Transforming Childhood and Youth Years

Ashoka, the pioneer and leading international non-profit organization in the citizen sector, coined the term “social enterprise” in the early 1980’s decade and has decisively established the field of social entrepreneurship worldwide with more than 3,500 fellows in over 70 countries. Regarded a powerful force for good in the world, social entrepreneurs are people passionate about entrenched globally complex problems who find innovative ideas to systemically address them for a positive large-scale impact in society.

As the fellowship network and collaboration system expanded, it became clear that most Ashoka fellows went through similar entrepreneurial experiences when they were younger, usually in their teenage years. Furthermore, they tended to address youth-related issues. These patterns meant that young people were taking actions to improve situations that affected them as well as other children and adolescents. Therefore, Ashoka deemed of grand importance to put the youth in charge and proudly undertook the long-term endeavour of nourishing new generations whose capabilities and efforts had been neglected by an outdated system.

The Youth Venture was launched in 1996 to consistently develop key skills in young potential social entrepreneurs, move forward their projects, and engage them in the sector. In 2005, Ashoka refined its transformative vision towards an "Everyone a Changemaker™" (EACH) world; one that acts promptly to tackle social challenges effectively in which each young individual has the empowering confidence and support to drive positive change and create transformative opportunities for their communities. Hence, the Youth Venture consistently runs programs that so far have encouraged over 15,000 young people in more than 40 countries to practice the four essential skills for navigating today’s and tomorrow’s world. These are the Changemaking skills of empathy, new leadership, teamwork, and creative problem solving.

Additionally, in 2008 Ashoka launched the much-needed AshokaU program to catalyse social innovation in higher education through a global network of change teams composed of entrepreneurial students, faculty, and community leaders. To complement this, in 2012 the Changemakers Schools program was successfully implemented to activate a global community of leading elementary, middle, and high schools that prioritize the Changemaker skills as student outcomes. In this way, Ashoka has accomplished the establishment of a coherent line of work that bridges the gaps of skill development from childhood to adulthood in order for entrepreneurs to trust they can make the positive changes they need for a better society.