The Ashoka Journal Spring 2016
The Ashoka Journal Team: Editor: Meera Patel | Communications Ashoka UK & Ashoka Europe Illustration & Design: Thomas Prestidge Contributors: Ross Hall | Director of Education, Ashoka Europe
Adam Lent | Director of Research and Innovation, Ashoka Europe Rob Wilson | Director, Ashoka UK Ellen Goodman | Communications, Ashoka UK With special thanks to: Robin Chase, Amy Clark, Bill Drayton, Michela Fenech, Paul Lindley, Laxmi Parthasarathy, Meera Vijayann, Muhammad Yunus.
With thanks to our media partners
Weâ€™d love to hear from you: Ashoka UK 15 Old Ford Road London E2 9PJ UK Tel: +44 (0)20 8980 9416 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org uk.ashoka.org Ashoka UK is a Registered Charity in England and Wales (1113246). Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ashokauk Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ashokauk For more articles visit us on Medium at www.medium.com/@AshokaUK
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Welcome to the first issue of The Ashoka Journal, a collection of the best, recent thought pieces and insights from around Ashoka. We are publishing at a moment of profound social and political change: the gap between the rich and the poor is wider than it has ever been before. Chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, Alan Milburn has warned of a “permanently divided” society in the face of growing intergenerational inequality. This crisis is not just in the UK, it is developing globally, as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have come to Europe looking for safe, prosperous lives over the last year. Featuring entrepreneurs ranging from Muhammad Yunus to Paul Lindley to Robin Chase we explore responses to the challenges of this inequality, founded in both business and society at large. Drawing knowledge from our network of over 200 schools and universities we consider the role that education plays in solving these challenges. We also examine entrepreneurial responses to the escalating ‘migration crisis’ in Europe, from redesigning refugee camps to helping migrants assimilate into their new homes. The Ashoka Journal is designed to bring a new voice to contemporary conversation, investigating the possibility of a response to age old problems, that is grounded in empowerment, entrepreneurialism and community engagement.
Contents Empowering Teachers to Build a Better World Ross Hall
The Age of Empowerment is Here (If We Want It) Adam Lent
“Do the Reverse” Muhammad Yunus
Want True Equality? Make Everyone Powerful Bill Drayton
Who knows the solution to the European migration crisis? The refugees themselves Adam Lent
Grow Faster, Learn Faster and Adapt Faster”: Building a Collaborative Economy Robin Chase
Empowering not Imposing - Why Women Need to Lead an Organisational Revolution Meera Patel
“Think Like a Toddler” – The Best Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Paul Lindley
Quality, Supply and Demand in Education Ross Hall
Uncertainty and the Rise of the Entrepreneurial Career Path Michela Fenech
What social entrepreneurs can teach the private sector about commercial success Rob Wilson
Using creativity and collaboration to inspire young people to be changemakers Ellen Goodman
Why community sports clubs are key to tackling youth unemployment Ellen Goodman
Empowering Teachers to Build a Better World Ross Hall | Director of Education, Ashoka Europe
 Self-empowerment is used here as an umbrella term for a number of closely-related ideas including self-agency, selfdetermination, self-efficacy, self-authorship, and so on.  Changemaking skills is used as an umbrella term to denote the things that are often called competencies, capabilities, capacities, dispositions, strengths, qualities, etc.
Living and thriving in a new world Fuelled by explosions in population growth, urbanisation and technological advancement , our world today is defined by accelerating volatility, complexity and hyper-connectivity . These conditions are changing the way that we understand the tangle of social, economic and environmental problems, no longer solely the concern of the disenfranchised, they are now becoming everyone’s problems , and they increasingly demand a collective approach to solve them. From centralised decision-making to rigid hierarchies, the traditional techniques of problem solving are becoming increasingly obsolete. We can no longer afford to be compliant, to simply follow the rules or do what we have always done. For people to thrive together in the modern world, we need them to become self-empowered, to live for our collective wellbeing.
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A person who becomes self-empowered in this way uses her innate abilities again and again: to solve problems , to create opportunities and to empower others. With the most progressive organisations now empowering their customers and staff through models of mass participation, decentralisation and do-it-yourself she is in great demand.
Being and becoming self-empowered But being self-empowered like this — being a changemaker — is not just about working life. It’s about the way you live your life , your attitude, your actions and the decisions you make from moment to moment. Being self-empowered - changemaking — requires an understanding of the world that acknowledges that individual wellbeing is inextricably entwined with collective wellbeing. It means taking responsibility and collaborating with others to make life better for yourself and family and friends and community and humanity and the planet. Self-empowerment is a way of being: it involves being empathic, thoughtful and creative. Being curious and resilient. Becoming self-empowered, then, is a process of using and developing a complex array of changemaking skills. Within the limits imposed by our genes, the extent to which we become self-empowered is largely determined by the experiences we have throughout childhood and adolescence.
Influencing the experience of growing up Although changemaking skills are essential to employment and economic development , to social and environmental wellbeing and to personal and collective wellbeing , nurturing deep changemaking powers is rarely in our minds when we are shaping the experiences of young people. Commercial and cultural influences often pull in opposite directions and despite often good intentions, parenting is typically ill-informed and improvised. And for most, the experience of school reflects a limited conception of the human mind, the human being and human potential. It usually reveals a highly individualistic and narrowly economic orientation. And it reinforces compliance and outdated hierarchical power structures. While many children and adolescents are benefitting hugely from experiences, inside and outside of school, which are explicitly intended to help them become self-empowered, they remain within a very small minority. Even for those who benefit, their experiences are usually isolated and sporadic.
Building new learning ecosystems If we want the new world to become our better world, then we need to give every young person access to coherent experiences , inside and outside of school, that help them to become self-empowered. We need to create experiences that are woven and scaffolded throughout their childhood and adolescence and in which adults and young people are consciously helping each other become self-empowered.
In other words, we need to build new learning ecosystems — involving young people, parents, teachers, out-of-school educators, educational leaders, policymakers, media and cultural influencers all working together. To support these learning ecosystems, we need a range of conditions: self-empowering curricula, assessments and evaluations, new university admissions and employer hiring practices, mechanisms for stimulating innovation, applying research and sharing good practice, and the considered application of technology and money.
