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NEW SOLUTIONS FOR EMPLOYMENT AND RECOVERY CREATING EVERYONE A CHANGEMAKER ECOSYSTEMS IN SOUTHERN EUROPE With additional support from: Fundación Botín, Fundación Uría, Fundación Accenture, Fundación ONCE and The Hellenic Initiative

With the support of the Robert Bosch Stiftung









CREATING AN ECOSYSTEM FOR CHANGEMAKERS: THE CHALLENGES10 1. Inadequate support for entrepreneurship 


2. Underdevelopment of skills for a new labour market 


3. Challenges in building financially sustainable and market-based social innovations


4. Scarce opportunities for disadvantaged groups


5. Shortage or mismatch of talent12



2. Help Changemakers become Entrepreneurs


3. Recognize successful entrepreneurs and establish entrepreneurship as a viable and sustainable professional path 


4. Give Entrepreneurs solutions to access capital 


5. Combine social impact with financial sustainability


6. Develop skills and match the right person to the job18

APPENDIX ABOUT ASHOKA Prepared by Claudia Garuti, Felix Oldenburg, Annelies Storme


WHAT A CHANGEMAKING ECOSYSTEM CAN ACHIEVE... IT SAVES US PUBLIC MONEY...1 In France, the work of 10 Ashoka Fellows alone generates accumulated earnings of € 50 million for the public. Each worker employed by Arnaud Castagnède’s Actavista represents a yearly saving of € 8,000. By reaching its potential with 5,000 employees, Actavista could save € 45 million in public spending. Danielle Desguées’ Boutique de Gestions supports 168 companies every year that would otherwise disappear. This represents a public saving of € 2.4 million. By extending her methodology, 32,000 companies could survive, achieving a saving of € 182 million.

CHANGEMAKERS MULTIPLY... In Germany, 39 per cent of the workforce would not want to work in a job that is not meaningful. 37 per cent would consider moving to a job in the social sector.3 Launched in 2012, Change Nation brought 50 social innovations to Ireland to build a culture of changemaking and social transformation. Thirty-five of the 50 solutions are now being implemented thanks to powerful teams of local changemakers. Ireland now has an estimated 175,000 Changemakers, representing 5 per cent of all adults.

1 Etude d’impact del'entrepreneuriat social – McKinsey & Company, France 2012


3 Careers for Changemakers – Ashoka Germany, 2013

More than 16 per cent of the population live below the poverty line in Europe, without access to basic services and products. The estimated market for these untapped expenses is 221 billion euros in seven countries alone. For example:



Through the work of one social entrepreneur only in Germany:

The housing market for vulnerable populations is estimated to be worth € 124 billion.

63 MILLION PEOPLE ARE AT RISK OF FINANCIAL EXCLUSION. The financial market for vulnerable populations is estimated at € 12 billion.

Over 10,000 young people have been engaged, with more than 1.500 jobs created. More than 1,200 businesses have been set up. Over 70 per cent of these companies have survived for more than three years.


2  Business & Impact: Inventing new models at the crossroads of the social, business and public sectors to address societal challenges – Ashoka and Accenture, France 2013

4 Norbert Kunz, IQ Consult– Impact report Germany 2012

PUTTING THE ‘I’ INTO INNOVATION It doesn’t take a historian to realize that socio-economic change is accelerating at an ever-increasing pace. Entire industries are disappearing as new sectors emerge, and new work models are taking the place of life-long careers. Innovation may be the watchword in this process, but for a whole generation of young people in Southern Europe the many changes that have taken place in their short lifetimes have left them without a workable model for their economic future. It is easy to become lost in the maze of competing explanations for economic success and failure and differing attributions of political and business responsibility. There is one source of action that is often overlooked in such explanations, however, and that is the individual. For every big picture consists of millions of individual realities, and every once in a while an individual turns up and challenges the status quo. Often this is an individual from an unlikely background and with an unusual perspective on a problem—someone trying out something new for the good of all those around them. “I can do something about this problem!” they say, and they act upon this conviction. When these changemakers create organisations and movements beyond the confines of their own problem they emerge as social entrepreneurs. Over recent decades we have come to an increasingly better understanding and appreciation of the key role such entrepreneurs play through their innovativeness, resilience, and, ultimately, their competitiveness. The many examples in this document illustrate some of the major achievements of citizen-led ideas that could help create an ecosystem for social entrepreneurship and employment in Southern Europe. In a globalized world, after all, there is no reason why social innovations shouldn’t travel as quickly as business innovations.

The work of social entrepreneurs may not always immediately generate large-scale employment opportunities, but such inno­ vators do solve many of the problems resulting from economic crises and they do create growth and employment. Moreover, the promotion of a more economically independent citizen sector is itself a key factor for growth. Perhaps even more im­ portantly, social entrepreneurs inspire others to say, “I can do it!”—encouraging them to become changemakers themselves, driving innovation and making change work for them and not against them. This document providing examples of the successful impact of entrepreneurial actions is only a first step in this project. Together with an unprecedented international alliance of foundations and social entrepreneurs, we would like to bring many innovators to Southern Europe to kickstart the emergence of a support system for citizens who want to take charge of their own futures. If the success of social entrepreneurship in the rest of Europe and elsewhere in the world is any indication, citizen changemakers will redefine many of the challenges we face and contribute towards turning what currently appear as vicious cycles into virtuous cycles, one individual reality by another.









