Our Impact in a glimpse
The fourth year of the Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program (2021-2022) was an incredible additional chapter in our journey and a learning adventure. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we continued working and hosting activities fully online for our core community, but we also managed to organize an in-person team retreat in Sicily in June 2022 after two whole years without seeing each other!
Key facts & figures
This year, we:
- Supported 552 social entrepreneurs and changemakers from 60+ countries (of which 352 through our co-learning modules and other 200 changemakers globally through specialized training programs),
- Engaged approximately +2.300 social entrepreneurs and changemakers in building and advancing an ecosystem of support for social innovation through co-creating and co-facilitating 25+ different sets of roundtables, working groups, workshops, webinars,
- Collaborated with 5 collective impact initiatives focused on gender equity, community health, biodiversity, migration, and changemaking education supporting the work of other European teams such as Hello Europe, Ashoka Netherlands, and Ashoka Italy, engaging a total of 140+ systems changers and ecosystem actors in co-creation activities,
- Reached 2000+ changemakers globally through the open-source Systems Change Masterclass co-created with Ashoka Globalizer,
- Reached 3.100 changemakers monthly through our newsletter and welcomed 17.586 unique visitors on our website over the year, in addition to over 62.200 people reached with social media campaigns,
This year, we also:
- Continued collaborating with more than 150 organizations, experts, and Ashoka Fellows to build a program based on the needs of our community members through a participatory program development process that engaged both internal and external key stakeholders,
- Codified and shared insights through articles and knowledge products including including 7 reports, 3 mappings, 4 new or upgraded online courses, 1 resource page, and 1 podcast
- Continued the integration of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) into our work and advanced our efforts by upgrading the DEI guidebook for facilitators, piloting a language translation tool, started measuring DEI metrics, facilitating a DEI learning journey for Ashoka staff and much more,
- Continued to catalyze the integration of Ashoka and its 17 country offices in Europe and aligning with 19 Fellowship Representatives from 11 countries,
Engaged 23 staff members with a total of 10.1 FTE and an annual budget of EUR 805.000 anchored in 8 external funding partnerships, financial contributions by country offices, and earned income;
Strengthened a shared leadership model and organizational matrix that allows colleagues across countries, teams, and levels to step up and unleash their leadership potential.
Our impact along the 3 program pillars: What have we achieved?
With our co-learning pillar, we are designing and delivering co-learning experiences for our community to see and embody changemaking as an approach to transformative social change.
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’s core community. All our offers are custom-designed and evolving!
Activities & Results
- We implemented 7 co-learning courses on 7 different themes (Systems Change, Changemaker Finance, Multistakeholder Collaboration, Co-creation Lab, Measuring Systems Change and Mindset Shift, Changemaking Leadership and Wellbeing) with 352 active participations (and originally 580 registrations – 100 more than the previous year) from 57 countries. Some of our modules this year had limited seats, so we couldn’t accept everyone who registered. We can however calculate a drop-out rate of 25%.
- 200 other changemakers from all continents participated in a range of learning journeys or special projects we delivered connected to international partnerships and programs, including the Changemaker Everywhere Academy, the Green Skills Challenge, Visionary Program Mediterranean Edition, Impact Deal Accelerator, SAMISI training course.
- Together with the Ashoka Globalizer team, the revamped SystemsChange Masterclass, our online self-paced learning offer in three l anguages (EN-ES-FR) in February 2022, open sourced and disseminated globally reaching 2.028 registrations in only 7 months! In addition, the Masterclass was translated into Portuguese thanks to the support of the Ashoka local teams.
- In our co-learning modules, we reached a diverse, well-balanced audience including Ashoka Fellows and their co-leaders (41%); Ashoka Young Changemakers (3%), Ashoka Support Network (ASN) members, partners, and affiliated Changemakers (30%); and our own staff members (26%).
- We are every year more global with 51% of our registrations coming from other continents (19% Latam, 3% MENA, 6% North America, 12% Africa, 11% Asia) compared to 79% registration from Europe the previous year. When it comes to participation, 45% of program participants came from continents other than Europe, 21% more than last year!
