Founded by Bill Drayton in 1981, today Ashoka is the world’s largest network of leading social entrepreneurs and ranks among the top 5 NGOs of the world. The first-ever social entrepreneur to be selected as an Ashoka Fellow was Gloria De Souza from India, in 1982, who revolutionised the system of learning in classrooms.
Impacting millions of people and communities through their work, our Fellows include people like Nobel Laureates Kailash Satyarthi (Bachpan Bachao Andolan) and Magsaysay awardee Anshu Gupta (Goonj), among several others. Currently, we have over 400 Ashoka Fellows in wide-ranging fields such as farming, education, human rights, finance, local media, and women and youth empowerment, across India.
Ashoka India functions as a collaborative network that supports and amplifies change by bringing together these changemakers.
In the course of our work, having witnessed the changing patterns in society over close to three decades, and the way our problems are increasing at a pace faster than we can solve them, we have realised that to truly make things better for everyone we need to head towards a world where everyone is a changemaker. And just like social entrepreneurs, the world needs everyone to start practising skills like empathy, teamwork, leadership, and problem solving.
To this end, we believe that changemaking has to start young, and through our programs like Youth Venture, Changemaker Schools, and Health and Nutrition, we find, develop, and support young changemakers, enabling them to be role models in their communities, and give them the skills to thrive in our changing world.
Our office also serves as the regional hub for Ashoka’s activities in South Asia. Find out more about our work in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. And to know more about our activities around the year, do read our latest annual report.
Vishnu, a lifelong entrepreneur now leads Ashoka’s global teams on Planning, Budgeting, and Global Partnerships. He has been at Ashoka for 11 years and during that time, he has led multiple teams across South Asia, South East Asia and at the Global office. He joined Ashoka to lead a project on affordable housing, which after demonstration of enabling over 15,000 homes across India - is now a separate organization he co-founded called the Indian Housing Federation. Similarly, his work on malnutrition has led to the creation of another organization called Nourishing Schools Foundation which has now reached over 40,000 children in schools across India and helping them take charge of their own nutrition.
Earlier in his career, he co-founded two internet technology companies in Singapore. Looking back, both the companies were based on ideas that were ahead of their times - Artificial intelligence and Machine learning and another a fin-tech business. One of the companies was acquired in the early 2000s and he discovered his deep interest in social development after that. He is passionate about creating large scale social change using hybrid business models.
Sunish comes with two decades of leadership experience in international trade and investment consulting for the interest of small and medium scale enterprises. He has to his credit a number of organisations he founded / co-founded, in the areas of media and PR, market-based social security for informal sector, women’s safety and road safety during his career.
Sunish currently leads Ashoka in India, helping creating a Changemaker-world by expanding the community of Ashoka Fellows and young-changemakers, and institutions that focus on developing essential skills of empathy and problem-solving among young children.
Sunish runs an initiative to reduce instances of road-deaths and injuries, by re-introducing road as a shared social space, redefining the way driving is learnt and licensed, and redesigning road infrastructure putting the vulnerable road-users in the center. In his free time, Sunish loves to paint and has held a few exhibitions of his own. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, Vidyut and son, Yash.
Jaya joined Ashoka in April 2015 as a part of the Integrated Technology Initiative team. She is a mother of two, multilinguist, Drupal evangelist who started her career as an Analytical Chemist and then a Russian Technical translator and Interpreter and now enjoys development of websites since 2007.
Yashveer has worked with International development organisations on strategy & sustainability and has been instrumental in launching & setting up new projects. Prior to this, he founded a youth non-profit to address talent inequity in the development sector and influence youth culture in India by inspiring, educating, and supporting university students to pursue social innovation and entrepreneurship. For his work, Yashveer has been recognized as one of the Social Entrepreneurs in "Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia" list in the year 2016. He was also awarded prestigious Youth Action Net 2012 Fellowship – as 1 of the 20 young social entrepreneurs representing 16 different countries by International Youth Foundation and was recognized as Global Shaper 2011 by World Economic Forum.
He earned his MBA at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, where he was the only MBA student to receive Vice-Chancellor Social Impact Award 2014. As the President of Student’s Union BITS Pilani 2006-07, Yashveer co-founded the University VISION 2020 Plan.
