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Building an Everyone a Changemaker world means we both embrace our changemaking potential and enable those in our homes, schools, workplaces, and communities to do the same. This level of engagement is essential to ensure that shared challenges in a rapidly changing world — some of them existential — are met. New realities in the 21st century require us to adapt fluidly.


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This blog was inspired by a panel discussion that took place this week, which was the first of a ‘Navigating the Future’ webinar series, led by Ashoka UK and Ireland. This series brings together social innovators and business leaders from across sectors and geographies to discuss the topic of social innovation, and its role in building back a more resilient society after COVID-19.

In the space of ten weeks, across the world we have seen retailers collapse, food manufacturers such as Danone ramp up production and technology giants like Apple and Google build contact-tracing apps with government. …


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A New Narrative for Challenging Times

Countries across Europe have started to turn the corner on COVID-19. But the pandemic’s effects will be felt long after lockdowns have ended. Our understanding of ‘normal’ has been shaken. Many of us feel exposed and vulnerable — economically, socially, psychologically. Individual and shared wellbeing are compromised as a result.

But Ashoka Fellows from the UK, Ireland and around the world are stepping up to help. They are using creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to challenge this narrative. …


Growing up in rural south-east Nigeria, as the first born child in my family, I assisted my mum in her small business as she struggled to make a living. When the opportunity to go and live with my aunt in eastern Nigerian arose, I was excited; I thought I would be relieved from the hard work at home. Unknown to me, I moved from the frying pan into the fire.

My aunt, Maureen, was a cassava farmer who struggled to make a living from growing, harvesting, and then the laborious work of processing the cassava into finished products — which is tedious, back-breaking and time-consuming. Together, we worked to earn enough money to afford food and occasionally medicines. It was in the furnace of these painful childhood experiences that my vision for Kadosh Production Company (KPC) was born.

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Image from Kadosh Production Company

KPC helps poor women cassava farmers have better livelihood by making processing easier and sales of finished cassava products more profitable. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, an edible starchy tuberous root which is a major source of carbohydrate. Whilst women contribute around 70 per cent of the total labour required to produce, process, market and distribute it, they earn just 17 per cent of the total associated income, this imbalance has very real impact. …


In 2015 Social Enterprise UK reported that the proportion of social enterprises that grew their turnover was 52 per cent, compared with 40 per cent of SMEs.

Social entrepreneurs are increasingly leading the way in economic growth and social change. From poverty to climate change to gender inequality social entrepreneurs are tackling some of the world’s biggest problems with unlikely approaches from unconventional places.

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Image from Elaine Livingstone

On a football pitch:

Ashoka Fellow Mel Young is fighting homelessness, from a football pitch. According to the United Nations around 100 million people globally are homeless, and as many as one billion people lack adequate housing. In the UK over 2000 people sleep without shelter on any particular night. The challenge around tackling homelessness is in part the complexity of the problem: homelessness often stems from a variety of factors, and solutions require far more than providing housing. Furthermore individuals are frequently incredibly difficult to reach through programmes, this is where the power of football comes in. Mel Young founded The Homeless World Cup, an annual international tournament which unites teams of homeless people to represent their country. …


Matthew was 30 years old when he was diagnosed with Schizoid Affective Disorder. The diagnosis arrived at a moment of accelerating crisis within his life — increasing isolation, frequent breakdowns, anxiety and self-harm.

Now 58 and looking back on this period he recognises the complexity and the loneliness of the condition and his life at that point “[I] really struggled to make any sort of life that felt good or positive or satisfying. I developed an act that pushed people away from me, becoming loud, brash, insensitive and seemingly confident. But it was a layer and underneath I was cripplingly unconfident [sic] with an utter lack of self-worth and negative self-image.”

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Image from The Reader

Matthew is not alone in his experience of isolation; Britain is suffering a crisis of loneliness. In 2014 the Office for National Statistics found Britain to be the ‘loneliness capital’ of Europe. This absence of social cohesion is emerging as a public health concern as it relates directly to mental health issues. This month The Times reported that the NHS spends £5.5 million on anti-depressant medications every week, the costs of the mental health crisis are increasing rapidly in both human and financial terms. …


“Nearly every problem has been solved by someone, somewhere. The challenge of the 21st century is to find out what works and scale it up.” — Bill Clinton

In a world where half of the current job market is at the risk of being automated by machines, where change is rapid and problems are evermore complex and interconnected, the ability to think creatively, navigate knowledge and adapt to novel situations is proving more and more essential for the next generation. But so far, the gap between what our societies and economies demand and what schools provide seems to be widening.

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Image from Design for Change

The Re-imagine Learning Network, a collaboration between the LEGO Foundation and Ashoka, is an international network of social innovators that use learning through play as an effective means to address these issues and provide children with quality learning experiences and establish the vital skills needed to thrive in the 21st century. …


“Nearly every problem has been solved by someone, somewhere. The challenge of the 21st century is to find out what works and scale it up.” — Bill Clinton

In a world where half of the current job market is at the risk of being automated by machines, where change is rapid and problems are evermore complex and interconnected, the ability to think creatively, navigate knowledge and adapt to novel situations is proving more and more essential for the next generation. But so far, the gap between what our societies and economies demand and what schools provide seems to be widening.

Virgin Unite, education, Ashoka, Design for Change

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Image from Design for…


Abu Musuuza, founder of Village Energy and Simon Berry, co-founder of ColaLife, are applying a business approach to ‘effective delivery’ to increase access to health and clean energy in places where services are hardest to deliver.

‘Last-mile’ communities are notoriously difficult to reach: they lack infrastructure, are geographically isolated and have limited access to relevant information. Ashoka Fellows Abu Musuuza and Simon Berry, go beyond physically getting solutions to those that need it, and instead use a ‘whole-market’ approach to ensure that communities in sub-Saharan Africa are able to build stronger health and clean energy systems.

Virgin Unite, entrepreneur, sustainability, Ashoka, ColaLife

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Image from ColaLife

By catalysing markets according to existing networks and locally-defined needs and value, and embedding local knowledge and responsibility, they are creating solutions that are sustainable and support communities to drive their own development.

Around 1,400 children under five die each day from diarrhoea — a condition easily treated with oral rehydration salts and zinc supplements (ORSZ). Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest child mortality-rate for diarrhoea and the lowest availability of ORSZ. According to UNICEF, progress of this intervention has been slow, due to a lack of awareness, availability, access, and correct use. …


Despite a population of approximately 6.1 million people, Lao PDR has only two qualified psychiatrists, one of whom is Dr. Chantharavady Choulamany, BasicNeeds Lao PDR’s Programme Manager.Since 2007 BasicNeeds has been working hard to address the need for better community based mental health care and support, and increase the number of in-country mental health care professionals.

Earlier this year, BasicNeeds facilitated the first ever counselling training for Buddhist monks in Pek district, Xiengkhouang province, in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). …

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Ashoka UK & Ireland

We work across sectors with social entrepreneurs, businesses and educators to create a world in which everyone is equipped and empowered to be a changemaker.

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