Social Entrepreneurship: Ashoka
The case illustrates how Ashoka, a social entrepreneur organization was formed and reasons for its formation in terms of what motivated the founder as well as some example of people who have benefited from it. Ashoka: Innovators for the public was founded by Bill Drayton in 1980. (www. theatlantic. com). He spends his time searching for people who have a vision of solving or bringing about social change in areas that are of critical human need. The founder had an interest in organizations even at a young age.
In his high school he established a student organization and at the university level he formed the Ashoka table that brought about parties from the government, churches and unions to establish how they worked. Ashoka was named after an Indian emperor who renounced violence and dedicated his life to the public good. He also had a significant impact on environmental protection agency. The soft spoken man has been an executive in over 20 associations thus his high competitiveness. Ashoka would be the ‘most critical ingredient in the development processes’. www. theatlantic. com). Ashoka is an organization that supports social entrepreneurs across the globe.
It has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia and is spread to 33 countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia. On establishing a bona fide social entrepreneur, Ashoka foundation elects him or her to a fellowship. It provides financial and professional support to help launch the selected entrepreneur’s ideas. It connects the entrepreneur to other entrepreneurs with similar problems thus increasing their knowledge.
Ashoka looks for people with fresh ideas and ability; people who have a vision, drive and practical creativity and help them expand the scope of their work on a large scale. (www. theatlantic. com). The players in Ashoka include a large network of nominators’ electors, members’ fellow and supporters. Other players involved include prominent government, unions and church leaders. Nominators and electors sacrifice their time for the foundation. Volunteers also contribute much to the success of Ashoka. To finance it, Ashoka got it’s funding from private foundations friends, and Bill Drayton, the founders’ own finances.
Ashoka is a social entrepreneurship as it supports people who can impact change on society and helps them by empowering them. It is geared to social change. Its measure of success is the change that it brings to society and not in profits as say. It goes all the way from establishing a problem, means to solve it and linking entrepreneurs with relevant bodies and sees to it that the issue is well addressed. (www. theatlantic. com). Targeted people can create a mark on the people. They can set or change patterns at a national level or at a regional level.
Ashoka seeks high yields from modest and well targeted investments. It does not seek returns in profits but in advances in education, environmental protection, rural development, poverty alleviation, human rights healthcare and care for the disabled and children at risk and other social related issues. The innovative people it searches for must have a reputation so that the society can improve for the better. Ashoka combines visionary and the actual problem solving creativity with strong ethnical fiber. Entrepreneurs have a personality that shows them they are in the world to create change in a fundamental way.
They do not delight with identifying and merely expressing an idea or even solving a problem. They care about the effects such actions have on the environment. They are open-minded and this explains why they do not excel in academia or specialize in any field. They are keen to all details in the society in spite of their tiny ness. Social entrepreneurs have a strong belief that they have a great impact or difference in society. Emergence of a problem in society leaves them thinking critically what they can do at their current position. (www. theatlantic. om). Florence nightingale is among the greatest social entrepreneurs in history.
Her care to British soldiers triggered her abilities. She introduced hygienic standards that reduced deaths in military hospitals by approximately 40%. Her ideas diffused to the wider medical establishment. Ashoka’s criteria of identifying and systematically screening potential individuals who would bring change to society involve four processes. They check for creativity of individuals, their entrepreneurial quality, social impact of the person’s idea and its ethical fiber.
Selected candidates then go through several screening processes in their respective areas. The processes include nomination, reference checks, and visit checks and interviews by respective Ashoka’s in- country representatives. A selection panel comprising of 3-4 social entrepreneurs from the country and senior Ashoka staff members from other continents offers a second opinion about the candidates. This procedure ensures that the selected candidate have an idea that can bring social change not only on a national level but even beyond.
Ashoka’s founder Drayton sees it as the first professional association for social entrepreneur that offers a new career path. Candidates ought to understand all areas that are relevant to their issues of interest. They should understand the scope of their vision and believe they can succeed in their mission. Among Ashoka’s successful candidates is Fabio Rosa who had an ambition of bringing electricity to millions of poor people in Brazil. He portrayed a high level of knowledge ability on issues like electrical engineering, irrigation, rice farming, land grazing, solar power, banking and politics all of which were relevant to his vision.
Working closely with poor small-scale farmers who depended on rice farming, he was able to grasp their main problems at the grass root level. (www. theatlantic. com). Lack of water was their main problem as they were forced to acquire it from rich land owners at exploitative prices. Minimal acquisition of water hindered effective farming and consequently low production. The vicious circle had to keep existing as with low production there was no wealth and poverty stuck. He met with a professor who could develop rural electricity at an affordable price. This would help farmers as they could access wells and irrigate their land.
This would increase their wealth, as production levels would raise. The professor’s simplified system was however illegal as it had not met the set standards though it was effective Rosa got authorization from the governor to test the professor’s electrical system. A successful experiment saw the establishment of cheap rural electrification. People standards of living improved as their incomes rose. Ashoka helped him develop his system although his term of office had expired. He was able to assist rural electrification to 42 municipal cities through his Project Light. He also pushed for his standards to be approved and was successful.
Rosa is glad that Ashoka showed him he was a social entrepreneur who would take the extra step to move beyond theory and provide practical solutions to problems as they emerge. (www. theatlantic. com). Ashoka has been able to extent its networks of fellows in various fields for instance education, children, environment, income generation, women issues, disability as well as poverty alleviation. (www. theatlantic. com). Social issues have emerged across the world, some cultures still believe that disability for instance mental illness is a curse and this leads to stigmatization of affected families.
Professionals in such areas are also minimal and cannot effectively handle the problem. Social entrepreneurs must work to ensure that the services are low cost, and are culturally competent in solving the problems. Ashoka’s founder Drayton hopes to see Ashoka establish itself in as many areas as possible and turns out to be an alternative to the scouting movement. (www. theatlantic. com). It also helps the young people by empowering them and giving them a chance to highlight chances they think can help their society.
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