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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What makes Ashoka different?

  • Our understanding of the history we are living and the revolution happening in the citizen sector. Ashoka is able to build programs designed to address the economic and social forces shaping our communities.

  • Our excellence in seeking out the world’s best social entrepreneurs. We pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship, with nearly three decades of experience in identifying and investing in the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, as well as building the network and partners to support them.

  • Our selection process. To elect our Fellows, we have refined a rigorous and extensive selection process which draws on our networks of local and international experts for nominations, interviews, analysis.

  • Our platform of collaborative entrepreneurship. We have systematized virtual collaborative entrepreneurship through our open sourcing platform, Changemakers.

  • Ultimately, our approach of a network effect. We are creating a network effect by linking 80 percent of the leading social entrepreneurs to many of their business entrepreneur peers, which then creates multiple dimensions of financial and community partnerships.

2. When did Ashoka start?

Ashoka was founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton. To see Ashoka's full timeline, click here.

3. What is a social Entrepreneur?

Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change. Learn more

4. When was the Hybrid Value Chain (HVC) initiative launched, and why?

  • For centuries we have had two separate production and distribution systems, one business and the other social, serving virtually every human need but not talking to one another. Over the last three decades, however, the citizen sector has become as competitive and entrepreneurial as business and has largely closed the earlier productivity, scale, and globalization gaps. As a result, these two different systems can now -- very, very profitably for all the actors -- be collapsed into one, far superior hybrid value chain.

  • In response to the billions of citizens around the world lacking access to financial services, adequate housing, and health care, Ashoka launched the Hybrid Value Chain™ (HVC) initiative in 2003 in collaboration with its community of social and business entrepreneurs to drive large-scale change through business-social models across the economic spectrum worldwide. To this day we have now demonstrated the power of HVC in three very different industries in seven sites on four continents. Ashoka is focusing on these important issues to improve the lives of underserved populations by transforming sectors through collaborative entrepreneurship. 

 5.What does it take to be a Hybrid Value Chain?

    Hybrid Value Chains can transform industries and create new ones if they meet these four criteria: The business has the potential to be large in scale and to cross borders. The best HVCs will have enormous impact, not only on a company’s bottom line but on millions of lives. For-profits and social entrepreneurs work together to create multiple kinds of value. Companies and CSOs capitalize on their particular areas of expertise to deliver a valuable product or service that neither could provide on its own. Consumers- broadly defined- pay for the product or service. This is not charity work or a CSR project. Sustainability and scalability rest on profitability. A system-changing idea provides the basis for new competition. Muhammad Yunus’s microcredit idea of 30 years ago has been expanded to include health care and insurance products as well as financial services.

6. What are some successful pilots of these business models with social impact in the area of housing?

  • Ashoka’s Housing for All initiative was launched in 2007 to leverage the strengths of business and social actors to unlock the affordable housing markets globally and on a large scale. See a few successful examples below:
  • India Case Example: The affordable housing market in India is estimated to be $US 270 billion, yet there is a deficit of 24.7 million affordable homes. Ashoka is pioneering a new way to foster collaboration at large scale between mortgage financers, developers, CSOs and the informal sector so that the Indian labor force that belongs to the informal sector (66 % of the population who do not make enough regular income to afford to own a home) are able to actively do so. Five citizen sector organizations and 11 businesses have joined as partners. By 2014, an estimated 500,000 families will have access to affordable housing.
  • To date, 5,000 homes have been built with a projection of an additional 5,000 by 2011. With the improvement of living conditions and the expansion of the affordable housing industry both economic and social development is being generated.