Ashoka, Innovators for the Public

By William Meehan III, Georgia Koehane
2012 | Case No. SM203

Since its founding in 1980, Ashoka: Innovators for the Public had supported the work of over 3,000 of the world’s most visionary social entrepreneurs; men and women who, in Ashoka founder Bill Drayton’s words, are tireless pioneers of “system-changing solutions that advance the world’s most urgent social problems.” Through these efforts, Ashoka was also widely credited with building the larger field of social entrepreneurship. And yet, just at the moment when Ashoka’s dynamism had propelled social entrepreneurship into the mainstream, Drayton and his colleagues embraced an even more expansive view of social change. According to this new vision, everyone in society, not only the most path-breaking social entrepreneurs, could and should be “changemakers” (the EACH vision). Drayton believed that this shift was such a “fundamental change, that it affects everything;” the revolution went far beyond Ashoka, to include not only the basic architecture of organizations –a move from walled hierarchies to teams of teams– but also the generative sources of knowledge and information which could be open sourced and widely shared. This case traces the evolution of Ashoka’s mission and vision for social change, and the programmatic and organizational changes required to accommodate the EACH worldview.

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