About Ashoka West Africa

Ashoka Nigeria has elected more than 80 fellows, two Ashoka Support Network (ASN) members, and 12 Changemaker Schools since 1991. Our community of Changemaker partners continues to grow. We work with 55 youth organizations in Ghana and Nigeria as a part of our Youth Venture program.

Our responsive and supportive Ashoka fellows are always ready to lead the discussion and come up with an action plan on issues in the region. Locally, Mitsubishi Corporation is our partner for Ashoka’s Changemaker Schools network and Youth Venture strategy.

Our Ashoka Fellows work in areas that include youth employability, agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), and human rights. We are a team who are co-creating with our ever-expanding community of changemaker partners in Anglophone West Africa.

Ashoka's office in Nigeria is the managing regional office for Ashoka in Ghana and Ashoka in Cameroon.

View a list of West Africa Fellows, Changemaker Schools and Campuses.


About Ashoka in Africa

Since 1990, the Ashoka network in Africa has yielded some valuable insights about systems-changing solutions to improve social and economic outcomes on the continent. At the core of every innovation is a changemaker who saw a gap and entrepreneured a solution.  That’s why, in addition to finding and supporting leading social entrepreneurs and identifying patterns in social innovation, Ashoka Africa now builds partnerships focused on supporting emerging changemakers and playing a critical role in convening  collaborative ecosystems that will ensure Africa is a place where everyone works together to shift social systems.

Ashoka's Africa is composed of three other regional offices: Ashoka East Africa, Ashoka Sahel and Ashoka Southern Africa.  


Six Priority Areas:

Education and Leadership

Supporting institutions and individuals focused on transforming education from a system designed for the industrial age into one that grows young changemakers, able to address the challenges of the 21st Century

Youth Livelihoods and Women Entrepreneurship

Identifying key levers of economic opportunity for youth and women to ensure every person is able to find meaningful and respectable work.

Agriculture and Nutrition

Recognizing that food security and good nutrition are vital to producing healthy African communities.

Migration and Mobility

Supporting innovations to promote and encourage dignity and respect for all Africans regardless of their economic or political status.

Energy and Environment

Recognizing the progress and potential for Africa to build sustainable, green energy solutions to power it into the future.

Health and Wellbeing

Ensuring all Africans have access to health care and are growing up to feel safe and secure.


Four Phase Approach:

Ashoka Africa has a series of activities around curating innovations, championing individuals and institutions to grow their capacity, challenging partners to build collective impact, and convening innovations to spread awareness.  

PHASE ONE: Curating through social innovation mapping

Ashoka’s network of more than 3,500 Fellows and 30,000+ social innovators holds a wealth of insights into innovative approaches to social change. Focusing in on six priority areas, we will map the innovations of our network to understand key patterns and trends in the field to understand the key levers for systemic change. These findings will help funders and investors to understand the marketplace for their investments and inspire  other social innovators to design and drive their own change.

PHASE TWO: Championing social entrepreneurs through innovation labs

Taking the learnings from our social innovation mappings, we will host 6 innovation labs with 10-12 Fellows who are working in the priority areas.  The agenda of the innovation lab is designed as a deep dive into a core problem to come up with an implementable collective approach to making systemic change.  The Fellows will be taken through a process to work together to see a problem from multiple angles and entrepreneur solutions based on their own innovative approaches.

PHASE THREE: Challenging the ecosystem at the African Social Innovation Summit

The African Social Innovation Summit will be a central convening space to showcase both individual and collective approaches of the Fellows in our network.  Featuring problem solving sessions, thought leader roundtables, plenaries, social innovation forums, and opportunities for investors to meet advanced stage Fellows, the summit will be the first of what we hope will be an annual event to share Ashoka’s unique pan-African network with the world.

PHASE FOUR: Convening the network with an online Social Innovation Marketplace

Serving as a repository to ensure that the unique insights, tools, and projects of collaborations generated by the summit. This online tool will facilitate and accelerate a rich trove of good ideas and innovative solutions globally, while fostering peer to peer and cross sector collaborations.



Our Programs

Learning Journey

In 2016, as part of our Future Forward partnership with Mastercard Foundation,  the Ashoka Venture and Fellowship and Africa teams co-created a series of learning journeys, touching on issues related to youth livelihoods.   We often hear from funders, media partners, policy makers and others in the ecosystem that it is hard to really know what systemic change is until you can feel it. So we designed the learning journey to help bridge the gap between hearing about a social innovation and witnessing it in practice.   

Exposure Day

On day one, we will take participants through a process to understand the nuance and complexity of the systemic barriers that are affecting youth in the host city.  In small groups, participants will be introduced to these issues by Ashoka partner organizations.  The day is meant to be a day to ask good questions, dig into the issues that has led to widespread and rampant youth disenfranchisement. Throughout the day we reflect on the experience.  

