If you’re into growing world of social entrepreneurship, then Ashoka: Innovators for the Public is certainly a name to know. An international citizen sector organization, Ashoka works to promote and encourage social business through connecting social entrepreneurs with professional and financial support. Founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton in Washington, D.C., Ashoka is a pioneer of the sphere of social entrepreneurship. With programs in over 60 countries and in five continents, its reach is extensive and unparalleled. Ashoka is a registered not-for-profit organization, but accepts no funding from governmental bodies, and instead is supported by business entrepreneurs, individuals and foundations.
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public has a three-pronged structure for bringing about social change in the world. The organization promotes the financial and professional strategies of individual social entrepreneurs. Ashoka uses its network to create vital connections between groups of social entrepreneurs. It also establishes infrastructure and financial systems to bring together the international social entrepreneurship community and the citizen sector as a whole. Through embracing all three of these platforms simultaneously (the individual, the group and the sector), Ashoka stimulates the development of the global social innovation community.
Ashoka has over 2,000 social entrepreneurs worldwide that have been awarded the prestigious status of being part of the Ashoka Fellowship community. Ashoka Fellows play a pivotal role in transforming society, impacting locales from rural areas in Brazil to the streets of Brooklyn. Some of the noteworthy fellows include co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales, founder of Grameen Bank Muhammad Yunus, founder of Polaris Project Derek Ellerman and founder of Tomorrow Trust Kim Feinberg.
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public has numerous initiatives and programs including Youth Venture, Full Economic Citizenship, Changemakers, Global Academy, Changemaker Campus Initiative and Social Financial Services.
With its “Everyone a Changemaker” slogan, Ashoka incites the ideal that everyone can and should aim to make a difference in our communities. According to its website, the “Everyone a Changemaker” world is one which “responds quickly and effectively to social challenges, and where each individual has the freedom, confidence and societal support to address any social problem and drive change.” Now that’s a world we can all aspire toward.
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