Ashoka’s Selection Process and Financial Stipend Create Value Across the Globe


  • Alessandro Valera Ashoka
  • Michael Zakaras Ashoka


social entrepreneurship, financial support, stipend, gender, minority groups, geography, Ashoka


For 40 years now, Ashoka has selected, connected, and supported leading social entrepreneurs around the world. The community of Ashoka Fellows is nearly 4,000 strong—each of whom is chosen through a rigorous selection process. The vast majority of them receive a three-year financial stipend.

As part of Ashoka’s 2021 Global Fellows Study, we wanted to know: what was the selection process experience for our Fellows? Was the financial stipend still helpful? More specifically, was it coming at an especially timely moment, for example, enabling early-stage social entrepreneurs to focus full-time on the development of their ideas? And finally, how did the answers to these questions vary by demographic factors such as geographical location, gender, etc.? Lastly, what lessons should we draw from these variations?

Our survey of 817 Fellows across 81 countries (over 26% of the total population of Ashoka Fellows), together with 32 in-depth interviews, produced a rich data set that underpins our findings. Notably, we learned that a significant majority (91% of respondents) found the selection process valuable in articulating and strengthening their core ideas. We further learned that Ashoka’s stipend continues to be catalytic: even in a more mature global social entrepreneurship field compared to when Ashoka started, nearly half of our respondents (47%) told us that the Ashoka stipend was the first significant source of funding for their ideas.  


Author Biographies

Alessandro Valera, Ashoka

Alessandro Valera is the co-founder of the Impact and Evidence Team at Ashoka and the founder of Ashoka Italy. His background is in education, human rights, social policy and quantitative research.

Michael Zakaras, Ashoka

Michael Zakaras is the Director of Ashoka United States and co-founder of Ashoka’s ‘All America’ initiative to diversify the field of social entrepreneurship. He has a Master's in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.




How to Cite

Valera, A., & Zakaras, M. (2022). Ashoka’s Selection Process and Financial Stipend Create Value Across the Globe. Social Innovations Journal, 11(1). Retrieved from