Empowering teachers and educators Teachers and other out-of-school educators are instrumental to building these new learning ecosystems insofar as they can: 1. help young people become self-empowered by way of their direct and immediate influence over the experience of young people; 2. influence the culture of their schools and organisations to self-empower young people and colleagues; 3. lead systemic change beyond their schools and organisations — by influencing other educators, education leaders and parents. Teachers and educators must be trained and supported to embrace and succeed in these demanding roles. They must be self-empowered to self-empower others - an idea that is in direct opposition to what many regard as a systematic dis-empowerment of teachers that is sweeping the world . Furthermore it is a major challenge where teacher shortages are chronic. In the context of these conditions we believe we need to: 1. improve the status of teachers and teaching; 2. give teachers ownership of their own professional standards; 3. enable teachers to lead pedagogical innovation, spread good practice and collaborate; 4. reinvent initial teacher training and professional development; 5. equip teachers and educators to lead systemic change. To make these changes, we need pioneering teachers and educators to come together as change leaders, to form collaborative teams and to execute strategic projects. The foundations of these projects like within a global community of education professionals who are fully committed to empowering educators — to empower young people. This article was first published on www.medium.com/@Ashoka on 14th March 2016. Photo Credit: School 21 and Victoria Park Academy
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The Age of Empowerment is Here (if we want it) Adam Lent | Director of Research and Innovation, Ashoka Europe
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If you enjoy the sensation of dizziness take a look at the UN’s recently adopted mission: the Sustainable Development Goals. There are no less than 169 targets grouped together under seventeen aims. The assembled states of the world expect to eliminate poverty, achieve well-being for all and end gender inequality (to name just three of the aims) by 2030. Ambitious enough to leave a newly arrived messiah sweating over a Gantt chart. It would be easy to dismiss such lofty goals as little more than the pipe dreams of well-meaning UN officials and the PR gloss for some more or less savoury political leaders. But this ignores how much has in fact been achieved over the last few decades. Contrary to popular belief, for example, global inequality has declined massively (Sustainable Development Goal no. 10, if you’re asking). In 1960, the U.S. was eleven times richer than Asia. Today it is less than five times richer. There are now 130 million less people facing hunger (Sustainable Development Goal no. 2) than there were twenty years ago. That’s despite the global population growing by 1.5 billion over the same period. The percentage of the world’s population living in extreme poverty (goal no.1) has fallen from approximately 35% in 1990 to around 10% today. What’s driven this unprecedented shift to a better world? The truth is that hundreds of millions of ordinary people around the world have made this change for themselves by setting up businesses, coming up with innovations and generating wealth. A good portion of that wealth has been used to directly address some of the deep social and economic problems the UN’s goals highlight. What the last two or three decades show is that when people are given the freedom and the resources to improve their own lives and the lives of others they will seize the opportunity and do it far better than any state hierarchy. Indeed, the greatest contribution governments have made in that time, particularly in Asia and Latin America, has been to stop trying to do all the work themselves and instead let their populations get on with it. Governments are slowly becoming aware that the secret to positive change is to empower others to generate that change. But they are not alone. There are at least three other shifts underway that make this ‘age of empowerment’ even more intense.
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What is Driving the Age of Empowerment? First, there is a new wave of empowering technology. Social media, for example, grew exponentially by giving millions the tools to create and share online, bypassing the conventional hierarchies of the media. Companies like Etsy have well over a million small arts and crafts firms on their website empowered to sell across the globe without the need for wholesalers or marketing firms. 3D printing, the Internet of Things and blockchain are poised to introduce similar empowering disruption to manufacturing, energy generation and finance. Second, there is the massive shift in values charted in rigorous detail over forty years by the Michigan University Professor Ronald Inglehart. This is the move from populations primarily concerned with material issues such as having enough food to feed the family and a decent place to live to what Ingelhart’s collaborator Christian Welzel calls “emancipatory values”. These are the search for self-determination, free choice and creativity. As the research shows, this desire for freedom and empowerment becomes more widespread as a population becomes wealthier so we should expect such a trend to accelerate throughout Latin America, Asia and elsewhere just as it has in Europe since the 1950s. Third is the transformation in the way we organise ourselves. The traditional hierarchical business based on an elite of decision-makers and a mass of drone-like workers is increasingly struggling to survive in very complex and volatile markets. Under today’s business conditions, there is rarely enough time to refer decisions upwards, let alone sufficient expertise at the top to make the right choices. Authors such as Frederic Laloux, Brian Robertson and Isaac Getz are revealing how business is reinventing itself around principles of radical decentralisation and worker autonomy and even abolition of management to survive. Firms like Buurtzorg, Zappos and Valve are showing the sorts of gains in productivity and competitiveness that result.
Releasing the Age of Empowerment Despite this progress, big problems obviously still exist. Poverty, hunger and gross inequality may have been eroded but they have not disappeared. And, of course, the threat of runaway climate change now looms large over the globe.
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If we are to make the sort of leap the UN envisages by 2030 then the empowerment of the last three decades needs to be intensified. Billions more must be freed to take charge of their own destiny so they can generate the explosion of wealth and innovation required to solve these challenges.
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If we are to make the sort of leap the UN envisages by 2030 then the empowerment of the last three decades needs to be intensified. Billions more must be freed to take charge of their own destiny so they can generate the explosion of wealth and innovation required to solve these challenges.
Empowered Individuals The starting-point, as ever, is education. Too many of the worldâ€™s schools and universities are modelled on the old, hierarchical elitism of the last century. Students are regarded as empty vessels that simply need to be filled up with knowledge and skills readying them for their niche in a static labour market. As a result, educational institutions disempower students through their teaching methods and simultaneously fail to prepare them to seize the benefits of empowerment. The institutions in Ashokaâ€™s Changemaker Schools and Campus networks take a different approach. They treat students as creative, entrepreneurial problem-solvers and give them the power, skills and resources to generate change both while learning and after they graduate. But such inspirational places are still a minority and without a real shift in the way whole education systems work the Age of Empowerment will fail to reach its full potential by some considerable margin.
Empowering Organisations There is also a great deal to do to break down wider organisational hierarchies. Business is shifting but too slowly. The sorts of imbalances of power built into large corporations that leave management and investors with huge influence over budgets, rewards and strategy feels increasingly outdated. It is an imbalance that explains why self-employment is an increasingly attractive option for millions across the world. It also explains why established corporations are rightly fearful of the way their sectors are being rapidly disrupted by new businesses that have placed the empowerment of staff, customers and other stakeholders at the heart of their business model. These trends need to be embraced and encouraged and the increasingly regular attempts we see by established, hierarchical businesses to defend their patch must be resisted.
Empowering Systems The positive impact of empowered individuals and empowering organisations will be limited however if the economic and political systems within which they operate remain deeply disempowering. Although inequality between nations and regions has fallen in the last three decades, wealth and economic power is still highly concentrated. The top 500 global corporations earn one third of all business revenues. Sixty-two of the world’s wealthiest people are as rich as 3.6 billion of the earth’s population. Political systems also face a challenge to open themselves up so that ordinary citizens rather than party and media elites are empowered to influence big decisions. It is telling that research shows that a big driver of the recent success of populist parties and candidates in Europe and America is the sense that millions feel disempowered by the state’s decision-making processes. So humanity faces an important choice between two alternative futures. One where the full benefits of an empowered world are missed and we fail to rid the earth of the human suffering that has scarred it for so many centuries. Or one where all elites — educational, business, political — finally accept that the key to a better world is to let the people of the planet create that world for themselves. Maybe with such a shift we will look back in 2030 on the UN’s stretching goals and feel a little less dizzy. This article was first published on on www.medium.com/@Ashoka on 9th March 2016. Photo credit: Caroline Kant, Esperare Foundation
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“Do the Reverse” Muhammad Yunus | Founder, Grameen Bank, Nobel Prize Winner
Muhammad Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, the pioneering Dhaka-based organization that spread microcredit and microfinance globally. Professor Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his transformative impact. Ashoka had a chance to catch up with him just before the 2016 World Economic Forum. Ashoka: You’ve been a global defining force in several spheres, including microcredit and more recently, social business. What’s got your attention right now? Professor Yunus: We’re in a moment of tremendous change — not linear but exponential — and we need to bring our society through a transition process to one of more evenly distributed wealth and power. This is summed up in my three focus areas that are foundational to everything else: zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions. Within this, I’m drilling down on unemployment and wealth concentration. We all know that the world’s wealth is controlled by a handful of people. More worrying is the speed at which wealth is further concentrating. Today we are talking about the one percent. Tomorrow it will be half a percent, then one-tenth, and so on.