* NEET: not employed, educated, or in training.












Social entrepreneurs help us to see the crisis in Southern Europe in a different way. Through their work they identify the barriers preventing individuals from contributing actively to citizen-led change. Within the complex downward spiral of interwoven social, political and economic issues, social entrepreneurs indicate five main barriers to generating employment opportunities. These are obstacles that can be challenged and overcome. Removing these barriers will foster change and open the way for creating new employment opportunities.


This has resulted in a failure to realize the full potential of entrepreneurship to serve as a key engine of growth and social change and to empower large numbers of people to infuse positive and constructive energy into new ventures and new ideas.

2. UNDERDEVELOPMENT OF SKILLS FOR A NEW LABOUR MARKET: As Europe undergoes further transformation, the labour market is in need of more people with entrepreneurial and changemaking skills and of an environment that facilitates and supports their efforts. With rising national debt, reduced public spending, and negative growth rates, Southern Europe’s turbulent times seem far from being over. Despite many efforts, recovery has been too slow to reverse the current economic crisis. Countries like Greece, Italy and Spain appear to be stuck in a downward spiral. The public continue to live in a period of uncertainty. Economic output is too low to generate opportunities on a major scale, and forced reductions in public spending are resulting in significant cuts to social welfare budgets. The most dramatic consequence of this crisis is high and ever-increasing unemployment—a dire price now being paid by almost 27 million people across Europe. Shockingly, some 22 per cent of Europeans under the age of twenty-five are currently unemployed. In Southern Europe the figures for youth unemployment are even higher and joblessness amongst the young is becoming the norm, with 58.4% of young people out of work in Greece, 55.7 % in Spain, and 37.8% Italy. 5 Unemployment is not only having a negative effect on the European economy, it is also increasing the risk of widespread social exclusion as all those individuals without work are finding it harder and harder to define their roles, to engage with their communities and to support their families. Lost Income, Lost Friends and Loss of Self-Respect6 is a title that aptly describes the situation of almost five per cent of the workforce, referring to those individuals who have been out of work for more than a year and are losing their confidence and their support networks as well as the skills they will need to explore different career paths and to compete with their peers once new opportunities arise. The high level of youth unemployment puts Europe at risk of losing an entire generation, with more than 14 million young people falling in the category of NEET—i.e., not employed, educated, or in training. Change is needed alongside new perspectives on how to tackle this downward spiral and how to inspire individuals with the confidence to become agents of change.

5 Eurostat, Unemployment Statistics, 2013 6 Lost Income, Lost Friends – and Loss of Self-Respect, Pew Research, 2010



Social entrepreneurs see how the gap between the business, public and social sectors has made it harder for social enterprises and for businesses to tap into existing market opportunities to create long-term employment opportunities and incorporate social impact across business-value chains.


A range of barriers makes it difficult for the labour market to become inclusive and welcoming of the long-term unemployed, immigrants, and people with disabilities, resulting in growing social needs, but also creating a missed opportunity for employers to build a workforce with diverse skills, perspectives and insights.


While unemployment rises in Europe, vacancies remain un­ filled as employers struggle to find appropriate candidates with the right skills. The public and private sectors are not innovating their recruitment practices quickly enough to find and match people with diverse skills to the needs of the many vacant job positions in the current labour market.


Social entrepreneurs trigger an ‘upward spiral’ by identifying and removing the main barriers to employment and launching powerful solutions to drive systemic change throughout society. They begin by identifying the main drivers of change—those factors and focus areas that need to be addressed and leveraged so as to achieve an impact and solve pressing social issues. They then develop innovative solutions that can trigger one or more of these drivers in order to achieve the desired change in the lives of the communities or groups with whom they are working. Social entrepreneurs identify six distinct drivers of change, which can help guide a new approach to employment in Southern Europe. Their innovations trigger these drivers under a single vision of an ecosystem of changemakers—a system with increased public engagement and in which individuals determine their own roles as active participants in the social and economic life of their countries.


From education to employment, social entrepreneurs are empowering more and more people to become changemakers— problem-solvers with the creativity, initiative, teamwork skills and empathy to take decisions about their paths and gain access to existing opportunities.


New infrastructures are created to enhance capacity-building, supporting ecosystems and professional networks to allow more changemakers to turn their ideas in successful ventures.


New models are establishing and promoting entrepreneurship as a respected and viable profession and are equipping entrepreneurs with the needed self-confidence and recognition.


New strategies are combining diverse sources of funding into a new offer to support entrepreneurs to further advance their ventures through access to capital.


Social entrepreneurs establish powerful synergies across sectors, leading the way by proving that collaboration can be the key to achieving greater impact on a greater scale.


By changing perceptions and responding to the current needs of the labour market, new skills are developed and new solutions are found to bridge the gap between employers and potential employees.





Entrepreneurship is one of the key driving forces of the European economy. Small to medium-sized businesses provide two of every three jobs in the private sector,7 making entrepreneurs the backbone of economic, social and innovative development. The role of entrepreneurship in building a dynamic society that encourages growth and social change is becoming increasingly crucial as the global economy becomes more uncertain and complex. Despite the vital role played by entrepreneurs, many European countries have continued to concentrate their policies and efforts in employment and education on preparing people for supposedly more secure career paths within corporations and the public sector. This outdated focus has encouraged a prevalent perception of entrepreneurship and selfemployment as a risky and undesirable career path. When starting up new ventures, entrepreneurs face a wide range of obstacles. These include the challenge of building up sufficient capacity and the need to overcome structural barriers to accessing finance and gaining legal status. No adequate support is provided for entrepreneurs in developing the necessary skills and gathering insights and knowledge from peers and mentors. These factors not only hold back entrepreneurs from developing the confidence, skills and means to turn their ideas into actions, but also prevent them from progressing across the lifecycles of their ventures and increasing their chances of running financially sustainable ventures that can continue to provide employment and generate value for the communities in which they operate.




