Venture and Fellowship
Ashoka invests in people. We search the world for leading social entrepreneurs and at the launch stage, provide these entrepreneurs—Ashoka Fellows—a living stipend for an average of three years, allowing them to focus full-time on building their institutions and spreading their ideas. We also provide our Fellows with a global support network of their peers and partnerships with professional consultants. Once elected to the Ashoka Fellowship, Fellows benefit from this community for life.
Venture is the mechanism through which Ashoka finds and supports the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. Ashoka was founded on the Venture model 30 years ago, and Venture remains the beating heart of Ashoka—the work upon which all of our efforts depend.
We believe that the growth of a global citizen sector begins with the work of individual social entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs drive the sector forward, responding to new challenges and changing needs. They are rooted in local communities but think and act globally. They are the ultimate role models and the pillars of Ashoka’s vision of ‘Everyone a Changemaker.’
When most people think ‘venture,’ they think risk. A daring undertaking that has no guarantee of success. Venture
capital. Much like traditional business ventures, Ashoka’s Venture program does involve some level of risk—risk inherent in investing in individuals and their ideas at the launch stage.
Rather than measure success with a bottom line, we measure it in the form of social impact and systemic change. In Ashoka’s case, the investment is often small, and the social change it makes possible is remarkable.
Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who we recognize to have innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. They demonstrate unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas and prove that compassion, creativity, and collaboration are tremendous forces for change.
Senior Fellows & Members
Senior Fellows are advanced Fellows who are well beyond the launch stage and, at the time of election, have already created widespread impact and are recognized as leaders in their fields. Members are leading public entrepreneurs who have already made a scratch on history -- a significant, widespread transformation of the patterns of their fields -- and are well established in the mature phase of their work. The entrepreneur’s impact is tangible in daily life. While these individuals may not need Ashoka's financial support, they benefit from Ashoka's global community of social entrepreneurs and its professional partners. Ashoka benefits from their proven track-record, best practices, and shared wisdom.
As the concept of social entrepreneurship spreads and as globalization creates an increasingly interconnected world, Ashoka is finding more and more social entrepreneurs whose work is borderless, defying geographic and political frontiers. In line with our mission to respond to trends in the sector, Ashoka's Venture program recently launched a new global variation of Ashoka's selection process equipped to elect social entrepreneurs with transnational or global ideas.
Who are Global Fellows? Among them are Icelander Orri Vigfusson, whose crusade to protect the North Atlantic wild salmon takes him to Ireland, England, Scotland, Norway, and France. Another is Karen Tse, an American who lives in Switzerland and is working to revolutionize the legal system in China and Southeast Asia. Ashoka expects the number of Global Fellows to grow as citizens of the world seek global solutions to global problems.
Social Investment Entrepreneur Fellows
Social Investment Entrepreneurs (SIEs) are Fellows that have demonstrated innovative ideas that can transform the allocation of capital for social benefit. These individuals have helped to bring fresh capital to underserved communities, improved the provision and efficiency of financial services, or developed new institutions and mechanisms to bring scarce resources to the citizen sector.
Invention and Technology Fellows
Technology entrepreneurs have a technology, a socially useful product, or a strong element of invention at the core of their work. They are entrepreneurs who see that some social needs can be addressed through the design, manufacture, financing, and distribution of technologies or products - particularly to groups that are overlooked by traditional commercial approaches.
News and Knoledge Fellows
News and Knowledge Felloes are working to advance citizenship and strengthen democratic society – by creating news & knowledge innovations that better inform, connect, and engage people around the world.