The social entrepreneurship evangelists
United States
Photo by Ashoka

When wading through a sea of non-profit annual reports and press material, it can appear ‘social entrepreneurship’ is the term on everybody’s lips. How easy it is to forget, then, that back in 1981 when a 20 year-old Bill Drayton launched Ashoka as an organization dedicated to supporting the dreams of social innovators worldwide, he was walking a solitary path. Thirty years later, and Ashoka has evolved into an association of over 3,000 fellows in more than 70 countries.

Fundamental to the Ashoka model is a tripartite approach identifying and investing in leading social entrepreneurs, engaging communities of entrepreneurs to develop patterns of effective collaboration, and working to deliver necessary infrastructure, such as access to social financing, bridges to business and academia, and the frameworks for effective cross sector partnerships. While the organization’s global reach is incalculable, evaluation has show that over 80 percent of alumni are driving systemic change at a national level within ten years, while 96 percent of their ideas have been replicated by independent groups.

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