Ashoka's Fellowship keeps on evolving, and so will our support programs. 

Ashoka has supported social entrepreneurs for +40 years, continuously expanding and deepening its support programs to meet the needs of around 3,700 Ashoka Fellows in over 90 countries. Over the years, we have learned from the inspiring and insightful leadership of Ashoka Fellows from around the globe.  As social entrepreneurs continue to adapt to our changing world, so will our support and understanding of what makes it most impactful. 

This is why we conducted the Ashoka Global Fellows Study in 2021, because we believe it is a good opportunity to take stock of the Ashoka Fellowship and update our programs based on the results we see. The qualitative and quantitative parts of the study strengthened some previous trends identified in terms of support for social entrepreneurs and helped us design and incorporate new elements into our Fellowship program. 

We found that are five shifts in the social entrepreneurship field: 

  1. A shift in in strategy and focus. Strategies of social entrepreneurs increasingly embrace, navigate, and steer complex system dynamics.

  2. An expansion of awareness of the importance of the ecosystem, culture, and trust. Social entrepreneurs build solutions together with interconnected and interdependent actors in their area of expertise.

  3. An organizational shift from closed organizations to open, fluid teams that unlock collective power. Social entrepreneurs organize as networks and communities to mobilize ecosystems for change.

  4. A shift in leadership from a command-and-control style to leadership that unlocks the changemaking potential of everyone. Social entrepreneurs create the conditions for others to be changemakers at all levels.

  5. A personal shift from sacrifice to wellbeing and inner growth. Self-care allows for long- term resilience, and this is a subject more and more relevant and acknowledged by social entrepreneurs.

Check Ashoka's priorities and directions of support that we will focus on moving ahead, by reading our paper on Social Innovations Journal's website, here


Publication written by Georg Schön, Co-Director at Ashoka Austria and co-leader of Ashoka Fellowship Europe Program. Georg co-creates social entrepreneurship support programs and ecosystem initiatives around the world.