Ashoka Changemakers' Week: A Look Back

Submitted on Fri, August 5, 2011

A month ago, over 1,000 social entrepreneurs gathered in Paris to discuss the fate of the world; we are just beginning to understand its impact.

Ashoka Changemakers’ Week (ACW), a seven-day event for social entrepreneurs, was designed to foster collaboration and the advancement of big ideas. The event was held in two parts: Changemakers’ City, held June 16 through 19, and Changemakers’ Campus, held June 21 and 22.

The three-day Changemakers’ Campus exhibition invited participants to attend workshops, debates, and brainstorming sessions around Paris to learn more about groundbreaking business models and the power of social innovation.

Changemakers’ City challenged 1,000 social innovators to imagine the future of Europe with a stronger sector infrastructure and to ramp up positive actions through key alliances. Presentations shared cutting-edge strategies currently making a difference in a dozen fields including energy, sustainable agriculture, education, and affordable housing.

The connections built at ACW – between Fellows and across silos – played a major role in strengthening both online partnership and the sense of belonging in a global community making positive change.

“For me, it was a real initiation,” said Joscha Lautner, founding member of the Leading Changemaker Think & Do Tank in Germany. “I personally knew Fellows and I experienced what they do. I personally shadowed some of them at work. I was part of a team of co-creators bringing the German Think & Do Tank to Europe; I thought I knew what it meant to be part of a powerful group of willful people. But I could not imagine the effect this community of like-minded people could have on me.
“Being able to talk with experts from various fields was an eye-opening gift in many ways. It showed me that Ashoka really gives us, the youth, time and space to present ourselves, our ideas, projects, skills and value to the community … But for me personally, the most important point is that I feel taken seriously in my wish and will to create my own social enterprise one day.”
Learn more about the experience: Read our online magazine about Ashoka’s 30th anniversary, finalized with help from our storyteller-in-residence, Jenny Hoff. The magazine combines the sights and sounds from ACW in Paris in a neat online reading app — it’s definitely worth a look.

You can also find out what it takes to build a successful social enterprise, according to some Changemakers’ Week attendees, in the video below (courtesy of Social Enterprise Live):

Ashoka Changemakers Conference 2011 from Social Enterprise Live on Vimeo.

By John Converse Townsend, Ashoka Changemakers contributor