Market forces and economic trends are changing at an ever-increasing rate, provoking major shifts in employment patterns, with some jobs and skills becoming obsolete while growing demand arises for new attitudes and new career paths. In order for people to adapt successfully to these changes, they need to develop entrepreneurial and changemaking skills. Additionally, younger generations and new entrepreneurs often anticipate new fields and new market demands, and they need room to test and accelerate their new ideas and lead the way for the rest of the economy. Being entrepreneurial is not just about creating new businesses. The changemaking skills and attitudes of entrepreneurs—their creativity, communication skills, their spirit of initiative and problem-solving skills—are becoming essential for individuals to tap into and develop existing opportunities, to become responsible for their own role and actions and to contribute to their environment by solving challenges and finding meaningful solutions. Current education systems fail to equip individuals, from school pupils to elder workers, with skills and attitudes they need to succeed in the modern labour market. Traditional methods of repetition and memorization prevail in European education systems and do not encourage or help individuals, especially young people, to develop the self-esteem and creative attitudes they need to learn new concepts, solve problems, take initiative, communicate ideas and work with others—skills they need not only to succeed in the changing labour market, drive a new economy, but also to participate fully in society.

7 Fact and figures about the EU´s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), European Commission, 2013






Many different approaches from many different angles have proved to create employment opportunities in various sectors, especially for more vulnerable groups in the population. Despite the results arising from these efforts, existing solutions are often insufficiently scalable to address social challenges from a long-term perspective. The inefficiency of these solutions can be put down in large part to the lack of collaboration amongst different sectors. On the one hand, job insertion enterprises have been created by the social sector through government support and subsidies to integrate long-term unemployed and socially excluded individuals into the labour market. Reliance on state or philanthropic intervention, however, has prevented these enterprises from developing market-based models with the ability to gain economic sustainability and thereby transfer employees into long-term employment opportunities. On the other hand, whilst the business sector has the potential to provide long-term employment opportunities, corporations are often too driven by shortterm economic objectives to integrate social impact priorities across their value chains. This gap between sectors frequently results in missed opportunities—opportunities to create both economic and social value by achieving more sustainable and scalable solutions that tap into existing and emerging markets. Leveraging the strengths of a range of different players will allow social entrepreneurs, corporations and governments to create win-win situations by, for example, sustaining and developing declining sectors like agriculture, or by investing in new high growth sectors such as housing, recycling and health. Working together, these players can help shape new markets and support the creation of sustainable jobs by turning problems into markets.




The labour market still lacks the capacity, flexibility and openness to include and respond to the specific needs of certain large groups in society. Excluded from employment opportunities, these groups are at risk of long-term social and economic exclusion. Immigrants and refugees are often unable to participate in society because their lack of knowledge of local systems, language and role models within their communities means they find it very hard to gain long-term employment. People living with disabilities are twenty per cent more likely to be unemployed because of the false perception that different abilities can be more costly and generate less value. As the European population grows older, the valuable experience and skills of the more experienced population are not only undervalued but also kept at a distance, pushing elder individuals into financial and social exclusion towards the end of their careers. Nor are flexible schedules enabling parents to combine a fulfilling career with family life as deeply entrenched in society as one might hope. All these cases show how the labour market lacks the flexibility to recognize that different groups bring different skills and that their contributions would add to rather than reduce social and economic value in all sectors. Prejudices in the labour market thus prevent progress towards equal and fair opportunities. For employers this also represents a missed opportunity for diversifying and making their workforce more reflective of the social landscape and social trends and of allowing diversity to become a source of innovation in the workplace.




Despite high levels of unemployment, almost two million jobs8 in Europe are not filled and 26 per cent9 of employers experience difficulties matching jobs with the right technical and changemaking skills. Talent and skills are fundamental in helping businesses achieve their goals, making these qualities the driving force behind success and growth. Rapid economic shifts and emerging new trends and sectors demand new sets of skills and competencies, in turn requiring new ways of identifying, recruiting and developing talent on a longterm basis. The existing gap between skills and jobs stems from an outdated education system in which students are not exposed to the private and public sector, leading them to make career choices that are not influenced by current opportunities and demands for talent. Often students also have a limited ability to select, change or tailor their field of studies based on their interests or the rapidly changing economic context. Companies are in need of new and innovative methods of recruitment that can inform, develop and recruit the talent they actually need. And despite the ever-growing focus on skills, the labour market has not advanced in line with current shifts, making it hard for companies to keep up with skills development and the new recruiting mechanisms needed to match the right candidates with the right jobs.