Some impact numbers
- To assess the program, we implemented an activity-based evaluation process focusing on our core co-learning activities. We had a total of 114 respondents (32% of participants) in our evaluation this year, which confirms the numbers of the previous year.
- After completing our modules, 80% of participants are now seeing their work at systems change level and 91% of them are working on improving their strategy. This number grew by 10% from the previous year.
- Our co-learning offers received a very positive overall assessment by participants with an overall Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 62.2- a score of 60 or higher is generally a very good NPS in any industry, so, we did a great job!
- 97% of our participants recognize themselves as Changemakers and they agree (average agreement 8.9/10) that the success of an organization/mission/cause depends on the degree in which we can enable others to be and act like changemakers. Overall, participants feel that participating in one of our modules helped them to advance their work towards an Everyone a Changemaker world (average agreement 7.8/10)
- On average, participants think that participating in one of our modules has changed how they see themselves/their role as a leader (average agreement 7.47/10) of those who are seeing their leadership differently, 94.5% declare to lead differently after the course.
- 81% agrees that joining one of our modules has helped them see their work at a systems-change level. Of them, 70% have subsequently made changes to their operations and 91% to their strategy.
Social entrepreneurs and changemakers need a supportive ecosystem. We inspire collaborative initiatives with key ecosystem actors to address the burning needs and challenges of the social entrepreneurship and changemaking movements.
This year, we focused on five priority areas:
- Making support for social entrepreneurs more effective, impactful, and sustainable
- Developing a new culture for funding systems-changing social innovations
- Building enabling environments to transfer systems-changing solutions across borders.
- Addressing the underserved issue of transition and retirement in social entrepreneurship
- Deepening bonds between the social entrepreneurship movements in Africa and Europe
On these issues, we have co-created and co-facilitated +25 roundtables, multi-stakeholder webinars, and working groups with +690 participants.
In addition, we engaged +1800 to build ecosystems for social entrepreneurship, systems change and changemaking.
We co-created 4 reports and shared them widely through our networks:
- Supporting System Changers: The role of system thinking, leadership and wellbeing.
- Influence for Good: How Highly Resourced Individuals Can Support Systems Change.
- Promoting cross-border activities of social economy in Europe, commissioned by EASME and DG GROW (launched in FY23).
- New Allies: How INGOs and Social Entrepreneurs collaborate to transform Global Development
New ideas and initiatives
Many new ideas and initiatives emerged from these encounters and collaborations. We have engaged in 9 collaborations that were initiated or advanced this year.
- Open letter with Catalyst2030 (implemented)
- Investors in Change Academy (initiated)
- Catalyst 2030 Funder Award (advanced)
- Funding System Change Ecosystem Initiatives in France and Switzerland (advanced)
- The European Social Innovation Catalyst Fund (ESIC) (initiated)
- Elders Council (advanced)
- Visionary Program East Africa (advanced)
- Africa Venture Fund (prototyped)
- Reframing International Development Initiative (initiated)
Here are some highlights:
- We launched the new flagship report Supporting System Changers and positioned its findings in relevant conferences. We disseminated the findings through our network of Ashoka offices and Ashoka Fellows around the world.
- We co-created Catalyst 2030, co-hosted its working group on funding system change, co-initiated the Investors in Change Academy for funding system change, and enabled several national initiatives to fund systems-change (e.g. France, Switzerland and Italy).
- Co-created the “An Urgent Invitation to Shift Funding Practices” Open Letter, signed by 1200+ organization from across the Globe, in partnership with Catalyst2030.
- Co-produced and co-published the new report Influence for Good. How Highly Resourced Individuals can support Systems Change.
- Our project Respond-Rebuild-Reinvent, in cooperation with the OECD and 16 other partners, focused on how city administrations in nine cities support and collaborate with social enterprises and how they can replicate and adopt social innovations despite COVID.
- In partnership with the European Commission, we conduct a study to develop policy recommendations for the promotion of cross-border activities for social economy organizations.
