Being an entrepreneur is not so much about running your own company. That would be better described as being an owner. Being an entrepreneur, in my understanding, is pursuing what you deeply care for. Inspiring others for that cause. Assuming responsibility for making the necessary change happen. And taking risks to achieve your goals. Social entrepreneurs focus on impact. They tackle the most pressing problems. Take on the most daring challenges. They are the changemakers that make our world a better place. Meet Ashoka.
Ashoka. The Changemaker Network
For more than 30 years, Ashoka has been the leading global organization in supporting social entrepreneurship. It’s an inspiring network of purpose-driven people that focus on social innovation and impact. The diversity of backgrounds, industries, expertise and skillsets in this group is impressive. What’s uniquely inspiring though is the one thing they all have in common: the purpose and passion to improve the world. I still remember the incredibly positive energy I felt when I first joined Ashoka as ASN (Ashoka Support Network) member a few years back. There was an immediate connection with everybody in the room. You give and you receive. Inspiration, ideas, support and energy. And the beauty of that kind of energy is that it multiplies. The more you engage and co-create, the more inspiration, ideas and support awaits you.
Forget Feng Shui. Invite Changemakers
So, what a privilege to recently having hosted Ashoka fellows, supporters and staff from all over Europe at our home. An engaging and exciting exchange with like-minded, inspiring changemakers. All of us sharing, collaborating, co-creating. Impact at its best. Let me give you a few examples of the amazing initiatives and projects pursued by some of the Fellows:
Radek Habl transforms the unfair ecosystem of debt, creating opportunities for millions of overindebted Czech citizens for inclusion in society. Dorica Dan revolutionizes care for rare disease patients through a collaborative and flat leadership approach. Jacek Purski reduces the risk of extremist threats and crime by helping teachers, parents, police officers and social workers to identify and reverse radicalization in Poland. Vincenzo Linarello offers a viable alternative to the political corruption and violent oppression by the Mafia in Southern Italy. It’s a pity I can’t list all of the amazing initiatives and get into all of the inspiring conversations we had. But I can tell you one thing for sure: if you’re looking for positive energy in your home, forget Feng Shui. Invite changemakers instead!
Everybody can be a Changemaker
The six key success factors for startups are not at all different for social entrepreneurs. They might even have an advantage around some of these factors due to the clarity of their mission and the purpose driven nature of their businesses. Other elements might be a bit harder for them to realize. More often than not for example, social entrepreneurs find it difficult to develop the right business model for their idea. Hence, they often struggle with funding. That’s where Ashoka comes in: they provide their “Fellows” with a stipend AND give them access to a global support network that enables co-creation among its members. This way, the social entrepreneurs can fully concentrate on their mission and get the support needed for scaling their ideas. And with more than 3,600 Fellows in over 80 countries, Ashoka’s vision to create a world where everyone can be a changemaker becomes reality.
Alchemists were believed to transform common elements into something magical and golden. If you agree that we live in what’s often referred to as “Golden Age”, then you’ll agree that social entrepreneurs are our modern-day alchemists. Their – as well as all our – gold is impact. They turn their passion, curiosity, dedication and resolve into solutions for the most pressing challenges. They laser focus their entrepreneurial energy on creating a better future. Join the changemakers and explore the alchemist within you. Let us all be the change we want to see.