8 1.85 Million Unfulfilled Vacancies, New Europe, March 2013 9 Talent Shortage Survey, Manpower, 2013





In today’s rapidly evolving world, companies need changemakers—problem-solvers who have the initiative and the skills in leadership, teamwork, creativity and empathy to bring about positive change. These changemaking skills need to be integrated in new and existing education and recruitment programmes. Proven solutions develop such skills at the same time as building the self-esteem and confidence that individuals need to determine their own paths and gain access to existing opportunities. Such programmes emphasize the strengths rather than the weaknesses of each participant and connect their skills and abilities to real-life opportunities. Changemaking skills empower individuals to turn intentions and interests into the resources they need to take the initiative to engage, removing the barriers that have excluded them from participating in society and gaining access to employment opportunities.

Johannes Lindner from Austria believes that entrepreneurial skills are essential to educate independent young people and create active citizens. Lindner has compiled a comprehensive set of innovative teaching materials now integrated in school curricula for all grades, including handbooks, exercise books, case studies, and CDs for teachers and students, as well as business plan competitions that encourage young people to combine their entrepreneurial thinking with self-driven actions. The fact that debate is built into the social entrepreneurship curriculum ensures that students will not simply be socially entrepreneurial but will have the communication skills needed to drive the dissemination of their ideas. Over the last 15 years, Marie Trellu-Kane from France has designed a model to make citizen engagement a normal step in young peoples’ lives and has thus created the infrastructure to help them become social changemakers. Convinced that each individual has a role to play in solving social and environmental issues, she has removed financial and cultural barriers by designing and implementing a highly valued volunteer

civic service across France. Marie has thus successfully created all the conditions to further youth citizenship and promote youth social entrepreneurship. Benefiting from a large database of committed youth, a powerful support from public and private partners, and a national recognition, she now aims at empowering young people not only understand and participate in social issues but also create their own solutions by starting their own social ventures. Rebecca Onie in the USA is building a movement to break the link between poverty and poor health by mobilizing university student volunteers to provide sustained public health interventions in partnership with urban medical centres, universities, and community organizations. Through her organization Health Leads, students serve as volunteer advocates who help patients find the health, food, job training, and utilities or childcare subsidies they need. Many students choose to follow a career path in a related field based on this experience. In 2012, 88% of the program graduates that entered jobs or graduate study in the fields of health or poverty (90% of program graduates) reported that Health Leads had a “high” or “very high” impact on their post-graduate plans. Since 2010, her organization, Health Leads, has served over 23,000 patients, and 7,000 Health Leads alumni work in and around the healthcare system.

Modelled on the way in which we source and select Ashoka Fellows, Ashoka is now building a leading network of Changemaker Schools. These schools prioritize the culti­ vation of empathy, teamwork, leadership and changemaking skills among students. Each Changemaker School has a committed change team composed of teachers, parents, students and staff focused on advancing the goal of making ‘everyone a changemaker’ within each school, as well as partnering with Ashoka to influence others in the field towards achieving this goal. The Ashoka U Changemaker Campus consortium is a dynamic, global network of leading colleges and universities committed to advancing social innovation in their campus and beyond. From admissions and curricula to career services and alumni engagement, these campuses set the bar for Ashoka’s global network of 170 colleges and universities.




Successful businesses need to be well managed and many start-up entrepreneurs need help. Management advice on the design of business ideas, the preparation of business plans and the gaining of access to capital is invaluable. Individual counselling on the design and specification of entrepreneurs’ business ideas can significantly reduce rates of business failure. Moreover, if counselling is conducted in community groups within an alliance of entrepreneurs, the peer support element is an added value. Physical co-working spaces where people can experiment, collaborate, communicate and exchange with other community members foster creativity and encouragement.

With peer entrepreneurs, Danielle Desguées from France invented the profession of Entrepreneurship Advisors (EAs) and opened her first Management Shop (RBG) in Paris in 1979. These management shops are open boutiques where entrepreneurs can ‘shop’ for management advice. The RBGs and EAs assist at every stage in the entrepreneur’s lifecycle, including individual counselling, design and specification of the entrepreneur’s business idea, business planning and viability strategy, as well as access to capital and counselling during the first months of launch. Through the Entrepreneurs Alliance, Rodrigo Brito from Brazil provides infrastructure and services to existing and promising businesses, as well as low-income community groups developing income generation opportunities. The Alliance adopts a methodology of ‘developing cells’, with each cell composed of young and mature entrepreneurs who exchange experiences and knowledge. While part of a cell, each entrepreneur builds his/her capabilities and helps to build the capacity of entre­ preneurs from different communities. The themes elaborated in this process vary from the development of businesses to social ethics and personal motivation. Within the cell, an entrepreneur has access to technology, equipment and computers. Christian Vanizette from France engineers and fosters a global community of thousands of individuals and groups who share a common passion for social change and engage with the goal of solving the specific challenges of social entrepreneurs. Vanizette’s carefully thought-through online and offline collaborative processes allow any social entrepreneur to submit a challenge to the MakeSense community and tap into its collective wisdom to obtain a satisfying solution within a few days. Vanizette has made this possible through highly structured problem-solving mechanisms that are based on collaborative design and are open-sourced within the community.


Setting up and running a business entails taking risks on a personal as well as on a financial level. Sharing this risk stimulates the creation of more companies and ventures. A holding company for new businesses can take advantage of economies of scale, for example, in procuring financing for member companies, providing consulting services and detecting new marketing opportunities. Another way of sharing risk is a collective model whereby a group of stake­holders owns a percentage of each enterprise and each enterprise owns a percentage of the collective. Sharing risk often results in entrepreneurs being able to access credit loans more easily and decreasing the liability of each individual. It allows structures to be more anchored in and tailored to the needs of the community in which they operate as well as enabling them to access peer support and engagement.