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We are not born to sit around and watch, doing nothing. Today, our education system produces job seekers ending up with a job application when it should prepare job creators armed with a business plan. This is a very different mindset and it leads to a happier life and more stable economy.
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Every single person has unlimited capacity and it’s the job of parents and teachers and all of us to help young people peel off the layers and discover themselves. Only then can they fully contribute.
Photo credit: The Yunus Centre
This is totally disastrous, so we need to work quickly to undo the harmful things that are reflected in our economic framework and move toward a new, more selfless civilization. So I am spending time sharing how to achieve this and what role new frameworks in social business and education can play. Ashoka: How does zero unemployment happen? Professor Yunus: This is built into microcredit and demonstrated by 8.5 million borrowers in Bangladesh and some 140 million globally. Most are women — some are successful entrepreneurs, others are struggling entrepreneurs. Regardless, this is the path they wanted. If an illiterate woman living in a remote village in Bangladesh can turn herself into an entrepreneur, why is a literate person with a university degree sitting around because no one will give him a job? We have equipped him with absolutely the wrong mental lens. That is where we went wrong. Unemployment is an artificial state and it doesn’t belong to human beings.
We are not born to sit around and watch, doing nothing. Today, our education system produces job seekers ending up with a job application when it should prepare job creators armed with a business plan. This is a very different mindset and it leads to a happier life and more stable economy. Ashoka: Interesting, and an alternative way to look at it… Professor Yunus: I don’t say alternative, I say it’s the reverse. Everything we have done is the reverse of conventional. They go to the city, we go to the village. They go to men, we go to women. They say people should come to the bank, we say the bank should go to the people. They say you need to be job seekers, we say job creators. They say business is about maximizing profit, we say forget about profit, all we want to do is solve problems. Everything is opposite. In the new civilization, everything has to be done in the reverse way. Ashoka: Let’s talk about education. What would a “reverse” school look like? Professor Yunus: We need to redesign education so that it supports young people to become full human beings and create the world they want to live in. So a reverse school gives them practice building their own ideas for the future, helping their peers do the same, and then stepping back to see how it all fits together. What does the world imagined by the class of 2016 look like? What about the class of 2017, 2018 and so on? This back and forth — individual and collective, one piece and the whole — will help young people ask themselves: What role do I want to play? What’s inside of me that I can contribute? In the old days, we used to say that the whole idea of growing up should be “know thyself.” We have lost this and we need to bring it back. And why wait for graduation to set dreams in motion? Young people are full human beings and quite capable. Ashoka: What advice do you have for parents? Professor Yunus: The best advice I have for parents is to give your child space. Treat her like a full person right from the beginning. If you always hold her on your lap, she will not grow. Let her discover her own world. She may explore things you don’t like but let her curiosity and sense of her own capacity develop. It’s a very difficult balance and requires some skill, knowing when to help and when to stay out of the way. Every single person has unlimited capacity and it’s the job of parents and teachers and all of us to help young people peel off the layers and discover themselves. Only then can they fully contribute. This article was first published on huffingtonpost.com on 23rd January, 2016, as part of the coverage of The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting.
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Want True Equality? Make Everyone Powerful Bill Drayton | Founder and CEO of Ashoka
I just heard a story that I adore. It comes from Ali Raza Khan, an Ashoka social entrepreneur and education reformer in Pakistan. Last year, he challenged 6,000 poor students across 74 charity government vocational schools to create ventures within a month. He went to them and said, “I believe in you. You can all start businesses and citizen groups and you can all succeed.” He said this to all the students in all the schools, none of whom came from privileged backgrounds. He helped them organize into peer teams and get started sharing ideas, helping each other, building things together. He banished trainings because they are environments where someone tells you what to do. His organization provided modest seed capital to each team, agreeing to absorb any loss. A month later, over 80 percent of the students had profitable ventures up and running, very few teams did not succeed. I love this because it shows that the problem isn’t young people — it’s us. We create a poisonous atmosphere when we tell young people “you can’t” in so many subtle and not so subtle ways. They can — and they must!
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Like Ali, almost all of the roughly 1,000 Ashoka Fellows (out of 3,300) who are focused on children and young people do more than believe in them: They put them in charge. So do 200 Ashoka Changemaker Schools and 35 Ashoka-affiliated colleges and universities. The results are dramatic and marvellous. Once a teen has had a dream, built a team, and changed her world, she will be a changemaker for life, contributing again and again to whatever problem needs solving. She has her power. She will never be afraid. And she will be in great demand. We live in a world where the demand for those who can adapt to and contribute to change is accelerating exponentially, even as the demand for repetitive work is falling just as fast. For many, many centuries the game was efficiency in repetition (think assembly lines and law firms). You were educated in a skill, be it a barber or a banker, which you were meant to apply for the rest of your life. Life was guided by rules orchestrated by the few for the many.
We live in a world where the demand for those who can adapt to and contribute to change is accelerating exponentially, even as the demand for repetitive work is falling just as fast.
Photo Credit: Nonhlanhla Masina
Once a teen has had a dream, built a team, and changed her world, she will be a changemaker for life, contributing again and again to whatever problem needs solving. She has her power. She will never be afraid
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In today’s change-driven environment, these old ways are becoming extinct. Success now goes to fast-morphing teams of teams — whose members are observing, adapting, spotting opportunities, and helping build and serve new teams of teams around these newly identified goals. Anyone who cannot play this game is out. You can’t play the change game unless you are a changemaker. How many schools, education reformers, and parents know that they are failing unless their young people are practicing being changemakers? And that the most important educational metric has become: “What percent of any school’s studentsknow they are changemakers?” Education reform that is about equal access to an obsolete system ensures at best a generation of failure. Trying to solve youth unemployment by “giving young people needed skills” is a chimera. Major turning points always catch societies by surprise. And this is the big one. It changes the most basic structures of society. It is far bigger than any technology-based revolution. It leads to a wonderful place. An “everyone a changemaker” world is one: • Where problems cannot outrun solutions. • That is structurally far more equal because everyone is powerful. • Where everyone, not just the fortunate elites, can express love and respect in action — the root cause of happiness and health. The alternative is a deeply divided, angry world. The challenge for leaders — and all of us — is to recognize and welcome the fact that we are at a turning point — and now change everything from growing up to how we lead. This article was first published on huffingtonpost.com on 19th January, 2016, as part of the coverage of The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting. Photo Credit: Ali Raza Khan, YES Pakistan
Who knows the solution to the European migration crisis? The refugees themselves Adam Lent | Director of Research and Innovation, Ashoka Europe
Photo credit: Peter Tkac, these images are re-used under a Creative Commons License. You can see more of his work here: www.flickr. com/photos/peter_tkac/
Setting yourself the goal of turning some of the most miserable, hopeless places on earth into hubs of opportunity and creativity may sound like a mission for the fatally naïve but this is exactly what Daniel Kerber has done. Working in refugee camps across the world, the German entrepreneur has a simple rule to complete this testing task: stop seeing those fleeing violence as victims or as problems but instead as creative people who are themselves the source of the solutions to the challenges they face. The practical expression of Daniel’s principle is More Than Shelters: an organisation that helps refugees redesign their own camps using pre-fabricated but adaptable structures called Domos. In Za’atari, Jordan — one of the biggest camps in the world — the method has led to the establishment of community centres, schools, an urban farm and even a tech lab turning out 3D-printed prosthetic limbs.
