Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who have innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society.

Who is an Ashoka Fellow?

Ashoka invests in people. Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to confront social problems. They demonstrate unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas and prove that compassion, creativity, and collaboration are tremendous forces of change. Through fresh perspective and analysis, an Ashoka fellow persists until he or she can drive large-scale change. Ashoka Fellows work in over 60 countries around the globe in every area of human need.

What is Ashoka's selection criteria?

Ashoka's selection process is anchored by our five criteria against which all Fellow candidates are evaluated:

The Knockout Test: A New Idea - Ashoka elects who are posessed by a new idea—a new solution or approach to a social problem—that will change the pattern in a field, be it human rights, the environment, or any other.

Creativity: Successful social entrepreneurs must be creative both as goal-setting visionaries and as problem solvers capable of engineering their visions into reality. Ashoka values creativity in work as a crucial 

Entrepreneurial Quality: Entrepreneurial quality is the defining characteristic of first class entrepreneurs. It defines leaders who see opportunities for change and innovation and devote themselves entirely to making that change happen. Ashoka insists that candidates commit themselves full-time to their ideas during the launch phase.

Social Impact of the Idea: Ashoka is only interested in ideas that it believes will change the field significantly and that will trigger nationwide impact or, for smaller countries, broader regional change. For example, Ashoka will not support the launch of a new school or clinic unless it is part of a broader strategy to reform the education or health system at the national level and beyond.

Ethical Fiber: Ashoka asks every participant in the selection process to evaluate candidates for these qualities rigorously. To do so often requires one to resort to instinct and gut feelings, not just rational analysis. The essential question is: "Do you trust this person absolutely?" If there is any doubt, a candidate will not pass.

What is the selection process like?

Upon receiving a nomination or application for the Fellowship, Ashoka puts candidates through an internal selection process that explores every area of the candidate's work.

The first stage of the process is a “First Opinion” interview where Ashoka’s Venture staff conduct thorough reference checks of the candidate’s field work and identify the impact of the candidate’s new idea. The second stage of the process is a “Second Opinion” interview where an external reviewer assesses the global perspective of the candidate’s work. The candidate then attends a “National level” interview in the third step of the process where he or she is interviewed by a panel of three social or business entrepreneurs. In this stage, crucial aspects of the candidates work such as on-ground impact, scope of scale and the relevance of their new idea. In the final stage of the process, the candidate is assessed by Ashoka’s board before a decision is made.

How can I nominate a fellow or apply for the Fellowship?

To nominate a potential candidate or apply for the Ashoka fellowship, do directly fill in the online form.

Does Ashoka offer a stipend for Fellows?

For Fellows in the launch phase, Ashoka provides a living stipend for an average of three years, allowing them to focus full-time on building their institutions and spreading their ideas. Ashoka also introduces all its Fellows to a global platform of social entrepreneurs that in turn opens doors for opportunities and collaboration. Once elected, Fellows benefit from this community for life.

Have more questions about the Ashoka Fellowship?

If you have more questions about the Ashoka Fellowship, do go through the Ashoka Fellowship FAQ section to browse through commonly asked questions. In case you would like to write to a team member to enquire about specific details, do write to Trina Talukdar at ttalukdar@ashoka.org.