Ashoka - Innovators for the Public is the organization that democratized the term “social entrepreneurship”. Founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton, Ashoka has gathered since the largest social entrepreneurs network around the world (with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries!).
Where does the name “Ashoka” comes from?
Ashoka The Great was an Indian Philanthropic Emperor who unified the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BC, turning its back on war and developing social welfare. The name “Ashoka” means “painless, without sorrow” in Sanskrit (the primary sacred language of Hinduism).
So, we could say that Ashoka was the first social entrepreneur in the world!
What exactly do they do to help social entrepreneurs?
If you are interested in working with Ashoka, you can nominate yourself as a Fellow - which mean, you will be part of the large network of social entrepreneurs. They have specific entry criteria - you can check them out here. Being a Fellow means that you have to agree to the specific conditions of association (link here).
Once selected, you will gain lifetime support from Ashoka’s global network of entrepreneurs, and network investments through stipends that will allow you to dedicate all your time on your social idea.
Pretty cool, huh?
What is #StartEmpathy about?
This Ashoka campaign is the reason why I wanted to write an article about the organization. It started last year, and the vision is to provide a collaborative platform for social entrepreneurs, teachers, educators, and also citizen. In this platform, you can exchange ideas to create a world where every child is taught empathy at school.
Why is this important?
Well, empathy is what creates the next social entrepreneurs, so it is definitely crucial :-) #StartEmpathy is a campaign that gives us the tool to contribute to the creation of a society where empathetic characteristics are praised and valued. Where children can learn about word such as social justice, fairness, equality.
And isn’t that what we really want, after all?