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If Europe can adopt more of this spirit then like Daniel Kerber’s vision, the continent may become more than just a sorry shelter but rather a place for flourishing and creativity. And that will be good not just for the new arrivals but for the Europeans who already call the continent ‘home’.
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Between the news that refugees are starting to arrive in Europe at three times the rate of last year and the latest clashes in Eastern Europe, Daniel’s outlook will be more necessary in his home continent than ever before. This is, to say the least, a challenge. The overwhelming response of the media and politicians positions the refugees either as a group in need of urgent support from government or as a potential threat to the interests of European nations: victims or problems again. This is not to belittle the very real security challenges of such a vast movement of people nor is it to deny that many refugees are in desperate need of immediate care and support. But when hundreds of thousands of people arrive on your doorstep, the challenges are not short term. Very many of these people may not be able to return to their home countries for years. Indeed, if previous waves of migration into and across Europe are anything to go by, many of the new arrivals are likely to remain in the continent for the rest of their lives. Their children and their grandchildren will be born and grow up here. Seeing and treating them as charity cases or threats is the worst way to start the process of the longer term integration of refugees into the social, political and economic life of Europe. Very quickly the complaint that migrants will be isolated and alienated communities living on the fringes of mainstream society dependent on generous government support will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fortunately, there are others like Daniel who recognise the risks. People such as Ahmad Eldibi whose organisation Dubarah is mobilising Syrian ex-pat communities and no less than 80,000 volunteers to help refugees find work, secure investment for their business ideas and get basic advice on adapting to unfamiliar cultures. Or Nathanael Molle who set up Singa, a network of successful entrepreneurs who were once refugees to inspire and support others to set up their own businesses. Or Mary Nally whose organisation, Failte Isteach, is unleashing the creativity of local indigenous communities as well as refugees by mobilising thousands of mostly older volunteers to teach migrants the language of their host countries. This is about empowerment. It is about developing tools that can turn a group so often the powerless objects of pity or disdain into ‘changemakers’: agents controlling their own fate. If Europe can adopt more of this spirit then like Daniel Kerber’s vision, the continent may become more than just a sorry shelter but rather a place for flourishing and creativity. And that will be good not just for the new arrivals but for the Europeans who already call the continent ‘home’. This article was first published on www.medium.com/@Ashoka on March 1st 2016.
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Grow Faster, Learn Faster and Adapt Fasterâ€?: Building a Collaborative Economy Robin Chase | Founder and CEO of ZipCar
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I started Zipcar in 2000, armed with three beliefs: people would be willing to share cars instead of owning them because the economics makes sense; a platform leveraging new technologies would make that sharing effortless; and people could be trusted: to pick up and drop off cars without supervision, fill up the gas with a company credit card, and take out the trash when they left. Zipcar transformed the excess capacity embedded in old inefficient ways of using cars and constructed a platform that enabled the direct participation of our members in the “co-creation” of the new efficient service. This structural triad of excess capacity, platform, peers has been adopted by hundreds (thousands?) of companies since, creating what we now call the collaborative economy. This structure, that I call Peers Inc, elevates and celebrates an asset previously under appreciated: the value of individuals to localize, customize, and specialize products and services according to their unique assets. The Peers Inc collaboration can be magical, with results that fly in the face of all established business theories, beating the ability of hierarchical and vertically integrated institutions. Peers Inc companies can scale at exponential rates because they leverage excess capacity (which doesn’t have to be sourced, financed, and built), and they invite individuals (with their diversity of locations and interests) to co-invest. The result? Airbnb offered as many rooms for rent as the largest hotel chain in the world in only four years and Wikipedia’s English edition contains 4.8 million entries. These companies can also adapt and localize at exponential speeds thanks to the localness and diverse interests of its participants. Witness Yelp and TripAdvisor’s finegrained reviews of retail in every neighborhood. And these companies learn at exponential speeds because they make use of the diversity of individual approaches, unearthing and sharing best practices and defusing worst practices. My favorite example: DuoLingo, which offers free online foreign language learning. DuoLingo makes use of the mistakes and successes of its students to hone its instruction, with the result that people learn a semester’s worth of knowledge in just 34 hours instead of 130. Since Peers Inc companies grow faster, learn faster, and adapt faster, in the future, everything that can become a platform will become one, giving rise to a business environment that works very differently — almost the opposite — to fifteen, or even ten, years ago. Where once, companies succeeded by inducing scarcity and raising barriers through patents, trademarks, copyrights, and certifications, today, the most value is created by opening assets up and maximizing the participation of individuals — to experiment, to localize, to adapt, to innovate.
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These companies can also adapt and localize at exponential speeds thanks to the localness and diverse interests of its participants. Witness Yelp and TripAdvisor’s finegrained reviews of retail in every neighborhood.
Peers Inc collaborations change the power balance between owners, consumers and participants. The product, the output of the platform, gains more value with each additional participant. Their very diversity is the source of strength. All of a sudden, we are seeing things that we never thought would be possible. Public goods and currencies can be created without the involvement of governments, community value created without the use of private capital, rules that are enforceable without a centralised force. All the while, the world suffers from the crises of climate change, sustainability, water scarcity, deforestation, housing, transportation, education, and poverty — all requiring solutions that scale, learn, and adapt quickly if we are to make meaningful change at the pace needed. The collaborative Peers Inc economy is exactly what we need to respond to these urgent problems facing our planet.
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We are right this minute rebuilding and restructuring economies with this new paradigm. This means that we have the opportunity to create the world we want to live in. IF we recognize overtly, loudly, powerfully, that the success of this paradigm comes when people are empowered and supported. Peers Inc is a “together” model. There is a unique role for governments, institutions, and individuals. Large corporations and governments have the power of “Inc,” of creating structures that protect and unleash the creativity of peers. The future of business lies in breaking down the walls between the “Inc” and the “Peers,” in enabling fluid interactions between the institutions and the innovators so that the two powerful ingredients of value creation are fused into one formidable force. Together we can engage millions of people to accomplish very big things, providing significant public benefits alongside great economic value. It’s not just the owners and creators of the platform who gain: with mindful design of the platforms, we can retain the rule-making governance and ownership within the creator communities. This is indeed a new paradigm: the future of business is about empowering people instead of empowering companies. It’s time to change the game by creating platforms and sharing power and value with the people who give them life. Together, we have the chance of being the collaborative generation that builds a new economy that doesn’t pit owners against labourers, producers and consumers. Every person can do amazing things when she gets access to the resources she needs to create something of value for society, to be a changemaker. It is sharing that enables, empowers, and unlocks value. Robin Chase is the co-founder of Zipcar, the largest car-sharing company in the world, along with three other companies Veniam, Buzzcar, and GoLoco. Her new book is Peers Inc: How People and Platforms are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism. This article was first published on huffingtonpost.com on 25th January, 2016, under the title “The Rediscovery and Valuing of People Power”, as part of the coverage of The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting. Photo credit: www.designerpics.com
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Empowering not Imposing: Why women need to lead an organisational revolution Meera Patel | Communications, Ashoka UK & Ashoka Europe
Growing up in Kumasi, Ghana, Regina Agyare was fascinated by science and technology, an obsession that made her socially conservative teachers uncomfortable. When she was eleven her father brought home a computer. Like many teenagers in the early 1990s she became obsessed with playing PacMan. Driven by this love of technology she went on to study computer science at university. Fast forward 20 years and Regina is at the forefront of a technological revolution in Ghana. Through the programme ‘Tech Needs Girls’, Agyare and her team are teaching hundreds of young women across the region to code. Agyare’s organisation, Soronko Solutions, employs many of these students to help bring local SMEs online. By equipping these girls with the tools to create their own technological platforms and apps, Soronko
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Solutions are empowering young women from deprived backgrounds to move away from being passive consumers of technology and towards shaping the development of the field themselves.
