Ashoka was founded in 1981 by Bill Drayton and in over 38 years, Ashoka has pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship by building the largest network of systems-change social entrepreneurs worldwide with more than 3500 Ashoka Fellows working in 93 countries, putting their innovative ideas into practice to create positive change at a large scale.
Ashoka Southern Africa is part of the Ashoka Africa Hub and was launched in 1990 as the cornerstone of Ashoka’s work in Africa. Our first and longest running program in Southern Africa to date includes over 135 systems-changing social entrepreneurs, whom we call Ashoka Fellows. The regional office based in Johannesburg covers South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.
Our goal is to stimulate and support the most innovative entrepreneurial solutions to the social and environmental challenges we face today and together with other key stakeholders across sectors, to foster “Everyone A Changemaker” societies. This means equipping more people, including young people, with the skillset and a connection to purpose so that they can contribute ideas and effectively solve problems in their worlds - be it in their family, community, city, workplace, field, industry, country, or beyond. We provide connections to a global network, and a platform for people dedicated to changing the world. Ashoka is also ideally positioned to identify patterns in social innovation, convene key decision-makers from the social entrepreneurship, corporate, public and investment sectors to facilitate the emergence of collaborative models that can address the most critical societal challenges at large scale.
While the Ashoka network includes social entrepreneurs working on any critical societal issue - from education, human rights, civic participation, economic development to nutrition and healthcare among others – we are eager to spot and support solutions that are particularly relevant in the current regional context such as social cohesion, addressing economic inequalities, quality education for all and climate resilience amongst others. At an Africa level, our priority thematic areas include:
- 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 sustainable work.
- Agriculture and Nutrition: Recognizing that food security and good nutrition are vital to producing healthy African communities.
- Migration and Mobility: Supporting innovations to create sustainable livelihoods in Africa and promote dignity and respect for all Africans regardless of their economic or political status.
- Environment and Climate Resilience: Recognizing the progress and potential for Africa to build sustainable and green solutions to address climate change and build greater resilience.
- Health and Wellbeing: Ensuring all Africans have access to health care and are growing up to feel safe and secure.
Ashoka's Africa is composed of three other regional offices: Ashoka East Africa, Ashoka West Africa, and Ashoka Sahel