Martin Hollinetz from Austria founded the bottom-up OTELO network, which fosters creativity, principles of sharing and action in rural parts of Austria that were previously isolated and lacking creative spirit. OTELO is an abbreviation for “open technology lab” —spaces designed for and by people of all ages in which to experiment, collaborate and communicate about topics they want to take action on or simply learn about. A minimum of five people can come together to pursue an idea in areas such as creative economy, media, education, agriculture and robotics. Martin has developed a new working model whereby entrepreneurs can launch their ventures whilst being employed by a cooperative. This model allows them to combine the independent style of entrepreneurial work with the benefit of an organisational structure which helps preventing legal and bureaucratic risks and take advantage of financial and administrative economy of scales. Emmanuel Kasperski from France has developed a model that is relevant in areas where the context is too complex for individual entrepreneurs to succeed or where an urgent social gap remains unfilled. The co-construction of social enterprises is an incremental process in which local governments, local businesses, citizen groups and staff members all take part in ­supporting a designated Changemaker in his or her entrepreneurial endeavour. The individual enterprises form a collective of social enterprises and Kasperski has engineered a unique and ingenious equity ownership model in order to keep this collective model together. The group of stakeholders owns 50+1 per cent of each enterprise and each enterprise owns 40 per cent of the collective. This teamof-teams model fosters a self-sustaining dynamic and prevents individual opt-outs of collective members.



In addition to their need for management skills and capital, entrepreneurs can only be successful if they have the confidence and self-esteem to walk the entrepreneurial path. Recognizing this need and providing people with the confidence that enables them to choose to set up their own ventures is an integral aspect of many social innovations focused on economic development. Helping women, the elderly, young people and parents to achieve insight and think of entrepreneurship as an option is being seen as a powerful way of fostering social participation as well as job creation. In addition, the recognition of successful (social) entrepreneurs is crucial for establishing entrepreneurship as a viable and sustainable professional path. Such recognition can be achieved through awards, online and offline competitions and by raising awareness of the role of entrepreneurs in society.

Norbert Kunz from Germany has developed the first and only comprehensive local venture support system in Germany, called ‘Enterprise Program’, which has now spread to ten centres in four German Federal States. The main activity of his organisation, Social Impact, is centred in designing and implementing tailor made start-up support solutions for entrepreneurs in two areas: inclusive entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. Norbert’s approach is multifaceted and begins with a profiling phase in which unemployed and disadvantaged young people meet with trainers from regional Enterprise Centres to probe and stimulate their ideas and motivation. After the first assessment, candidates who opt for employment are linked with businesses and public institutions to gain education/job opportunities, although most of these individuals later start their own businesses. Guilhem Cheron from France has created La Ruche qui Dit Oui (“the beehive that says yes”), a new marketplace for local, sustainable suppliers that targets mainstream consumers. Guilhem brings together a critical mass of consumers and gives them access to a distribution system for local, smallscale and environmentally-sustainable products. This distribution model brings local consumers and local farmers together thanks to the mobilization of a nationwide network of changemakers who, inspired by Guilhem's vision, can become “Ruche Entrepreneurs”. These entrepreneurs are driving a more viable marketplace for local, sustainable artisanal food production in France and eventually across Western Europe.

In Germany and throughout Europe, insolvency typical spells financial and social ruin. Using the spirit, engagement and skills of insolvent micro-entrepreneurs in a peer help group, Attila von Unruh from Germany empowers, de-stigmatizes and lobbies for insolvent peoples’ ability to restart their entrepreneurial lives. Insolvents Anonymous (IA) provides insolvent individuals with the infrastructure and network needed to prevent future instances of personal bankruptcy. IA also builds a community of support for insolvent individuals at all points in their insolvency experience, operating under the principle that those experiencing insolvency themselves can reverse the vicious circle of shame and isolation and carry on with their professional paths. Tomás Olivieri from Argentina is constructing a new fabric that values and celebrates the contributions of workers 45 years and older through two distinct angles. Besides working carefully with individuals through an intense, effective two-month programs carried out mainly by trained volunteers, Diagonal supports the private sector, universities and the larger society in including over 45 years workers. The program also support participants in becoming entrepreneurs with 45 percent of alumni ending up launching their own ventures or businesses. Such incredible evidence of entrepreneurship can be accredited in part to the emphasis on active personal growth and empowerment in the coaching sessions which lead the participants to rediscover their capabilities, regain their self-image, and have the confidence to start their own business with great success rates.

Through its 30-year tested selection process, Ashoka’s venture program identifies and launches social entrepreneurs with ideas to unlock deeply entrenched systemic problems. Ashoka Fellows are deeply committed entrepreneurial individuals. They do not just build a clinic or a kindergarten; they create innovations to change how systems (e.g. healthcare or education) function and set new patterns for their fields. Ashoka’s Changemakers platform is a global online community that supports everyone’s ability to be a changemaker and to inspire, mentor, and collaborate with other members of the community at every level of changemaking. Changemakers.com convenes and connects high-potential individuals, their ideas and resources through the power of collaborative competitions and partner networks. Great innovations and innovators are being showcased and recognized for realizing their ideas.