Practical Action, Real Change Given the scale of the challenge women still face at work practical, entrepreneurial solutions like Regina’s are more necessary than ever. Whilst women today are more likely than their predecessors to have attended school or university, they continue the historic trend of underrepresentation in leadership positions. When it was announced in 2015 that women now make up 23% of the board member positions in FTSE 100 companies it was lauded as “enormous progress” with little sense of irony.
Soronko Solutions’ focus on empowerment is not an isolated example. It is part of a much wider empowerment trend that is shaping markets and economies globally.
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New organisational models that empower people on a mass level could have an enormous impact by creating new economic and business structures that allow girls and women to lead, innovate and build for themselves and their communities.
In industrialised countries 75% of women are employed in what the ILO terms “low-paying, service sector jobs”. Whilst the data for industrialising countries is far less available, it is unlikely that the picture is much better. The need for a new approach to workplace gender inequality is increasingly evident. Legislation, quotas and other conventional responses to wage and leadership inequalities in the workplace have had a debateable and usually painfully slow impact. Where change has been achieved it is often at a board room level rather than for women throughout the workforce. Furthermore, where attempts to make work environments more ‘woman-friendly’ have succeeded through flexible working hours, the changes have often been of most benefit to middle class women in professional careers and rarely afforded to working class women.
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Empowering Women at Work Initiatives like Soronko Solutions are important because they bypass these conventional top-down solutions by directly empowering women to change their relationships with labour markets. Instead of fulfilling the conventional female roles as endpoint consumers or junior employees, the girls and women on Agyare’s programme own the means of production themselves. Soronko Solutions’ focus on empowerment is not an isolated example. It is part of a much wider empowerment trend that is shaping markets and economies globally. Robin Chase, the founder of ZipCar both exemplifies and understands this shift. She is the founder and CEO of the largest car-sharing platform in the world, and since 2000 when ZipCar began, she has been in a prime position to observe the challenges and the success of new empowered business models. Chase refers to ‘Peers Inc.’ a phenomenon where companies empower millions of people, to develop, deliver and diversify their products through a peer to peer model. According to Chase, these Peers Inc. companies “grow faster, learn faster, and adapt faster” She argues that “today, the most value is created by opening assets up and maximizing the participation of individuals — to experiment, to localize, to adapt, to innovate.” In essence, value is created in this new economy by empowering people to create, not simply deliver services. New organisational models that empower people on a mass level could have an enormous impact by creating new economic and business structures that allow girls and women to lead, innovate and build for themselves and their communities. These new business models are tools that can be seized by women to redefine what leadership, and even business itself, means. In short, these tools will create the organisations that are designed for the empowered women that Regina Agyare is teaching. This article was first published on www.medium.com/@Ashoka on March 8th 2016. Photo credit: Regina Agyare
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“Think Like a Toddler” The Best Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Paul Lindley | Founder and Chairman of Ella’s Kitchen
Paul Lindley is Founder and Chairman of Ella’s Kitchen, a UK based company that is a leader in organic foods for babies and toddlers. Ashoka’s Ross Hall caught up with Paul to discuss the changing business landscape and what it means for education and young people today. Ashoka: In many ways, children are at the heart of your business. What was your own childhood like and what early experiences most shaped you? Paul Lindley: I’ve lived in the UK for many years now, but I grew up in Zambia where I knew and interacted with people from a wide array of backgrounds and countries. There was also a war along our border with Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and that, coupled with South Africa’s transitions to the south, meant that I was very aware of rights issues and discrimination from an early age. Another thread was that my family led an outdoor life in which nature was very important. All these things gave me a different kind of worldview and led me to believe that we should always try to be good to each other, help improve the lives of the people around us, and care for our environment.
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Ashoka: You started Ella’s in 2006 following a stint in accounting and nearly a decade leading Nickelodeon UK. What skills do you credit with your entrepreneurial success? Lindley: I’d put passion, tenacity, and creativity at the top of the list and they are all linked. For me, passion comes from the real belief in your product or the change you are introducing, a deep trust in your customer, and the skill to make it infectious for others to join you. Tenacity is this feeling that you are not going to give up – you’re trying to create something brand new and it’s not going to be easy. So you’ve got to keep going and accept ‘no, no, no’ until you get a ‘maybe’ or, if you’re lucky, a ‘yes.’ When we were starting Ella’s, I must have made 500 phone calls to retailers in order to get a first meeting. As for creativity, entrepreneurs who are truly changemakers must be highly creative and able to look at a problem or opportunity from a completely new angle. This is summed up by something Robert Kennedy, one of my political heroes, said: “Some men see things as they are and ask ‘why?’ I see the things that never were and ask ‘why not?’” This kind of questioning sets transformative entrepreneurs apart. In fact, my daughter Ella taught me a great deal about creativity. She was little when I was starting my first company, and from her I learned that there’s nothing like the creativity of young children and their ability to interpret things in a fresh way, ask fundamental questions, and use different ways to get to a solution. I came to see that toddlers and three-, four- and five-year-olds have a way of looking at and interacting with the world that is shared by the best entrepreneurs – and at present, these are things that our education system and growing up knocks out of us. These are among the topics I’m excited to explore in a book I’m writing on how to think like a toddler. Ashoka: Interesting insight – does it factor into how you think about your company’s culture and how you hire? Lindley: Yes. My journey as an entrepreneur has shown me that business isn’t really about money – it’s about people. Your company is at essence a group of people, of human beings, who have come together because they are trying to achieve a common goal. These people are going to do some functional things that are in their job description, and they are going to do some emotional things because they are human. So the trick is to find people whose gut feeling leads them to do the right thing, to make sound judgment calls according to how they feel and not necessarily what they’ve been taught. So at Ella’s we hire for mindset, not skillset. Clearly there are requisite skills and experiences, but our interviews are really around mindset. Does this person like to think differently? Will they be good to others? Will they be business-minded? And finally, will
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they give themselves permission to be child-like? For us, this means being creative, honest, loving what you’re doing, playing with others, never giving up. It’s a state of mind that’s powerful. When your team has it and sees the journey you’re on, that’s when the business succeeds. On the flip side, bringing on someone who doesn’t fit with the mindset can actually disrupt the whole team. Ashoka: What does this mean for the changing climate of business, and its potential to increase value for society? Lindley: I strongly believe that business should be, and increasingly will be, a force for good. It will continue to create wealth, but it will do more with that wealth to relieve problems within the broader society. I believe this because a number of things have fundamentally changed, even in the span of a generation. The fact that our scarce resources are running out means that business must address society’s issues even from a purely economic standpoint. Layer onto this massive changes in technology, social media, and instant communications – it no longer matters what a brand says about itself, it matters what consumers say about a brand. So genuinely interacting with customers, conveying human-ness, and encouraging transparency and