  • Work with local groups
  • Take people on visits to local community groups, informal schools, homes, clinics
  • Reflection time at lunch
  • Reflection time at dinner with a local Fellow

Solutions Day

On day two, we revisit some of the spaces in the city where we learned about the societal level problem. This time we learn how to view the problems through the strategic mindset of a social entrepreneur. This is done through experiencing the solution to the problem in both direct and indirect ways. The activities on solutions day follow the same format as on exposure day.

Join Ashoka Fellows from across Africa this January in Uganda to learn about how some of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs are solving Africa’s biggest challenge.

Future Forward



Mastercard Foundation

Ashoka Changemaker Schools

Through Ashoka’s unique position at the center of a network of system changing entrepreneurs, we have identified empathy to be the fundamental skill that every child must master in order to develop the foundation for teamwork, leadership and changemaking. To truly communicate with others and develop deep personal relationships, individuals must practice a high level of empathy. Only empathetic individuals are able to fully participate in our highly interconnected society by collaborating to solve problems at school,home, in the workplace and community.

Start Empathy, an initiative of Ashoka, is a community of individuals and institutions dedicated to building a future in which every child masters empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings and perspectives of others, and to use that understanding to guide one’s actions. It is critical both to individual human development and to our collective ability to solve problems and build a stronger society.

Start Empathy is not out to build a single program, curriculum, or silver-bullet fix. Rather, we're working to unleash demand for empathy as a core 21st century skill – collaborating with social entrepreneurs, educators, parents, and key players in the media, business, and academic sectors to make empathy as essential as reading and math in early education. Success will take all of us, and will require rethinking how we parent, educate, and raise our children in a world that is changing faster than ever before.

Why Start Empathy in Africa?

What does Africa look like when every individual has mastered empathy as a child? As rigid hierarchies are flattening, everyone is called on to lead and leaders must mobilize and collaborate with others. Authoritarian leaders in all sectors are finding that their familiar approaches are becoming less effective and they must engage rather than dictate; however, without empathy, teamwork is impossible. Those who have developed a robust life pattern of empathy will be successful in this changed world, while those who have not mastered empathy will be further marginalized.

In countries where individuals have mastered empathy, politics are no longer the will of the strongest, but are rather inclusive, democratic systems where all citizens have a voice in the governance of their country.

In an Africa where everyone masters empathy, the social divisions such as ethnicity, race, status, and wealth that divide society no longer result in violent conflict. Empathetic individuals of different backgrounds seek to understand each other’s point of view and develop mutually beneficial solutions and contribute positively to their communities and countries.

Empathetic business leaders imagine themselves in their customer’s situation and design products and services to meet needs of the wealthy as well as subsistence farmers. Applying empathy to business creates strong relationships with employees, suppliers, partners and communities, resulting in a more efficient private sector that harnesses the talent of the continent.

Empathy enables an "Everyone a Changemaker" Africa where all individuals understand the root of problems and what change is needed. Empathetic changemakers then initiate solutions to improve their community. When everyone creates positive change, our world responds rapidly and effectively to challenges and life improves for all.

To learn about Ashoka's Empathy initiative, click here. For more on Start Empathy!, connect to our online marketplace, with videos, articles and many other resources for schools, parents, teachers, students and citizen sector organisations.

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Ashoka Youth Venture

Youth Venture believes that the most important contribution we can make to the world is to increase its number of changemakers. As our world becomes smaller and global problems become bigger, we need changemakers now more than ever.

Youth Venture aims to inspire and support an entire generation of young people around the world to become changemakers.

We believe it is crucial that people discover that they can lead social change, so we invest in young people to design and lead their own ventures that create social impact. 

In starting social ventures, young people learn the important skills of leadership, entrepreneurship, teamwork, and empathy, as well as other practical skills, as they form teams and run ventures together. Young people also learn that they are powerful, and they will likely continue to take initiative and lead again and again throughout their lives.

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Ashoka Venture and Fellowship

Since 1990, the Ashoka network in Africa has yielded some valuable insights about systems-changing solutions to improve social and economic outcomes on the continent.  There are now more than 500 Ashoka Fellows in 20 countries working to change systems for the betterment of society.  Some recent partnerships have focused on tapping our network to reveal patterns and innovations in nourishment and nutrition in agriculture (Gates Foundation), youth livelihoods and leadership (The MasterCard Foundation), changemaking education (Oxford University Press, Frey Charitable Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation), and the environment and sustainability (Cartier Charitable Foundation).


