New Fellow Selection


by Al Etmanski

We have been inventing ways to help each other since the first people began living on this land. We would not have survived, let alone thrived without each generation’s creativity and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. All our small and big innovations have made us into a caring country. Not perfect but always determined to make it better.

Ashoka Canada excels at spotting people with ideas that have the potential to advance social, economic and environmental justice. Their rigorous New Fellow selection process increases the odds that individual innovations will generate large-scale, collective advances. Rhetoric and cliché are replaced with clear messages that capture the imagination. Hunches and best guesses are discarded in favour of evidence. Strategy is informed by the cultural determinants of change. A focus on short-term success is tempered with a strategy for long-term impact. The result? Canada becomes better, faster.

I know all this because it happened to me when I became one of Ashoka’s first Canadian Fellows. I’ve watched a similar discipline enhance and transform the changemaking talents of other Fellows. It’s a makeover that benefits from the accomplishments of Ashoka’s global network of social entrepreneurs.

Al Etmanski

Co-Founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN)

Author & Speaker

One of Ashoka Canada’s first fellows.

That is why I continue to support Ashoka and participate in its selection panels. There is no better way to support the next generation of social inventors as they tackle our toughest social challenges.”


A transformative and enlightening experience where candidates articulate their innovations and strategies for systemic change.

Ashoka’s network evaluates applicants’ motivations, methods and potential to become a new member of Ashoka’s global fellowship. The process expands the imagination, sharpens ideas for impact and creates space for a journey of self-discovery and growth.

Ashoka’s selection process is anchored by our five criteria:

A New Idea

Disruptive solution or approach to a social problem that will change the pattern in a field. A truly transformational innovation, not a tweak to the status quo.


Problem solvers capable of engineering their visions into reality

Entrepreneurial Quality

Willing to grapple relentlessly with many practical “how to” challenges

Social Impact of the Idea

Needs to be sufficiently new, practical and useful for people working in the field to adopt it and turn it into the new norm sector wide

Ethical Fibre

Trusted and inspiring across different stakeholder groups to deliver major structural changes to society

Ashoka Fellows report that Ashoka helped increase their impact


Ashoka Fellows improved market systems


Ashoka Fellows influence societal mindsets and shift cultural norms

Source: 2018 Global Ashoka Fellow Study Results


Ashoka’s Globalizer Program amplifies the work of Fellows who are ready to scale globally.

Drawing on the strategic expertise of Ashoka’s international network of changemakers across the business, government and citizen sectors, Globalizer helps Fellows accelerate and deepen their impact.

Highlights from the Network

“If we don’t all win, we all lose”

Be inspired by the vision and achievements of Ashoka’s 2018 Fellows and the emerging insights that have developed globally.

Leading Social Entrepreneurs

Did you know that five years after election, 76% of Ashoka Fellows have change the pattern in their field at the national level? Read about the staggering achievements of recently elected Ashoka Fellows.

The Unlonely Planet

Read the results of Ashoka’s 2018 Global Fellows Study — the largest global study of systems change in social entrepreneurship to date — to learn how our Fellows accelerate impact.

Accelerate Canada’s highest-impact network of social entrepreneurs

“With all the pressing societal and environmental issues we are facing, the world needs to foster and support more social entrepreneurs who devote their lives and careers to finding scalable solutions. Ashoka has an impressive long-term track record of doing just that, which is why I am happy to lend my support.

Bill Young, Social Capital Partners