Two and a half years ago, we – a highly motivated Pan-European crew of colleagues within Ashoka – launched a new initiative: The Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program, a co-learning and co-creation community for social innovators in Europe. Today, we take a moment to look back and see what we have achieved in the last year, through our Impact Report  which covers our activities from September 2019 to August 2020.

The mission of the Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program is to build THE community for social innovators in Europe. The program is based on three pillars to support the social entrepreneurship movement in Europe:

  1. CO-LEARNING: We offer workshops, webinars, and retreats for our community members develop changemaker skills and drive systemic change together.
  2. EMPOWERING THE ECOSYSTEM: We inspire multistakeholder initiatives and build new infrastructure for social entrepreneurship.
  3. COLLECTIVE IMPACT: We bring together changemakers around topics that require collective action, including COVID-19, biodiversity protection, and the future of democracy.

The second year of Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program has been an incredible journey. Although we had initially planned for several in-person trainings, plans changed quickly as COVID-19 swept across the globe. Adapting to the sudden changes, we contributed to Ashoka’s COVID-19 response initiative in Europe and hosted a series of online community gatherings, which culminated in the Changemakers United Summit held in June.

The pandemic has demonstrated the resilient, agile, and responsive nature of social entrepreneurs, who are working to address the negative consequences of this crisis while also building more equitable systems for the future. Now more than ever, the world needs changemakers, and social entrepreneurs are answering the call.

In a post-COVID-world, everyone must be able to contribute. To address the massive challenges we face, social entrepreneurs and changemakers across sectors must drive systemic changes together. Co-learning and co-creation are more important than ever, and the Ashoka Europe Fellowship team is committed to continuing to build and support a community of changemakers.

Today, we are proud to present the key facts, figures and take-aways from the 2019/2020 impact report .

Download our Impact report here


Impact Numbers

Participation & Evaluation

Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program supported 300 social entrepreneurs and changemakers through its co-learning modules​ (nearly 3x increase in participation from the previous year) from 37 countries (as compared to 17 last year). We engaged 1.500 changemakers in building and advancing the ecosystem for social entrepreneurship in Europe.

We reached a diverse, well-balanced audience including Ashoka Fellows and their co-leaders, Ashoka Support Network (ASN) Members, Ashoka Partners, and our own staff members. We inspired participation of social entrepreneurs and changemakers from other continents, with a special focus on Africa. In fact, 1/3 of program participants came from continents other than Europe.

We convened key stakeholders around critical topics like funding system change, replication & transfer and eldership & transition. Our work on advancing the ecosystem of social entrepreneurship triggered 11 spin-off initiatives led by the community.

To evaluate the program, we implemented an activity-based evaluation process. This year we will add an outcome-based evaluation based on key global Ashoka objectives.

In the activity-based evaluation,  Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program ​received a very positive overall assessment by participants: 93% would likely or very likely recommend the program l(net promoters score)​.

According to studies on the impact of professional training, the percentage of individuals who apply their newly acquired knowledge after participating in a professional development training ranges between 30% and 40%, on average (i.e. 6 out of 10 individuals do take action based on what they have learned!) For the Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program ,however, 79% of the participants of our co-learning modules (workshops, retreats, webinars) are planning follow-up activities in their organization after having taken part in our program.

Knowledge Products

Co-led by our colleague Florian Rutsch, together with Odin Muehlenbein of Ashoka Germany and the Globalizer Program, and in cooperation with many other teams, we engaged in a collaboration with McKinsey & Company to create the report Embracing Complexity Towards a Shared Understanding of Funding System Change. Social entrepreneurs from Catalyst 2030, the foundations Co-Impact, Echoing Green, Schwab and Skoll and SystemIQ, an expert for transforming markets and business models in key economic systems, all contributed to this report.Another highlight of our knowledge work is our New Leadership Online course, created by our program co-leader Michela Fenech.

Communication & Events

Through newsletters, blog posts, and knowledge products, we shared learnings and insights with our network of 16 country offices with Ashoka´s core community of 2.000 social entrepreneurs and changemakers all across Europe (check out all our newsletters and blogs here and knowledge products here!). We reached +50.000 changemakers through posts on Ashoka´s global social media accounts with +100.000 Followers​.

Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program team hosted 14 sessions in Ashoka Changemaker Summit, the largest online gathering of system-changing social innovators from around the world.

