Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.
Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps. Social entrepreneurs often seem to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their field.
They are both visionaries and ultimate realists, concerned with the practical implementation of their vision above all else. Each social entrepreneur presents ideas that are user-friendly, understandable, ethical, and engage widespread support in order to maximise the number of local people that will stand up, seize their idea, and implement with it. In other words, every leading social entrepreneur is a mass recruiter of local changemakers—a role model proving that citizens who channel their passion into action can do almost anything.
Over the past two decades, the citizen sector has discovered what the business sector learned long ago: There is nothing as powerful as a new idea in the hands of a first-class entrepreneur.
Why 'Social' Entrepreneur?
Just as entrepreneurs change the face of business, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches, and creating solutions to change society for the better. While a business entrepreneur might create entirely new industries, a social entrepreneur comes up with new solutions to social problems and then implements them on a large scale.
From Social Entrepreneur to Ashoka Fellow
Our vision is that the Ashoka Fellowship will help shape a society that is more able to tackle the problems it faces. Our driving interest is seeing a world where everyone has the skills, self-permission and resources to make the changes we need. We see our greatest challenge yet in inspiring more people at all ages, and in all walks of life, to see themselves as ‘changemakers’. Our network of Fellows are at the centre of inspiring this rippling effect of changemaking. In London we have been electing UK-based Fellows since 2006.
“Ashoka gives you a sense of belonging, a most diverse and engaging network and opens doors for your social enterprise that can lead to success, sustainability and scale.”
- Lily Lapenna, Ashoka Fellow, elected in 2010
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