the trick is to find people whose gut feeling leads them to do the right thing, to make sound judgment calls according to how they feel and not necessarily what they’ve been taught
feedback are all key. Finally, opportunities for companies and organizations to collaborate exist more and more, where more deals are done as win-wins rather than win-lose, where even competitors will want to work together for the greater good. Indeed, the first real step towards a radical new approach to business strategy has just come to the UK shores in the concept of Benefit (“B”) Corporations. B Corps bring a new way for business to operate that exactly fits the expectations and requirements of capitalism in the 21st century. I’m really proud that this very week Ella’s Kitchen certified as a B Corp, joining 1,600 other pioneering businesses in 43 countries and 130 industries to redefine success in business and lead business to be a better force for good in the world. In this new capitalism, we won’t be talking about work-life balance – we’ll be talking about work-life integration. We are blending values across work and society. The new generation of Millennials, and in fact all of us, expect a certain humanity to emerge in business, making it unimaginable for people to make decisions at work based on a different set of ethics than they would use while teaching their kids how to help others or say thank you. Ashoka: How does the future of work square with young people’s expectations and our priorities in education? Lindley: I started my career with the idea that I might have two or three employers across a 40-year period. Young people leaving school today expect to have 10 to 15 different work experiences across that same period – that means a change every three to four years. And what’s more, they may be entrepreneurs, self-employed, or have other arrangements. So this is a radically different environment and it requires new skills, new approaches to learning, and updated priorities in education. Right now, we focus on teaching our kids to pass their exams when in fact they need to practice navigating and contributing in a world that is increasingly defined by change. We’re working on this through an initiative I co-founded called The Key Is E that is helping to unlock Africa’s entrepreneurial talent. And here in England, schools like School 21 in East London are showing the way forward by teaching critical skills like empathy, creativity, and collaborative problem solving alongside traditional academic subjects. We need to look to these emerging models, many of them introduced by entrepreneurs who see the new reality, and translate them quickly into broad education reform. This article was first published on Forbes.com on 24th February 2016. Photo credit: Ella’s Kitchen.
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Quality, Supply and Demand in Education Ross Hall | Director of Education, Ashoka Europe
The Problem of Quality Increasing access to and attendance at school remains a major issue within many countries and populations. Even as access has increased for many, there is growing recognition that the quality of schooling (the quality of the experience of school that produces outcomes) is a massive problem that is proving very difficult to address at scale, and increasingly urgent. The outcomes we are typically achieving and often aiming for in schools are, for many, increasingly insufficient. For the majority of young people today, the experience of school is failing to equip them properly to succeed in the new world of work: to thrive in an increasingly volatile and complex world and to change the world for the common good.
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To nurture young changemakers, we need to re-focus our attention and effort in schools - and this requires the willingness and leadership of those who work and live in them. Ashoka’s Mission Our mission at Ashoka is to trigger the transformation of education systems so that everyone is provided with quality educational experiences that are explicitly designed to equip and incline them to thrive in the modern world, and to change the world for the good of all. We call the kind of person who is equipped and inclined in this way a changemaker.
The Relevance Of The Ecosystem To catalyse such a significant transformation, we believe that schools, teachers and young people must be active in leading change. From early childhood and into adulthood, schools are the places in which we make our most systematic attempts to shape the human mind. To nurture young changemakers, we need to re-focus our attention and effort in schools — and this requires the willingness and leadership of those who work and live in them.
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But a young personâ€™s experience in school is influenced heavily by people beyond the walls of the school. Moreover, a young personâ€™s experience beforeand outside of school is also hugely influential on their development. Therefore, it will be important for schools, non-formal education providersand other key actors from across the ecosystem to participate in leading change. With this in mind, we are selecting, connecting and organising teams of pioneering schools, teachers, young people, parents, teaching unions, teacher training institutions, universities, policy makers, businesses and social entrepreneurs which will lead strategic initiatives to trigger rapidly self-multiplying changes that ultimately tip the practice and experience of education for everyone.
Supply And Demand Central to this approach is the idea that in order to change the practice of education, we first of all need to change mindsets across the ecosystem. Put another way, we need to change demand across the ecosystem. It is insufficient to increase the supply of quality educational provision alone. We need parents, young people and teachers to demand quality education (where quality means effectively equipping and inclining young people to act for our collective wellbeing). We need universities and employers to demand changemakers. We need policy makers, teacher training institutions, teaching unions and others from across the ecosystem to want this quality of education provision. Changing demand across the ecosystem must, therefore, be an essential objective of the teams we are organising. But changing demand is a complex process that will involve changing mindsets about the purpose of education, the reality of the world today and of the world to come. It will involve changing minds about which learning objectives and experiences we will prioritise. It will also involve changing our minds about roles, responsibilities, incentives and disincentives in the education system. To help teams trigger systematic changes, we need to understand better the nature of changing demand, we need to find practices that are proven to be effective at changing demand, and we need to share these practices effectively. This article was first published on www.medium.com/@AshokaUK on 23rd November 2016. Photo credit: Matthew Moss High School
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Uncertainty and the Rise of the Entrepreneurial Career Path Michela Fenech | Ashoka Globalizer
“No career is a sure thing anymore. The uncertain, rapidly changing conditions in which entrepreneurs start companies is what it’s now like for all of us fashioning a career. Therefore, you should approach career strategy the same way an entrepreneur approaches starting a business.” - Thomas Friedman, LinkedIn Founder The world today is shaped by complexity, uncertainty and hyper-paced change. A rapidly increasing and connected global population is straining the environment, creating enormous cultural pressures, and changing the economic landscape. In this challenging environment, “the capacity for new thinking or turning old ideas into new applications has never been more important” according to Ken Robinson. It is proving truer than ever that the same entrepreneurial creativity, drive and initiative needed to start a business are also required to find and keep the right job. The fact that youth unemployment is growing in uncomfortable proportions, would suggest that young people are not being supported to develop these skills. Instead, the gap between what our societies and economies demand and what schools provide seems to keep widening.
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738,000 youth in the UK are unable to find jobs, making youth unemployment the worst it has been in the past 20 years. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 600 million people are under 25, around 20 per cent of whom do not have access to quality and reliable economic opportunities. Nigeria is third on the world poverty Index. Out of a population of 178 million, 80 per cent of youth are unemployed. Many remain idle and frustrated with little hope of securing work, forced to resort to illegitimate activities to ensure an income, which then further aggravates the social and economic challenges within Nigeria. From London to Abuja, youth unemployment is seen by many as an increasingly â€˜global pandemicâ€™, however it still needs to be understood within its country-specific socioeconomic context. When considering that by 2040, 50 per cent of the worldâ€™s youth will be African. The way African communities address this challenge can shape the future in unprecedented ways.
