Over the past few weeks you’ve come across the incredibly personal stories of leading Canadian social entrepreneurs elected as Ashoka Fellows. Their inspirational stories provide tangible examples of social innovation across the country. This is the story of Ashoka Canada.
The Beginnings of Ashoka
Nearly 35 years ago, Ashoka began identifying and supporting social entrepreneurs, building a worldwide network to accelerate their impact. These were individuals like Fiona, Manon, Nadia and Usha who were innovating solutions to address pressing social problems and Ashoka believed could change patterns across society.
Though these individuals worked on everything from solar energy in rural villages to teaching robotics to pre-schoolers, Ashoka began to notice patterns among individuals. Similarities included an unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas and proving that compassion, creativity, and collaboration are tremendous forces for change.
Building our first community of changemakers
For the first 10 years, Ashoka began building a worldwide community and network of Ashoka Fellows. Our global network has provided Fellows strategic support to scale their ideas, opportunities for collaboration, and connections to worldwide partners. Today, this community has grown to over 3,000 Ashoka Fellows spanning 72 countries.
As the community began to grow, Ashoka recognized that support was needed along the entire changemaker lifecycle — from youth years, to higher education and well into careers. This is the very foundation of Ashoka vision of an “Everyone a Changemaker” world that could respond quickly and effectively to social challenges, and where individuals could have the freedom, confidence and societal support to address any social problem and drive change.
Here’s how Ashoka Canada works to engage Canadians in changemaking and community building:
Identifying and supporting people tackling social challenges at their root in new and creative ways
We want to continue to elect leading Canadian social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows and connect them to a worldwide network of peers and partners working to accelerate the impact of their work.
Inspiring Youth People to Lead
We have embarked on a three year mission to help educators transform higher education in Canada. We’re engaging colleges and universities to co-create vibrant eco-systems that foster social innovation and youth-led change.
Enabling a culture of changemaking across business
We’re working with forward thinking companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim, a family held, leading pharmaceutical company, to transform sectors through innovation. These high-impact collaborations provide specialized business expertise to Fellows and young changemakers while enabling executives to gain unique perspectives within the fields and communities where they work.
Building a country-wide network of changemakers
We’re turning the ideas of local problem solvers into reality through our Changemakers competitions which open-source solutions to social challenges. The Play Exchange is sourcing and supporting the ideas from Canadians around enabling a healthier Canada with prizes and strategic support bring their ideas to life.
Our world is rapidly changing and large shifts are occurring across all sectors. Governments are realizing the importance of cross sector collaboration in solving social problems, social sector organizations are seeking new and creative sources of funding and large corporations are searching for entrepreneurs within.
Ashoka sees this as evidence of where entrepreneurial individuals will set the path in every sector.
In this accelerated world, the best way to prepare people to succeed is to ensure that they are equipped with the right changemaking skills. We want to see Canada grow into a country of changemakers – where empathy, leadership and teamwork drive all Canadians to build newer, stronger social systems.
This is already happening but it’s important now that we build on this momentum and we need your help.
Join and support us in enabling every person in Canada to create the realities they envision for the world.
To learn more about Ashoka Canada, visit their charity profile page>>