The Resilience of Ashoka Fellows During the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Alexandra Ioan Ashoka
  • Veronica Chiodo Politecnico di Milano School of Management


social impact, social entrepreneurship, partnerships, Ashoka, COVID-19 pandemic, replication, mindset shift


COVID-19’s effect on the work of social entrepreneurs is still unfolding. Current research has observed how social enterprises were involved in immediate responses to the crisis and were affected operationally. Many questions remain regarding the role of social entrepreneurs in generating change in a post-pandemic world.

This research article investigates how several dimensions attached to Ashoka's ‘Everyone a Changemaker’ vision played a role in the resilience of Ashoka Fellows during the pandemic. We found that the replication of their solutions and high partnership and collaboration levels positively impacted the intention of innovation Ashoka Fellows have moving forward. Partnerships also mitigated the negative impact of the pandemic on Fellows' operations and their capacity to continue their activities. On the other hand, the focus on mindset shift as the main impact goal also meant a higher chance of reduction in funding for social entrepreneurs during the pandemic.  


These results emphasize the importance of strong connections and partnerships with other stakeholders for the motivation and opportunity to continue developing new ideas for social change. Whether as replication partners, peer social entrepreneurs, or partners in other roles, we must continue supporting the exchange between social entrepreneurs and a variety of stakeholders. Large numbers of partners can offer stability and provide security for social entrepreneurs in times of crisis. More importantly, however, the support ecosystem for social entrepreneurs – especially funders – needs to be made more aware of the different levels of impact social entrepreneurs aim to achieve in order to be more supportive of them in complex contexts. Although direct service responses are immensely valuable, the mindset shift work done by social entrepreneurs contributes to deeper change in the long term and needs to be supported accordingly.

This research article contributes to our evolving understanding of how social entrepreneurs navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. As the situation evolves, we will be able to identify more elements that contribute to their resilience, factors that foster their creativity, and drive to continue addressing social issues effectively.

Author Biographies

Alexandra Ioan, Ashoka

Alexandra Ioan is the Global Qualitative Research Lead in the Impact and Evidence Team at Ashoka and the co-founder and head of the Ashoka Learning and Action Center. She holds a PhD in Governance from the Hertie School in Berlin, Germany, and has extensive applied research and program management expertise in civil society organizations worldwide.

Veronica Chiodo, Politecnico di Milano School of Management

Veronica Chiodo is a Junior Assistant Professor at the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano.  She is a senior researcher in the TIRESIA Research Centre, working on several projects awarded by the European Commission and consulting with social enterprises and social funders.




How to Cite

Ioan, A., & Chiodo, V. (2022). The Resilience of Ashoka Fellows During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Social Innovations Journal, 11(1). Retrieved from