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Children today are growing up to face an accelerating stream of new situations, novel challenges and fleeting opportunities. They need to develop the skills of a changemaker in order to navigate our new world, to fit and to thrive.
Ashoka Fellow Esther Eshiet believes that “young people can contribute to Africa’s development through entrepreneurship”. In order to overcome social and economic inequalities, African youth need to learn to be creative problem-solvers that can find innovative ways of bringing value to the labour market, while creating a demand for their skills. While investing in education is essential, it is no longer enough to simply teach through delivering content to young people. The traditional focus on rote learning, academic achievement and specialisation in one field is not ‘fit for purpose’. Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills at the OECD, identifies that education institutions need to cultivate within young people, “a kind of compass and the navigation skills” to help them determine what skills and direction they need, not to learn for, but to create their own jobs and careers. Through her organisation, the Afterschool Centre for Career Development (ACCD), Esther looks to expand the focus of young Nigerians beyond academic credentials.
She inspires and engages them in solving their own unemployment challenges, and supports them in finding opportunities to do so. She works to foster self-awareness and career consciousness by counselling, training and providing growth opportunities for young people to prepare them for the world of work as they tackle this transitional phase of their lives. Through ACCD’s PathFinder programme, Esther works with secondary school children to develop confidence, self-awareness and core skills like creativity, problem solving and entrepreneurship. This strengthens their capabilities to make informed decisions to shape their education and life choices, keeping them engaged in their education. Many young Nigerians spend two to four years at home between school and university as a result of limited space, and a long, difficult (and often corrupt) admissions process. As education is exclusively paid for in Nigeria, many families also need time to save up to afford it. ACCD has developed a transitional intervention programme (The PreTertiary Programme) to support school leavers with the tools and services they need to acquire entrepreneurial skills and experiences during this time that will support them in becoming active participants in their society and economy. Once in university, ACCD exposes undergraduates to apprenticeships, voluntary placements, and other prospects that continue to build the entrepreneurial experiences and skills needed for young people to activate or create their career path. Their Afterschool Hub then crowd-sources these opportunities and extends ACCD’s reach across Africa. Children today are growing up to face an accelerating stream of new situations, novel challenges and fleeting opportunities. They need to develop the skills of a changemaker in order to navigate our new world, to fit and to thrive. Esther is building a movement to inspire and support young people to take charge of their job creation – through entrenching a new norm that prepares young people for changes in their lives. Esther and her team are working to nurture a society that can shape and create their own positive change. This article was first published on virgin.com under the title “How can we support local young people to solve global challenges?” on 11th January 2016. Photo credit: Eshter Eshiet / ACCD
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What Social Entrepreneurs Can Teach The Private Sector About Commercial Success Rob Wilson | Director Ashoka UK
Google is only the most recent firm to be criticised for not paying enough tax. This story reminds us that companies are now expected (by politicians, customers and, above all, employees) to demonstrate their social value to the societies in which they operate. Merely creating jobs and making profits â€“ which may be banked in another country â€“ is no longer enough. Private sector executives often struggle to understand how to respond to these demands, given that they are complying with the law and (in their view) can hardly be expected to pay more than legally required. But it comes down to a wider issue of balancing their right to make money with their responsibility towards those they are making it from.
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New ways of doing business Finding ways to demonstrate that responsibility goes well beyond the issue of tax – it requires that firms think about new ways of doing business. The organisation that I run in the UK, Ashoka, has some ideas about how they might go about doing that. For 35 years Ashoka has pioneered the concept of social entrepreneurs – individuals innovating to solve societal problems. Our founder, Bill Drayton, coined the term and began a global search for extraordinary people dedicated to changing the world. To date, we have elected 3,300 Ashoka fellows in 88 countries, including two Nobel Peace Prize winners, and we calculate that half of our fellows have changed national laws and policies within three years of their election.
Changemaker values But in recent years we have gone further, trying to encourage schools and colleges around the world to teach what we call “changemaker values”: the ability to thrive as an individual and make a positive contribution to society in an increasingly fast moving world. We recognise that fundamental skills such as empathy, entrepreneurship, teamwork and leadership are as essential in today’s world as secondary school level literacy and numeracy. If there was more empathy in the boardroom our society might look very different. We have therefore deepened our relationship with business. Ashoka has never shied away from the private sector – indeed many of our fellows have embraced the market to make changes to their societies, often developing commercial businesses to support their ‘not for profit’ endeavours. Over the years we have also been supported by a host of extraordinary companies and successful individuals.
Positive change But now we are trying to help build a world in which businesses grow because they have placed social impact at their core – from the supply chain to their interactions with consumers. We believe that commercial companies can facilitate positive change in areas beyond the reach of public policy makers and the third sector, and that (just as importantly) they can make money from doing so. We see a virtuous circle in which firms are financially rewarded for doing the right thing by society. As Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever and a longtime supporter of Ashoka, puts it: “If we focus our company on improving the lives of the world’s citizens and come up with genuine sustainable solutions, we are more in sync with consumers and society, and ultimately this will result in good shareholder returns”.
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We believe that commercial companies can facilitate positive change in areas beyond the reach of public policy makers and the third sector, and that (just as importantly) they can make money from doing so. We see a virtuous circle in which firms are financially rewarded for doing the right thing by society.
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Many of Unilever’s household products require consumers to have clean running water, or freezers and reliable electricity at home for their ice cream. It is therefore in the interests of Unilever to help consumers access these essential services because ultimately they will sell more products. Several partners over the years have helped us build a widening network of supportive businesses, including the law firm Hogan Lovells, and we have now agreed a three-year, wide-ranging financial and pro bono package of support with the communications company Freuds. They are explicitly backing us because they believe that all organisations need a purpose beyond profit, and that enlightened self-interest means that helping to change society for the better is the route to commercial success. Freuds is supporting a number of our fellows. Over the past few weeks, they have helped Tristram Stuart – whose organisation Feedback campaigns to end food waste in the system – to launch his new beer brand, Toast. This is rather unusual beer because it’s brewed from wasted bread collected from bakeries and sandwich firms. Toast has the backing of Jamie Oliver and I can personally attest that the product passes the taste test. However, Tristram understands that if he’s going to make fundamental changes to the system he not only needs a great idea, but also a commercially viable concept. Maximising publicity is also vital.
Learning from social entrepreneurs We believe that organisations we work with have learnt from their partnership with social entrepreneurs. Companies need to become more innovative to survive as the commercial pace of change accelerates. Social entrepreneurs can help them learn these skills. Of course, there are limitations to all this. Some firms are still more self-interested than enlightened. Others would like to make changes but the short-term demands of the stock market limit their freedom for manoeuvre. But the basic principle with which we approach the private sector – that firms are now expected to demonstrate their social value to the societies in which they operate – seems more obvious by the day. Social entrepreneurs are well placed to help companies adapt to their new world. Those that fail to do so will not thrive (or even survive) in the long term. This article was first published on wearesalt.org on 24th February 2016.
