Thursday, June 29, 2006

"When do systems begin to change? When entrepreneurs decide it's time." - --Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka (Quoted in Fast Company, 2005)

Bill Drayton's a visionary, encouraging the citizen sector to change the world through entrepreneurship. His group, Ashoka (, seeks and unites social entrepreneurs throughout the world. Anyone who's trying to change the world is a candidate for membership in Ashoka. The identified social entrepreneurs are given a fellowship, but that's not the really cool part. The best part of Ashoka is that the identified socially-focused businesses are given access to a business model that's only now emerging in the biggest companies in the world. Ashoka unites social entrepreneurial businesses through innovation and knowledge sharing.

Bill Drayton envisions Ashoka as an ever-increasing flow of ideas. The network links small and medium sized businesses across the world and identifies similarities in their problems, solutions, distribution networks or marketing. Then it links the practitioners and their ideas. The result is exponential knowledge, across the world. Drayton's emphasis is on innovation diffusion, which is a difficult thing to do. Most companies struggle with having employees accept new innovations, much less the marketplace. Ashoka links successful innovators to share that practice of innovation diffusion. And it works--both for the member businesses and for Ashoka. Drayton started Ashoka with less than $50,000 as a yearly budget. Now, Ashoka's Fellowships are over $17 million a year (

There are millions of good ideas out there, but implementing them successfully and well is a challenge for anyone. Ashoka strives to make social change through entrepreneurship as easy as possible by demonstrating that knowledge transfer can take place across the world. Bolivian farmers and Nepalese farmers can be taught in the same way, and Ashoka proves it. Ashoka is a "global accelerator" for innovation (See - Keith H Hammonds, “A Lever Long Enough to Move the World,” Fast Company; Jan 2005).

[Summary Prepared by: Caroline]

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