Even social entrepreneurs with powerful social innovations can struggle to reach their full potential because of difficulties in accessing capital. A major gap still exists in the market between the needs of social entrepreneurs and the expectations of investors. New strategies set out to bridge this gap by combining a new offer of social investment from philanthropic and private investors with the assistance and coaching needed by entrepreneurs to become ready to receive investment. On the one hand, social entrepreneurs find it hard to navigate the different investment options or effectively combine diverse sources of funding. On the other hand, investors, despite their growing interest in social finance, have difficulties in reaching social entrepreneurs who can fulfil their standard requirements, such as minimum investment prerequisites and proven ability for returning the capital injections they receive. By engaging traditional as well as new lenders and expanding both the economic and knowledge offer available to social entrepreneurs, new products and strategies are innovating social finance and enabling more ventures to scale up their impact.

Steve Rothschild in the USA is piloting the Human Capital Performance Bond in the state of Minnesota to provide additional capital from private investors such as banks, pension funds, individuals and foundations for the highest performing human service providers, NGOs and social enterprises. As the state’s general fund spending for most programmes is expected to decrease significantly in the future, the Bond increases support for those social programmes that generate economic value to the state. This also generates additional funding for the state as these social interventions do not incur the costs of public subsidies. Launched by Ashoka Germany in 2012, the Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship (FASE) is an independent agency that assists social enterprises with outstanding concepts in finding appropriate financing. In doing so, they are helping to shape a new financial ecosystem for social innovation. FASE identifies investors and financiers of the entire spectrum, ranging from private investors, family offices to foundations, social investors and banks. This approach enables social enterprises to finance significant growth, overcoming the often rigid boundaries between donors, investors and the public sector.


Falk Zientz is building a self-sustaining microfinance distribution system which links traditional banks and non-banking organizations in Germany. Through this new system of micro lending, Falk is empowering tens of thousands of entrepreneurs to access new forms of capital and create lasting change for themselves and their communities. This new model breaks the cost barrier, penetrates niches and creates a financially sustainable platform. Falk has embedded this strategy with key stakeholders, thereby institutionalizing it in financial markets. Faisel Rahman is seeking to transform the provision of financial services to the low-income communities in the UK. He demonstrates that this market can be profitable, if the proper information is provided to mainstream financial institutions, and second, financial products and services are tailored for low-income individuals. Fair Finance helps entrepreneurs by offering Fair Business Loans which help new or existing businesses in need finance. The Ashoka Support Network (ASN) is a global community and investors’ network of successful business people who share Ashoka’s belief that entrepreneurs are the primary engines for economic and social development. They support the work of Ashoka through financial investment and by sharing their knowledge and expertise directly with social entrepreneurs. In doing so, the ASN is creating an entrepreneurial community that builds business-social bridges to achieve social impact.

Lily Lapenna from the UK is fostering and educating a generation of young people who will become the enterprising and financially empowered citizens of the future. At the core of Lily’s approach is the insight that finance can be used not simply to encourage savings and thrift but also as an effective springboard for young people to launch new ventures. The centerpiece of MyBnk’s unique approach is the MyBnk-in-a-Box program. As a youth-focused and youth-led microfinance scheme, it emulates a real world lenderborrower scenario. Through the banking scheme young people create and manage their own savings and take out small, interest-free loans to start their own ventures. By coupling microfinance inspired financial literacy with entrepreneurship, Lily provides a unique learning experience that goes beyond learning about money, but also equips individuals to thrive in a fast-changing and dynamic workplace by learning financial concepts and tools to achieve their goals and unlock their entrepreneurial potential.



Social entrepreneurs are closing the gap between the social and business sectors and creating new models which, by combining expertise from both sectors, can achieve both social impact and financial stability – hence more long-term employment opportunities. On the one hand, social entrepreneurs are getting closer to business practices by tapping into high growth areas and finding the right niche markets where growing social businesses can be launched. Organic agriculture, ecological housing, coding and recycling are just a few examples of fields in which many successful entrepreneurs are operating and where the financial sustainability of their ventures is enabling them to fulfil their social goals of generating long-term employment and the development of a skilled workforce. On the other end, the business sector is getting closer to the social sector and realizing that solving social problems can actually present new business opportunities and new ways of achieving impact on society beyond their CSR practices. New models of hybrid value chain are bringing businesses to work with social entrepreneurs and explore how social impact and the inclusion in the workforce of targeted individuals can be incorporated in line with the value chain of successful corporations.

André Dupon from France realized that the future of the job insertion field belongs to those who can create partnerships based on industry knowledge leadership. André has invented, experimented and scaled an innovative model to co-create large-sized social ventures with the business sector. By systematizing a new type of alliance and bringing his Group ‘Vitamine T’ to a critical size, he has enabled a growing number of unemployed people to find their way back to the labour market and also demonstrated how hybrid value chains are efficient, impactful and sustainable solutions for addressing long-term unemployment in France. Enriching these social ventures with fast-growing ecological activities and cutting-edge technologies such as electronic waste recycling, André has developed a successful template for the development of sustainable social enterprises. The extension of activities on ‘social’ markets offers private companies the opportunity to reinforce their core businesses by accessing skilled human resources, cutting-edge technologies in green businesses, or market penetration in French territory. Through a simple market mechanism— Regionalwert AG, a legal holding company with publicly available shares—Christian Hiss from Germany has created an accessible financial investment opportunity that is changing the structure of the agriculture sector. The company is committed to an ecological and social constitution and has developed an innovative reporting method, taking 64 economic, ecological and social indicators into account. Regionalwert AG has created regional value chains where they did not previously exist. In addition to buying small farms with social and environmental impacts, the holding company also invests in wholesalers and organic catering firms with

Ana Bella Estévez from Spain is shifting the focus of support programs that address gender-related violence. She works to empower abused women by leveraging their strengths and capabilities in order to regain self-confidence to begin the separation process from their abuser. Ana Bella works with a network of partners to create access to work opportunities in the business sector, hence helping victims release their full potential . Ana Bella has recently partnered with Danone in Spain to empower survivors through training and valuable jobs opportunities. Currently, 118 positions as sales promoters are covered by survivors women.

