Supporting System Changers: The role of system thinking, leadership, and wellbeing is a guideline for social entrepreneurs to create equitable, positive & lasting change in their fields. 

In this report, we outline three features of entrepreneurial support that have become – through years of testing around the world – top priorities for Ashoka’s Fellowship support program.  

In short, the three features are:  

1.    System Change Strategy: Highly impactful social entrepreneurs develop solutions that address systems, not symptoms. We can train our minds to think holistically, map systems, involve multiple perspectives, surface root causes, identify the most powerful levers for intervention, and make systems change our north star.  

2.    Changemaking Leadership: Leading social entrepreneurs organize as networks and communities to mobilize ecosystems for change. They create the conditions for others to be changemakers at all levels. We can practice leadership that ignites the changemaker potential of others, builds open and fluid organizations, and unfolds collective power.

3.    Wellbeing: With support, patience and humility, we can grow in authenticity and wholeness, ground ourselves in purpose and meaning, strengthen our resilience and sustainability, and make holistic wellbeing a priority in our lives. Self-awareness can be cultivated, and pain and trauma can be healed. Wellbeing journeys can reframe the way we see the world, provide us with direction and support, and create systems that hold us accountable for our goals.   

We hope that by sharing our approach to these three features of entrepreneurial support, explaining our key design principles, and offering selected tools and resources, other supporters will find useful inspiration and insights for their work.

Supporting System Changers: The role of system thinking, leadership, and wellbeing 

This report is written for the wide variety of actors who are working to support current and future generations of social entrepreneurs and to advance social entrepreneurship as a global field of action.

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What is the purpose?

The ecosystem of support for social entrepreneurs has grown tremendously over the last several decades. Supporting System Changers: The role of system thinking, leadership, and wellbeing  is written for the wide variety of actors who are working to support current and future generations of social entrepreneurs and to advance social entrepreneurship as a global field of action. 

Based on our observations, we believe that these features are essential components of effective entrepreneurial support and that they can play a crucial role in helping social entrepreneurs to create equitable, lasting change. By sharing our learnings, we hope to provide our colleagues and partners in the growing social entrepreneurship ecosystem with useful inspiration and practical insights for their work. More importantly, we hope to spark meaningful dialogue about how our sector can continue to improve and innovate together.   

What will you find? 

While this guide primarily draws on our experiences working with and learning from our diverse global network of Ashoka Fellows, we also rely on the brilliant work of many other supporters, researchers, and practitioners. We have collaborated with +20 leading individuals and organizations worldwide. Many of these inspiring partners are featured in examples and case studies throughout the guide.  

We are excited to share the learnings, resources, and tips that we have compiled through our efforts to build meaningful learning journeys around these three features. We hope you will find them useful, and we welcome any feedback, learnings, or other insights that you would like to share.

We hope that by sharing our approach to these three features of entrepreneurial support, explaining our key design principles, and offering selected tools and resources, other supporters will find useful inspiration and insights for their work.

What makes this report unique? 

This report is written for the wide variety of actors who are working to support current and future generations of social entrepreneurs and to advance social entrepreneurship as a global field of action. Also, this report is an invitation for support organizations to come together and reflect on how we can most effectively strengthen the important work of social entrepreneurs across the  world.

We work closely with our Fellows and community members to transform their challenges into meaningful learning and support programs. As social entrepreneurs continue to adapt to our changing world, so too will our support and our understanding of what makes it most impactful.

We hope that this work sparks more conversation and knowledge exchange about effective support for social entrepreneurship.

Please reach out to us if you want to host a local roundtable, webinar, or event. 

The three features of Supporting System Changers

In this report, we outline three features of entrepreneurial support that have become – through years of testing around the world – top priorities for Ashoka’s Fellowship support program.  

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Systems Change

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Changemaking Leadership

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Wellbeing

Authors

The Supporting Systems Changers report led by Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program, in partnership with Porticus, Ashoka Globalizer, Ashoka Learning & Action Center, Ashoka Learning and Development Initiative. 

We would like to thank Jason Bernhardt-Lanier, Giulia Sergi and Alessandro Valera for their supervision and insights that made the publication of this report possible, as well as Louisa Edwards for proofreading this document.

We also want to express gratitude to all Ashoka colleagues around the world who gave valuable feedback to improve the clarity and relevance of this report, including Cigdem Selgur, Yasmin Gulec, Rajesh Varghese, Maria Clara Pinheiro, Maria Fonseca, Caroline Garret, Ifeyinwa Egwaoje, Ahmed Abdelgalil, Ayendha Kukuh Pangesti, and Marie Ringler.

Please reach out to us for any feedback, learnings, or other insights that you would like to share.