- We are part of a consortium that is preparing the launch of the European Social Innovation Catalyst Fund (ESIC). This new fund will ensure adequate financial support for replicating and scaling demonstrably successful social innovations in service of the five EU Missions. It pools 30 million EUR from the European Commission with 120 million EUR private funds.
- We launched a publication New Allies: How governments can unlock the potential of social entrepreneurs for the common good and co-hosted a range of international round tables to boost the issue in Europe and beyond.
- The Elders Council – a group which we helped to co-initiate – grew to be a global initiative engaging over 200 social innovators on co-learning, peer-to-peer support, and the positioning the issue of transition globally. The Elder’s Council has since been set up as an independent organization.
- The Ashoka Visionary Program was successfully replicated in Africa. The Visionary Program is the executive on-site leadership program that connects all modules of the Fellowship Europe program into an interactive learning journey. We have Visionary Programs running now in Europe and Africa – A new opportunity to connect and co-create across the continents.
- We collaborated with Ashoka Africa to launch a Venture Fund to invest directly into new generation of Ashoka Fellows in Africa Together we campaigned for mobilizing funds for Ashoka Fellows in Africa. In addition, 30 Ashoka Fellows and stakeholders from Africa participated in the Learning modules.
COLLECTIVE IMPACT PILLAR
We foster spaces for collaboration & practice to bring our community together around critical issues, challenges, SDG to co-develop initiatives for greater impact.
We co-created and engaged in five collective impact initiatives on five core areas:
The COVID-19 pandemic took a significant toll on the world’s progress toward gender equality. To understand how to best respond to this setback, we mapped the European systems changers’ ecosystem, interviews 30 of them, and from March 2022, brought 10 social entrepreneurs together for a collective journey.
The analysis, case studies, and insights from the group conversations were gathered in a report published in November 2023. The collaboration initiative also resulted in the co-creation of a podcast series and Manifesto for a new gender narrative that we expect in FY23 to be taken up by different stakeholders who will enrich it, add concrete recommendations, and make it a reality.
Led by the Ashoka Hello Europe Initiative Ashoka mapped, since January 2022, over 130 organizations from 23 countries, interviewed 33 of them and identified 16 leaders from business, policy, research and social innovation sectors as well as key leaders from the most impacted communities across Europe.
An innovative 10-month Ecosystem Accelerator process was then facilitated by our team with a core group of 17 participants which aligned on the key systemic barriers that are making the European ecosystem around migrant entrepreneurs and workers inefficient. The accelerator paved the way for the formulation of a report with 4 areas of recommendations that was presented in November 2022.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we brought together 6 leading Ashoka health social entrepreneurs in Europe to draw a collective picture of our healthcare systems in order to identify the root causes of what we believe to be one of the most pressing issue in the field: the dominance and reliance of standard medical interventions when integrated and social care is more applicable in healthcare systems.
The group co-developed a position paper that identifies the key causes of the dominance of, and reliance on, standard medical interventions and published it in January 2023.
In the Changemakers Dialogue! Learning journey, led by Ashoka Italy, the team selected a multistakeholder cohort of 80+ participants composed by social entrepreneurs, students, teachers, school directors, researchers, funders, and non-profit practitioners working in different countries in Europe who attended 6 thematic online meetings from January to June 2022.
Changemakers Dialogue! had the objective of fostering cross- sectorial, inter-generational, and diverse conversations to sparkle and aliment innovation and systemic change in education. A report was developed and published in November 2022 introducing the key innovations in education, reporting the key insights of the conversations and group reflections.
The Bioregional Weaving Labs collective is a collaborative initiative of 25+ systems-changing organizations brought to life by Ashoka Netherlands and co-created with 6 main partners, Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program, Commonland, Presencing Institute, Drawdown Europe, The Weaving Lab. By 2025, the BWL Collective wants to mobilize and support 1 million changemakers who will together contribute to restoring, protecting, and regenerating 1 million hectares of land and sea in Europe, with significant and observable impact by 2030.
