Social entrepreneurship? What’s that? You don’t hear that question asked very often in 2011, about 40 years after Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka, first coined the phrase. Social entrepreneurship has grown from a promising notion into a global empathetic movement for social change powered by individuals.
Ashoka believes in an “” world; one in which all persons can—and do—respond quickly and effectively to social challenges. And that’s where the Ashoka Changemakers program comes in. Changemakers has developed a , catapulting innovative ideas from the first spark of inspiration into action, from action into measurable success, and from success into system-changing solutions.
Changemakers started small and looked entirely different back in 1993, when it first launched as Ashoka’s quarterly print magazine, chock-full of impact stories. Five short years later, Changemakers joined the dot com boom with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, transforming its print pages to Web pages; in 1999, USA Today recognized Changemakers as a “Hot Site.”
Changemakers launched its first online collaborative competition in 2002, and over the next decade, Changemakers has hosted about 50 competitions, attracted more than 10,000 entries from 125 countries, and directed more than US $600 million in funding to social innovators from around the world.
Now, Changemakers is changing again by launching a movement for open growth: a new way to accelerate social change by creating an environment for the transparent, dynamic evolution of innovation. Participants in the Changemakers open growth community will find opportunities to make investments that foster collaboration between entrepreneurs, and innovators can offer and request resources that help them or others realize their potential for contributing to real impact.
“Ashoka Changemakers provides a groundbreaking and elective process for sourcing and supporting innovations,” said Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. “The platform creates a space where innovators can collaborate with each other to work and grow their ideas.”
Collaboration is what the social change movement is about, at its core. Collaborative entrepreneurship, the movement Drayton describes as a “gigantic breakthrough,” is the critical process where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Innovate. Collaborate. Be a Changemaker