Writing a blog about Social Entrepreneurship would be incomplete without writing about Ashoka – a Washington based non profit started by Bill Drayton in 1980 that virtually coined the term “Social Entrepreneur”.
Ashoka has built a worldwide network that has identified and supported over 1900 social entrepreneurs in 60 plus countries. They follow a rigorous nomination and review process to identify leading social entrepreneurs around the world. Ashoka looks for candidates with innovative new ideas, reviews their professional and ethical backgrounds, conducts in-depth interviews and determines the potential national impact of the innovator’s ideas. It is a great network of leaders in various social fields from all parts of the world.
Ashoka recently launched the Ashoka Support Network (ASN) in the United States. The Ashoka Support Network is a network of socially-minded business and philanthropic leaders who are dedicated to supporting Ashoka and its Ashoka Fellows by providing resources, mentoring, and sharing experience, expertise and contacts. ASN members have an opportunity to
- Get personally engaged by partnering with social entrepreneurs,
- Visit Ashoka Fellows in their native countries as part of small group trips
- Meet other like minded individuals and Ashoka Fellows at sponsored dinners
- Line up internships for children with Ashoka Fellow organizations
- Provide seed financing for Ashoka Fellows
Ashoka has held a couple of ASN dinner meetings in Boston. At the first one guests had an opportunity to hear visiting Ashoka Fellow Muthu Velayutham and locally-based Ashoka Fellow Willy Foote. At their second event, Ashoka’s Director of South Asian Partnerships, Sohini Bhattacharya, and Lily Paul, Ashoka Support Network Director in India, spoke of their work in India. This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to give back and support social entrepreneurs.