Creating an Everyone a Changemaker World

Bill Drayton, Global Education Magazine

We are living at an incredible moment in history, where all of the existing sectors of society are redefining themselves. It started with the private sector. Businesses let loose the radical idea: if you have a new idea and you make it work, we’ll make you rich and respected. Then we will copy you. This revolutionary idea that everyone can make change is now taking root in the social sector.

In 1980, Ashoka was founded on the principle that the most powerful force in the world is a big idea in the right hands. Therefore, Ashoka has carefully selected and helped launch 3,000 of the world’s most effective social entrepreneurs on every continent. Over half of Ashoka Fellows have changed national policy within five years of their selection and launch. In the same five-year period, three- quarters of Fellows have changed the pattern in their field at a national level.

On a local level, Fabio Rosa is an example of an Ashoka fellow who raised the standard of living for those in poverty. His program in Brazil cut rural electrification costs 70-90% and brought electricity to vast rural areas of that country. Fabio, like his social entrepreneur peers, stepped out of existing institutions, challenged the status quo, and built his vision for a better future. However, he first needed the space to demonstrate and refine his ideas, to recruit a team, and to determine how to scale his methods. A very modest stipend from Ashoka allowed him to work full-time to refine and launch his vision. This is how Ashoka changes the world with extremely modest resources. Ashoka has become a community of mutual help and collaboration that multiplies the individual entrepreneur’s confidence and strength.

With time, we have realized that there is an even more powerful role Fabio and other Ashoka Fellows play. These social entrepreneurs

catalyze new local changemakers into being. Every time a social entrepreneur comes up with a new idea, it upsets the way things are done. It challenges the assumption that you can’t change things. The entrepreneur is sowing a seed so that anyone in any community can take this idea and run with it. The entrepreneur is a role model, plowing the earth, breaking up the existing system, and giving people seeds. That leads to thousands upon thousands of local changemakers.

With each new social entrepreneur you have another plowing and seeding and the field expands from the local to national to global level. With more and more citizen participation, the rate of change increases. Ideas quickly travel from Brazil to Bangladesh. There is a multiplier effect of individuals becoming changemakers, stepping up as local role models, and joining forces with major social entrepreneurs. The end result is Ashoka’s mission of “Everyone a ChangemakerTM.

The first step to an “Everyone a ChangemakerTM” world is believing that you can make lasting change and acting on your belief. Identify a problem in your community and give yourself permission to overcome it. Once you enact change, once you internalize that you are a changemaker, you grow in confidence to tackle bigger problems. Each new problem is an opportunity for you to express love and respect in action at the highest possible level. Our world will transform as a result.

Therefore, the most important contribution any of us can make is to increase the proportion of humans who know that they can cause change. There is nothing that brings humans greater happiness in life or that is more important to society.

Bill Drayton

This article was published on October 17th: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in Global Education Magazine

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