We also became a platform to connect Ashoka teams with our community. In June and July 2020, we co-hosted three co-creation sessions with Ashoka Fellows and Ashoka Europe´s children and youth program on “guiding teachers towards systemic change”, “guiding youth towards discovery of their potential” and “empowering teams toward systemic change”.

Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis

The Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program ​reacted quickly to COVID -19 pandemic. On March 11 we issued our first message on our COVID-19 response to the community (see here). We immediately moved all activities online​ and engaged Europe´s community through ad-hoc and interactive online community meetings (see here)​. Community was never as much needed as it was in spring of 2020!

We developed a digitalization strategy, , quickly up- skilled all team members, and shared our learnings within Ashoka and the wider changemaker community in Europe and beyond​ (see here).

In April and May, Fellows from around the world responded to our Global Fellows Survey on the challenges and opportunities they experienced due to the pandemic. We analyzed and synthesized their invaluable input around several themes such as social impact, financial sustainability, personal and organizational challenges as well as recommendations to policy and decision-makers.

We also joined forces with colleagues and partners in Europe and across the world to support implementation of Ashoka´s flagship Changemaker United program, which highlight the role of social entrepreneurs in fighting the pandemic and re-building Europe​ (see here)

Teams of Teams- We integrate and catalyze

The Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program ​acts as a catalyst for the European integration of 16 country offices. Each year, we co-design our programs with Ashoka teams, country offices and Fellows, , while also retaining the agility to respond to ad-hoc community needs.

To build an engaged community online, we are supporting and contributing to the development of a digital platform in partnership with WeChangers.  

The knowledge we co-create and co-learn together in the program, which derives from the experience of leading practitioners in the field, is cutting edge and action oriented. We help to standardize these learnings and translate them into accessible and replicable learning and engagement journeys for Ashoka Fellows and partners​. All our offers are custom-designed and evolving!

And as participation shows, we succeeded in spreading the program beyond Europe. We collaborate with our colleagues from Africa, Latin America, Asia and the U.S. to connect our Fellowships. Our knowledge and programming get replicated, localized and diffused across the globe!

We operate in a LEAN and EFFECTIVE way!

In 2019/ 2020 16 Ashoka staff members based in country offices across Europe were part of the Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program team. These staff members spend between 15-100% of their time on the program with a total FTE of approx. 4,6​. The Fellowship Europe Program ​is operationally anchored in Ashoka UK´s legal entity​, which is Ashoka Europe´s Hub.

From September 2019 to August 2020, our total budget was EUR 351.711,73. The program is funded through the co-funding of Ashoka country offices, partnerships with corporations and foundations, and special initiatives funded by corporate partners and foundations (such as Zalando, Google and Nestlé). Some of our offerings also use a fee-for-participation model​. 

We developed an operative system to engage, connect and mobilize staff, community members, and partners effectively and efficiently.

Impactful Partnerships

We thank our core partner Steelcase for their invaluable contributions, their trust and the spirit of co-creation, which drives our partnership. Check out the inspiring interview between Kim Dabbs, Global Director of Social Innovation at Steelcase, and Georg Schön, co-leader of the Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program (see here)

For me it’s so inspiring to get to meet with Ashoka and get to learn and understand what each and every social entrepreneur is doing in their local community. Each and every one of the Ashoka Fellows is emerging from these challenging times with really innovative solutions. It gives me hope that we are going to emerge out of this as a stronger community and a stronger world. It’s been an inspiring journey with you.

Kim Dabbs, Global Director of Social Innovation

What connects us deeply are our visions. We are both driven by the mission to create a society where everyone can be a changemaker, where everyone can unleash their full potential. We share a deep commitment to social innovation and sustainability. We both have a mindset of being an explorer. To not stay with the status quo. We always want to go beyond.

Georg Schön, Co-Leader Fellowship Europe Program

The COMMUNITY is core!

For us, community is essential. In fact,  the community itself has become one of the outstanding gains of our program – this program is all about us sharing and collaborating!

We want to use these results to thank all of the Fellows, ASNs, partners, changemakers in education, and the Ashoka staff for contributing to the Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program and bringing such a community to life!

Our goal is to increase the network effect of our community. We are driven by the ambition to lift-up its collaborative potential. Join us  in making it happen!

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