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Using creativity and collaboration to inspire young people to be changemakers Ellen Goodman | Communications Ashoka UK
The Spinney Primary School, located in a village to the south of the City of Cambridge, is a small school with a big heart and big ambitions to improve outcomes for young people, not only in their own school but far beyond too. Elected an Ashoka Changemaker School in 2015, the schoolâ€™s focus on the power of the individual, and the power of collaboration, is demonstrating how positive partnerships can lead to new synergies that are a force for collective good. The Spinney is a National Teaching School that champions the important role that arts, creativity and culture play in developing future proof, changemaker skills, such as communication, imagination, compassion and collaboration.
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“I am passionate about the importance of Arts and Culture in education as a way to ensure children achieve highly not just in creative subjects, but also intellectually and academically,” explains the Spinney’s head teacher, Rachel Snape. “I absolutely believe in the power of arts, creativity and culture to transform children’s lives, and I want as many children as possible to have access to creative opportunities.” Two years ago The Spinney initiated the idea of a co-constructed, county-wide “Big Read & Write” - a brilliant collaboration between Cambridge Literary Festival, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Kite Teaching School Alliance, of which the Spinney is the lead school. Held earlier this month, this year’s Big Read & Write brought together more than 400 Year Five pupils from 11 schools across Cambridgeshire to Lady Mitchell Hall to hear award winning children’s author Chris Priestley describe his career as a writer, and to inspire the children to participate in an exciting story writing competition. In order to ensure that no school was left behind and that as many children as possible were able to participate in the event, The Big Read & Write was also live-streamed simultaneously to primary schools all across the county.
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The Big Read & Write is part of a bigger project again devised by the Spinney called ‘My Cambridge’ in partnership with the City Council, The County Council, Cambridge Arts and Culture Leaders, and Norfolk and Norwich Festival Bridge. My Cambridge is a cultural educational partnership which aims to increase visibility of and access to high quality artistic, cultural and creative experiences for young people. It empowers young people to take the lead in developing their cultural lives, and to develop future-proof, sustainable life skills. Through its thoughtful provision, which includes a wonderful Wild Wood, and the school’s “local/global” creative and connected curriculum that educates the whole child, The Spinney encourages its pupils to use their creativity and imagination to be positive change makers. Pupils at the school recently completed a ‘Changemakers Project’, in collaboration with postgraduate student Elena Natale, where they explored how their actions as individuals have huge potential to impact on the world around them. “We wanted to spread a message to adults that small actions makes ripples, and these ripples can make a big wave of change around the world and stop the bad and wrong things that we’re doing,” said one Year Six student, explaining the project. “We want to stop people fighting with each other and work together using team work and collaboration. Fighting and arguing is pointless and does lots of internal and external damage,” said a Year Four pupil. Pupils at the school have regular opportunities to put their changemaking skills into action. Recently the Spinney children wanted to do something to help other young people in less fortunate positions than themselves and decided to fundraise for Street Child United, a global charity that advocates for the rights of street children using the power of sports and the arts. The pupils rose over £500 for the charity through fundraising activities such as sponsored silences and bake sales. Through collaboration and creativity, the Spinney is inspiring and empowering young children far beyond their school to be change-makers and to approach life as creative problem-solvers. They are advocating the power of young people to make a difference – as one Year Five pupil said: “If your children have an idea, listen to them. You never know, one day it might change the world!” This article was first published on Virgin.com on 21st March 2016. Photo credit: The Spinney Primary School
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Through collaboration and creativity, the Spinney is inspiring and empowering young children far beyond their school to be change-makers and to approach life as creative problem-solvers.
Why community sports clubs are the key to tackling youth unemployment Ellen Goodman | Communications Ashoka UK
Leaving school aged 18, Joe Turner found his future cast into doubt – he had not been accepted into university and was struggling to find a different path to take. He risked becoming one of 848,000 young people in the UK Not in Education, Employment or Training - commonly referred to as ‘NEETs’. This problem of disengaged youth is one that expands far beyond the UK: in Spain, Greece, Croatia and Italy almost half of people aged under 25 are unemployed. Africa’s youth unemployment problem has been the subject of much debate in recent years, and in America – despite unemployment levels being at their lowest since 2008 – for young adults aged 20 to 24 unemployment continues to rise. In 2011, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) warned of a “scarred generation” of young people across the global facing a “dangerous mix of high unemployment, increase inactivity and precarious work in developed countries, as well as persistently high working poverty in the developing world.”
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Joe had no Plan B outside of university, and he faced an uncertain future. He had always had a passion for hockey, but had never considered it to be a career option until he was offered a six month contract working with Hockey Wales in conjunction with Vi-Ability. With this opportunity, he learnt a variety of new skills from administration to organising international events, and at the end of his placement he was offered a new contract in the position of Business Support Officer. Using sports as a vessel for social change and a tool to engage disaffected or ignored populations, when done right, can have a huge impact â€“ as many organisations such as The Homeless World Cup and Skateistan demonstrate. Vi-Abilityâ€™s approach differs from other social enterprises, however, by focusing on the business side of sport. The idea of Vi-Ability first came to its founder, Ashoka Fellow and former Welsh international football player Kelly Davies, when she was studying for an MBA in football industry.
The huge number of young people not in education or employment need opportunities to gain employment, they need learning programmes that give them encouragement and guidance, and that meet their needs and aspirations.
She realised that the key to tackling one of modern society’s biggest issues – youth unemployment – could be found in another prevalent issue facing communities worldwide: the loss of sports clubs through poor financial management. “I identified a rising number of sports clubs were going into administration, or being threatened by it, and they needed a more professional approach, they needed to know how to generate income and how to engage with the community, which was their fan base,” Kelly explains. “The huge number of young people not in education or employment need opportunities to gain employment, they need learning programmes that give them encouragement and guidance, and that meet their needs and aspirations.” To tackle these two issues, Vi-Ability is affecting three systemic changes across society: firstly, it is challenging how disengaged young people – or ‘NEETs’ – are viewed by society by showing them as an asset, not a hindrance. It provides learning programmes to help young people from a wide range of backgrounds to become entrepreneurs – from recent graduates struggling to stand out in the difficult job climate, to ex-professional sportspeople unsure of their next career move, to those who struggled to find their place in traditional education systems. Secondly, Vi-Ability is educating sports clubs to run like a business and make well-thought out financial decisions that will benefit the club and, crucially, their communities. Finally, they are demonstrating that sport can be a cost-effective tool to address political agendas such as unemployment and health. Vi-Ability is empowering the next generation of changemakers through transformative, hands-on experiences of running sports clubs where participants become the leaders and drivers of change. By giving ownership of the work to the young people on the training courses, Vi-Ability is ensuring a pattern of sustainable community development. For Vi-Ability, success is a sports club becoming a financially stable, thriving community hub and centre of learning where young people could come and develop key life and employability skills, and, importantly, develop their horizons. “I want to inspire the young people who participate in our programmes to go from affecting a community of 300, to affecting one of three million,” says Kelly. “We’re going to take over the world!” This article was first published on virgin.com on 14th December 2015. Photo credit: Kelly Davies / Vi-Ability
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The Ashoka Journal is a selection of recent content from around the Ashoka network.