Archana Sinha leads the Health and Nutrition Initiative at Ashoka. Through Nourishing Schools, the initiative aims to develop young changemakers who can take charge of their own nutrition and that of their communities. She also manages global partnerships at Ashoka India.
Prior to joining Ashoka, she was a management consultant with i3 Consulting, a firm founded by ex-McKinsey employees. She led engagements advising clients from industries such as financial services and e-commerce on business development, strategy and setting up new ventures. She’s been a journalist with The Asian Age and is a regular contributor for publications such as Huffington Post and Forbes. She has a Masters in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and a Bachelors in Economics from Sophia College, Mumbai University. She was elected as Student Body President at Sophia College and co-founded the student-run Economics journal at JNU.
She was awarded the Spotlight:Health scholarship by the Aspen Ideas Festival, USA in 2014. She was also selected as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence by the SELCO Foundation for the Kowdi Kutumba project in 2015. It aims to make the North Karnataka handicraft of Kowdi a sustainable means of livelihood for women with low incomes.
Rameez believes the mysteries of human nature can be uncovered by studying history and philosophy. Berger’s “Hold Everything Dear”, Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”, Harari’s “Sapiens” are some of the books that have unlocked these mysteries for him. His desire to see people living more responsbiliyt, and understanding the full impact of youth on society encouraged him to work with Ashoka Fellow, Ashraf Patel’s organization, Pravah, from 2008 until July 2017, building journeys for young people to find their purpose. After riding his motorbike through the Himalyaas for a month he is now with us to create journeys for Ashoka Fellows. Rameez listens and keenly observes everything around and about him, like a fly ion the wall, but will only tell you what he’s thinking if you ask.
And, he swears he could have been a vegetarian if Biryani had never been invented, but alas!
Nagendra joined Ashoka in October 2010 and is the Finance and Accounts Manager. He has over 24 years of progressive and significant experience in Accounts management and office administration.
His key skills include preparation of final accounts, income and expenditure statements, receipts and payments statement, balance sheet, funding and project proposals. Previously, he has handled statutory and internal auditing and income tax and sales tax assessments. He has also handled matters relating to statutory compliances like income tax, exemptions proposals, FEMA, RBI, VAT, PF, PT, central excise and customs independently. He also has experience in creating working capital proposals and liaising with banks as required
Nikitha Varsha joined Ashoka as Assistant Manager for Finance & Accounts. She comes with 12 years of experience in the field. Prior to joining Ashoka, Nikitha was specialized in the preparation of receipts & payment, income & expenditure accounts, profit & loss account, cash flow statement & balance sheet, payroll, budget & MIS reports, coordinating with the auditors for the finalization of accounts and also interacting with statutory work like ESIC, PF, PT, TDS and Service Tax. She is well-versed in accounting softwares like Tally ERP 9 & Netsuite.
Supriya joined Ashoka India in 2010 as the Venture Manager. She coordinates the search and selection process of social entrepreneurs in India and with them, she is helping to build collaborative entrepreneurship platforms in different areas, such as rural innovation, health, education.
Having graduated in 2005 from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad India, Supriya joined a premier Indian corporate law firm, Amarchand Mangaldas, and specialized in securities laws and capital market transactions. Prior to joining Ashoka, she worked with the African Wildlife Foundation in Tanzania, where she was also teaching the Massai tribes.
Dr. Shruti Nair works with Ashoka India and is a communication & impact evaluation expert with experience in the venture capital & venture philanthropy space. She has worked with the largest Impact Investment fund in India, Aavishkaar and several social enterprises across sectors in South & Southeast Asia. Shruti has a Ph.D. in Media Studies from Florida State University, and also holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. In her role at Ashoka, Shruti heads the efforts in South Asia to build Jujitsu partnerships and create the 'Everyone A Changemaker' world.
Divyadarshan works with the global Ashoka Young Changemakers team. At 13, Darshan and his friends launched a student club for environmental action in his hometown of Trichy and he has led several changemaking initiatives since. Prior to Ashoka, he worked with the Delhi University Research Council on improving the status of undergraduate education in the country. He did his bachelor’s in liberal arts and during college, he worked on a series of social innovation projects on issues like bullying, transgender rights, migrant labours, oral history, and higher education reform.