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Two hands meeting for a hadshake

Inaugural Social Entrepreneurship Summit

Recognizing its role in accelerating social innovation on the continent, Ashoka will bring together 150 leading social entrepreneurs and connect them with 150 influential individuals and institutions where ideas will meet innovation to address the continent’s most pressing social challenges. The summit will discuss patterns and emerging trends on access to sustainable, green energy, changemaker education and youth employment, agriculture and nutrition, health and well-being, migration and mobility and women entrepreneurship. The summit will also showcase and disseminate information on African social innovations addressing the six priority areas.

The Africa Social Innovation Summit will be a recurring event to gather leading innovators and investors to answer the continent’s most pressing societal challenges, develop sustainable social business models and foster collaboration between public, private and citizen sectors. Supporting this event through  sponsorship is a great way to share experiences and foster collaborations leading to investments in the social entrepreneurship sector and the scaling of solutions to build a stronger and more equitable Africa.

Two hands meeting for a hadshake

Rural Innovation and Farming

In Sub-Saharan Africa, rural communities that rely on agriculture for their food and income are facing increasingly complex challenges. Social entrepreneurs like the ones Ashoka supports pioneer solutions to overcome systemic obstacles facing small farmers.


The Rural Innovation and Farming (RIF) Program of Ashoka is focused on identifying the key entrepreneurial leverages that will increase the overall livelihood and quality of life of small farmers and rural inhabitants.

The two main elements of our vision are:

“Nutrients for All”

Ashoka’s RIF program is promoting a new movement towards: Nutrients for All. This new vision is an overarching effort to connect the four areas of focus which we see leading social entrepreneurs beginning to transact and build delivery systems based on the actual flow of nutrients. What is Ashoka’s vision for a Nutrients for All world? In short, public health, food production, agriculture and the environment will focus on a critical need: life-sustaining, absorbable nutrients for all beings and ecosystems. We’ve learned this from a great many Fellows who are transforming systems to create, transfer, and preserve nutrients – in ecosystems, farms and landscapes, crops, food, and humans.

“The Nutrient Economy”

We see tremendous social and business opportunity throughout the value chains for food and environmental commodities. Envision a world where consumers and health professionals value foods based on how well they deliver nutrients to the body, with wellness and productivity increasing as a result.  Imagine food processors and commodity traders valuing agricultural crops based on nutrients provided, in addition to factors like bulk, calories and storage. Consider farmers and investors paying more for land with high nutrient availability, and nurturing ecosystems that sustain soils to begin with, increasing productivity and opening new income channels like carbon financing.  And consider financial vehicles for underwriting such “nutrient banks” to diversify income and reduce weather and labor risks in supply chains.Combined, these innovations might form a “Nutrient Economy” that transforms our interaction with the natural environment from extraction to generation of a new kind of wealth — nutrients in soil, food, and body. This goes beyond “sustainability,” instead creating food systems and business operations that actively improve public health and economic productivity.


The general objective of the RIF program is to create a next generation “Entrepreneurial Green Revolution” in smallholder farming and rural non-farm economic development and create and environment in which every farmer can be a Changemaker.

More specifically, the objectives are:

  • Ashoka continues to search for and select Ashoka Fellows working in agriculture and sustainable rural development in Sub-Saharan Africa and India.

  • Ashoka helps successfully develop insights to transform agriculture and sustainable rural development in Sub-Saharan Africa and India.

  • Insights that emerge from Ashoka’s Rural Innovation and Farming program become the new paradigm for the field. Such is the case of Nutrients for All and the Nutrient Economy.


Making More Health

Ashoka and Boehringer-Ingelheim have a three-year global initiative to improve health in communities around the world. The “Making more health” initiative promotes more health for individuals, families and communities. We aim to identify and support the most promising solutions to challenging health problems.

Here is an example of an Ashoka fellow supported by Making More Health in South Africa:

Shona McDonald created Shonaquip and Uhambo Foundation to address the challenges of children with mobile disabilities who live in peri-urban and rural areas with an approach that puts postural education on the agenda of community-based clinical services, along with a range of tailor-made mobility products that can be assembled and maintained even in conditions with limited resources.

An important aspect of the partnership is to bridge the gap between Boehringer-Ingelheim staff and health social innovators (Ashoka fellows) in an effort to build mutual support and, in doing so, redefine business models based on social knowledge in the health field. With this in mind, we have been conducting several workshops and gatherings between Boehringer-Ingelheim teams and Ashoka fellows working with health.

For more information about "Making More Health", please refer to our partnership site here.


Our partners

Ashoka W. Africa is grateful to partner with the following companies, deepening our impact and connecting our ecosystems together to create transformative change.




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