To this end, they are establishing Bioregional Weaving Labs in 10 different bioregions in Europe that build capacity and catalyze multi-stakeholder partnerships, mobilizing at least 100.000 changemakers per bioregion. This year, an insight report and a White Paper were published and presented.
Activities & Results: Knowledge Products
We strive to continuously share our experience supporting social entrepreneurs. By sharing our learnings and creating new knowledge, we hope to provide our colleagues and partners in the growing social entrepreneurship ecosystem with useful inspiration and practical insights for their work. We hope to spark a meaningful dialogue about how this movement can continue to improve and to help build new alliances that so we can innovate the ecosystem together.
Here are some of the most important knowledge initiatives we undertook this year:
- 1 knowledge resource on Changemaking Leadership.
- 1 new resource page on Wellbeing.
- 1 Insight Report with recommendations was co-developed (launch Novembre 2022).
- 1 Insight Report published by the BWL Collective.
- 1 White Paper published by the BWL Collective.
- 1 Manifesto for a new Gender Narrative co-created (launch Novembre 2022).
- 1 Insight Report on Gender Equity developed (launch Novembre 2022).
- 1 podcast series of 3 episodes recorded (launch March 2023).
- 1 Position Paper on integrated health co-created (launch January 2023).
- 1 Insight Report on Innovative Solutions for Education: Insights and Reflections from Changemakers Dialogue! Initiative
- Supporting System Changers: The role of systems thinking, leadership, and wellbeing
- Influence for Good Report
- Promoting cross-border activities of social economy in Europe, commissioned by EASME and DG GROW (finalized, launch summer 2023)
- New Allies: How big INGOs and Social Entrepreneurs collaborate to transform International Development
Reaching and mobilizing our community is a craft to be mastered
Through newsletters, blog posts, and knowledge products, we shared learnings and insights with our network of 98 country offices with Ashoka´s core community of more than 4,000 social entrepreneurs and changemakers across Europe and beyond (check out all our newsletters and blogs here).
We have 17,586 yearly unique webpage visitors with an engagement rate of 45%. The Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program monthly newsletter has 3,100 subscribers (mostly social entrepreneurs and business leaders) with an opening rate of 41-50%—not to mention the thousands of stakeholders we reach through country offices sharing our newsletter with their own distinct networks. We reached over 62,200 changemakers through posts on Ashoka’s global social media accounts.
Putting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the center of our work
Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program puts diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at the core of its work as a necessity of fulfilling its vision - a future where everyone is a changemaker. Our goal is to make Fellowship efforts more inclusive & equitable for diverse community of Fellows.
- The DEI guidebook was subject to further development. This document is a blueprint for mainstreaming accessibility and inclusion in day-to-day work of Fellowship Europe colleagues.
- Diversity metrics were measured in all our modules for the first time.
- During the year, we piloted the use of an online simultaneous translation tool in 8 meetings, reaching over 300 participants.
- We supported the Ashoka Global DEI Team in forming a global Council for Equity with 12 Ashoka Fellows.
- 7 one to one discussions with Ashoka Fellows working on diversity and coming from minority groups in Europe were hosted.
- A learning journey for Ashoka staff was organized with international Ashoka Fellows and staff as guest speakers covering 5 topics: antygypsyism, identifying power dynamics and shifting them, diversifying communities, conflict resolution in a multi-cultural setting and trauma, class and region, and ableism. As an additional result of this process, a European DEI Team of Teams was created. The team works on crosscutting DEI issues in various European teams and programs.
Teams of Teams - We integrate and catalyse Ashoka’s work in Europe
The Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program acts as a catalyst for the integration of 17 European country offices and their local communities. To achieve this, the program:
- Acted as a catalyst for the European integration of many country offices, not only from Europe;
- Involved Ashoka teams, country offices, and Fellows annually in program development while remaining agile and responding to ad-hoc community needs;
- Built a new European program infrastructure for community management and communications;
- Standardized internal learnings into accessible and replicable learning and engagement journeys for Ashoka Fellows and partners;
- Is led by Ashoka staff based in and integrated across country offices in Europe;
- Supported Fellowship integration across continents and globally, collaborating with our colleagues from Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the U.S. to connect our Fellows;
- Implemented projects and procedures that we're replicated, localized, and diffused across the globe!