Thorkil Sonne from Denmark turns the handicaps of autism into a competitive advantage in businesses and opens up new opportunities for autistic adults. He created Specialist People Foundation, a for-profit software testing company that assesses and employs high-functioning autistic adults and uses their special skills to out-perform the market. After his son was diagnosed with autism, Thorkil recognized that autistic people have unique skills, such as attention to detail, precision and an unerring focus. With this insight, he is turning a world where 90 percent of autistic people are unemployed into one where they can succeed. The foundation now serves clients like Microsoft, SAP and CSC and is establishing a replication model to allow the solution to spread worldwide and achieve its vision of one million jobs for people with autism.

Guillaume Bapst funder of the Association Nationale De Dévelopement des Epiceries Solidaires (ANDES) in France is revolutionizing the way low income households access and purchase food. In an attempt to improve the food distribution system in France, where access is often slow and bureaucratic, choices are limited, and quality and nutritional value are low, Guillaume has built a network of solidarity grocery shops. His national network of social groceries includes 200 to date, that aim to distribute food to low income populations with a minor financial participation as “clients” not “beneficiaries”. He also creates jobs for disadvantaged people in small units receiving food from various sources, checking the quality and organizing the logistics.

Arnaud Castagnède has built a social business in France that has gained recognition as a market leader in the job rehabilitation field, based on the renovation of historical patrimony. His organization, Actavista, has six regional branches and a turnover of eight million euros. Actavista is considered the leader among professional rehabilitation companies in the south of France (the Bouches-du-Rhône region). By helping participants through social support, vocational guidance and professional experience in construction and renovation work, Actavista offers an adapted, high-value and certified job qualification programme, the first of its kind in France, turning formerly unemployed individuals into a workforce in high demand by private construction companies.

much higher financial margins. The result is that all three returns—financial, social and environmental—are soundly balanced within the holding.




Social entrepreneurs have developed holistic approaches to place young people on meaningful paths of personal and professional development. By combining skills development and mentoring with work experience and placements within companies, such approaches enable and encourage youth to become self-determined individuals with the ability to make informed life, education and career choices. Whilst youngsters at different stages of their education develop the skills required by the labour market and the motivation to find their own path, companies learn new and more effective approaches to hiring and developing the talent they need to succeed. Social entrepreneurs are thus creating new ways to incentivize companies to open up new recruiting channels, whilst increasing access for young people to development and career opportunities.

Serra Titiz’s web platform Gelecek Daha Net in Turkey encourages and enables young people to be self-determined, proactive and well informed members of society. The platform can be accessed freeof-charge, anytime and anywhere, inspiring youth by engaging them with role models, raising their awareness of existing life, education and career opportunities, encouraging them to make choices on their own and empowering them through a combination of guidance, mentoring, coaching and skill development services and opportunities. In addition to its web platform and online modules, Gelecek Daha Net also facilitates offline forums and workshops countrywide and is introducing mentoring manuals, handbooks and training modules, allowing high schools and universities to replicate and localize innovative approaches. Karin Ressel in Germany empowers students to realize their potential in vocational careers by reinventing the relationships between each other, their schools and future employers. Through hands-on learning modules that simulate real-life work experiences, students assess their interests and aptitudes while prospective employers increase their recruitment and retention rates. Each year, her organization ‘Berufsparcours’ conducts 110 Profession Tours in schools and 90 company fairs in eight German counties, reaching approximately 50,000 pupils per year. Sofia Appelgren in Sweden has launched a programme that matches the most dynamic and entrepreneurial young women immigrants with Swedish entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. Mitt Liv (My Life) partners with traditional companies to build mentor relationships between young girls and company employees, as well as to expand educational opportunities into the extracurricular space through short courses on Swedish society, life-planning, and labour market competitiveness. Furthermore, Sofia’s programme creates a win-win interactive programme for these girls by building networks, personal relationships, and life-plans—giving the girls solid contacts for future opportunities and success to incubate their own ideas and develop their entrepreneurial skills.


Rafael Alvarez’s organization Genesys Works, in the USA, provides training for teenagers with low incomes in high-tech jobs and exposure to professional work environments, proving his belief that students who experience success in “that first professional job” while still in high school are more likely to go to college and go on to thrive in the economic mainstream. Ten of the fifteen largest companies in Houston now employ Genesys Works students, 90% of whom go to college. No companies have dropped out; in fact, most ask for additional students each year.

Social innovation is tackling the current problem of filling the high number of vacant positions. Social entrepreneurs are working with employers to help them open up towards candidates with diverse backgrounds and needs by creating a pipeline of skilled employees with high potentials. Existing business cultures are changing and HR policies in companies are being realigned as innovators work with the business sector and introduce new models of qualitative training and placement agencies. As a result, companies have a more diverse and skilled workforce, reflecting societal needs and shifts whilst providing a larger number of people with access to the right career and development opportunities.

