka is the global association of 3,000 leading social entrepreneurs—men and women with system-changing solutions for the world’s most pressing social problems. Since 1980 it has elected Ashoka Fellows from 70 countries worldwide, supporting them to build their innovations to have major impact for the public good. Social entrepreneurs are relentless problem-solvers and team-builders, innovators with big vision and pragmatic applications. Ashoka’s founder and CEO, Bill Drayton, says, “The most effective way to change the world for the better is with a great idea – but in the hands of an entrepreneur.” Ashoka provides them with living stipends, professional support and access to its global network of peers.
Ashoka’s vision is a world in which Everyone is a Changemaker (EACH): people with skills, confidence and experience to solve the challenges the future brings. Core experiences to develop EACH include: every child masters empathy (able to thrive in a diverse global community); every youth experiences entrepreneurship (learning its skills as a leader or team member); every person participate in changemaking (changing forever their perception of their ability to act effectively); and full economic citizenship (having the information , skills and means to participate actively in the formal market economy as independent consumers and producers, with access to products and services that serve their needs, and unfettered access to financial services that allow them to build and leverage their assets for better futures.
Ashoka Full Economic Citizenship (FEC) leads collaborative entrepreneurship in sectors where broken value chains adversely affect large numbers of people worldwide: water, health care, affordable housing, sanitation, alternative energy, small producer agriculture, nutrition, jobs and income generation, recycling, credit and finance, among others. “Business as usual” is not working for all citizens, but FEC believes that harnessing and improving market forces to work for social benefit is how these sectors will succeed for business and society. They need alternative frameworks to succeed in the 21st century. FEC’s “Hybrid Value Chain” is such a framework, to tear down the barriers between business and the social sector, to capitalize on the strengths of each sector through persistent collaboration, to fix broken value chains by forging integral alliances of citizens and businesses to co-create new value, open new markets, innovate new products. Win for business, win for people, win for society.