We operate in a LEAN and EFFECTIVE way as a matrix organization!
We kept strengthening our operational system to engage, connect, and mobilize staff, community members, and partners effectively and efficiently. We have been working closely with other European colleagues for the European transition process for a more integrated Ashoka Europe.
- A co-leadership team- Giulia Sergi, Michela Fenech (on maternity leave from August 2022), Georg Schön, Thomas Blettery, Stefania Avanzini (until April 2022), Florian Rutsch (until November 2021) - aligns people, resources, and strategy.
- The core team driving implementation is connected to an extended team of internal collaborators from 10+ other teams and programs, 8 new Europe transition process teams, and local Fellowship Representatives as well as to external collaborators such as CoCreative and Catalyst2030.
- The Europe Forum—Ashoka Europe’s key governance instrument composed of all country directors—provides accountability.
- Learnings, feedback, and results improve organizational infrastructure.
The gamechanger: impactful partnerships for everything we do
We thank our two core partners, Steelcase and Porticus, for their invaluable contributions, trust, and spirit of co-creation which drive our partnerships.
This year, the program is collectively funded through the contributions of Ashoka country offices, core partnerships with Steelcase and Porticus, and special initiatives funded by corporate partners and foundations including Johnson & Johnson, Beiersdorf, Boehringer Ingelheim, Zalando, The Human Safety Net and Amex.
Key Learnings and Challenges
An invitation to collaborate with us on these critical issues!
We need to further develop our impact evaluation framework and process for our ecosystem and collective impact work. Evaluating the impact of mid-to-long-term collaboration initiatives remains a challenge. We need to commit sufficient resources to align our impact evaluation systems across local, European and Global levels, with some key guiding indicators across all levels.
Strategic communication is a priority moving forward. Community members need to have easy access, clear engagement pathways and simple ways to plug-in. We updated our Europe communication strategy to address these needs.
Staff turnover remains a challenge due to sabbaticals, maternity, and paternity leave as well as career changes, especially in senior positions. Due to the complexity of the program, it takes longer for new staff to become effective, with negative consequences for the program. Building our “collaboration muscle” across teams and initiatives is more vital than ever.
Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI)
We successfully anchored DEI within the program, but the journey has only just begun. It’s a long-term process.
Moving ahead, we need to prioritize communication above the production of new, complex, knowledge products. We must foster our ability to translate the insights into communication strategies that increase accessibility, uptake from our community members and policy influence.
We stopped our online community platform prototype and re-focused our energy to build a community engagement strategy across teams, to foster engagement through our existing activities (and some simple add-ons), and to improve accessibility through strategic communications.
Also, improving network leadership and increasing the potential of community co-leadership in the program continue to be a priority moving forward.
Digitalization and Scaling the Program
Due to Covid, we transformed many program activities online, and are continuously learning to improve digitalization and accessibility. Nevertheless, online experiences have its limits. We started to have physical convenings again, which improve outcomes, but are more cost intensive. Balancing online and offline activities in the right way will be important moving ahead.
Scaling the Program
We also achieved to fully open source one of our co-learning modules, resulting in x20 participants. This successful prototype is central for our new scaling strategy, open sourcing all co-learning modules, to move from linear to indirect and exponential scaling.
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!
A BIG shout out goes to the 100+ organizations, experts, and Ashoka Fellows that co-created the program with us in one way or another. You all know who you are, thank you so much! This shows that our program is a real community effort and that it´s the program of ALL of US.
We want to use these results to thank all of the Fellows, ASNs, partners, changemakers, and Ashoka staff members for contributing to the Ashoka Europe Fellowship Program and bringing the community to life across so many countries!
Our goal is to increase the network effect of our community. We are driven by the ambition to uplift its collaborative potential. Join us in making it happen!