Gregor Demblin started Career Moves in Austria with the goal of fostering a more inclusive job market. Gregor has designed Europe’s first online career platform that provides a simple and efficient way to include people with disabilities in all types of jobs. Career Moves closely integrates the needs of disabled workers into an online job platform, providing a centralized virtual space for all Austrian job seekers, irrespective of any disabilities they might have. Gregor’s initiative transforms traditional business culture and attitudes of distrust about hiring disabled people by combatting the prevailing lack of knowledge regarding their abilities. He is working to promote this awareness about abilities to show that disabled people can also be top performers.

Saïd Hammouche founded Mozaïk RH in 2007 in France as the first executive recruitment agency specialized in promoting diversity within corporate culture and reversing employment discrimination patterns by connecting people from disadvantaged communities to leading employers. Said identifies talent from poorer communities and enables companies to develop their recruiting strategies and to match their executive recruitment needs with talented, qualified leaders from diverse areas. Mozaïk’s services are now provided through Adecco’s agency, proving that diversity in the workforce is becoming an essential requirement of today’s corporate culture. With Women like Us and Timewise, Karen Mattison has identified a gap in the recruitment market in the United Kingdom, realizing that while employers often want to recruit part-time staff in order to make the most of their budget, they also find it difficult to access high calibre part-time candidates through traditional recruitment agencies. Karen also realized that there was a large talent pool of excellent parttime candidates amongst people who needed a more flexible schedule— especially amongst mothers. Karen is changing the way corporations work by extending the number of flexible job opportunities and allowing more people with valuable skills and talents to join the workforce in a way that is suitable to their life needs. Christian Vieth enables small and medium-sized farms in Germany to realize their potential as they undergo the need for extra-familial hand-over of farms. Christian offers an online matchmaking platform that connects farmers with young agricultural entrepreneurs interested in taking over daily work on farms while at the same time enabling the predecessors to stay at the farm with a secure pension. As more than 70% of farms do not have successors, Christian’s model is creating new opportunities for younger generations whilst preserving the essential economic and social role of small to midsize farms in Europe.

Facilitated by a coach, people work together on reinforcing skills, share experiences, learn communication techniques, map current opportunities and identify how to better position one selves in the market. The program allows 50% of the participants to find work opportunity and is currently being rolled out by the Santa María la Real Foundation throughout the country thanks to the contribution of volunteers who contribute with practical support and by sharing their experiences and knowledge. Frank Hoffman in Germany pioneered a diagnostically superior, personal, low-cost breast examination method by training blind people as skilled diagnosticians. With this model, Frank is not only offering improved and more cost-effective early preventive breast cancer diagnosis, but is also creating a new profession, opening the medical field to the blind. Furthermore, Frank’s program helps seeing patients become aware of blind people’s unique capacities; turning blindness, often considered a disability, into an asset. Talents4Good was launched in Germany by Ashoka as the first recruitment agency for job openings carrying social impact, helping social entrepreneurs to access the right talent to strengthen their teams and achieve their goals. Talents4Good is matching people who want to do meaningful jobs with employers that offer meaningful jobs.

José Marial Pérez “Peridis” has developed Lanzaderas de Empleo y Emprendimiento Solidario in Spain to address the problem of unemployment through an innovative methodology that brings together unemployed people to develop their skills and employability.


ABOUT ASHOKA ASHOKA’s vision is a world in which Everyone is a Changemaker—a society that responds quickly and effectively to social challenges, and where each individual has the freedom, confidence and societal support to address any social problem. We are a global professional association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs—individuals with new ideas to systemically address the world’s biggest challenges and the entrepreneurial skill to transform those ideas into national, regional and global social impact. Over thirty years, we have identified, supported, and networked 3,000 social entrepreneurs in 70 countries, solving systemic problems in education, healthcare, civic participation, economic development, environmental protection and other key areas. Having successfully built the field of social entrepreneurship, we have turned our attention in recent years to accelerating a trend we have seen in the work of Ashoka Fellows—working on the basis that every individual can and must be a changemaker, both for our individual success and fulfilment and for the success of our increasingly complex world. We need solutions to outrun problems, and this is only possible if everyone contributes to changing their own lives, their communities, their countries, their institutions, the world. Ashoka activates and connects powerful communities of changemakers. We believe that by connecting the pockets of changemaker communities across the world with one another and with other key catalytic partners we can ignite a self-multiplying, irreversible movement.


76% of Ashoka Fellows have already changed national patterns in their field.


54% of Fellows have changed market dynamics at national level.


57% of Fellows have contributed to reformed and improved national policy.


52% of Fellows have achieved changes in the code of conduct, mission statement, or official policy of a large organization or industry at national level.


54% of Ashoka Fellows have achieved national impact to fully include marginalized groups in society.


56% of Ashoka Fellows have achieved business-social congruence at national level.


66% of Ashoka Fellows are building a culture of changemaking and social entrepreneurship.


CONTACTS Ashoka Europe Directors Arnaud Mourot amourot@ashoka.org Felix Oldenburg foldenburg@ashoka.org Greece Aphrodite Bouikidis abouikidis@ashoka.org Italy Alessandro Valera avalera@ashoka.org Spain Ana Saenz de Miera anasaenzdemiera@ashoka.org www.ashoka.org

Profile for Ashoka Europe

Ashoka New Solutions for Employment  

Ashoka New Solutions for Employment