ALEXANDRA MITJANS

We are happy to announce to you Alexandra Mitjans, Director of Ashoka Spain.

 Ashoka is the global reference organization in the field of entrepreneurship and social innovation and considered one of the top 5 NGOs worldwide.

1. Tell us about Ashoka Foundation.

Ashoka is the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs – now with nearly 4,000 Ashoka Fellows in more than 90 countries. Ashoka pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship, established terms like ‘social entrepreneur’ and ‘changemaker,’ and we are lucky enough to be considered the 5th Top Global NGO, according to NGO Advisor!

2. How would you define social entrepreneurship?

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”

I love this definition of a social entrepreneur by Bill Drayton, Ashoka’s Founder and CEO, since it really defines the transformative aspect of a social entrepreneurs. They are obsessed with solving a social or environmental problem, and they will not stop until their solutions are scaled across society.

3. What qualities do you need to be a social entrepreneur?

Social entrepreneurs are well known for their ability to innovate, their creativity, and their collaborative mindset. But above all I think a social entrepreneur always has a bold ethical fiber. They fight for whats right, not whats easy, whether they are defending women’s rights with La Manada case in Spain or working with endangered species in Tanzania, they take up risks and they do not give up easily.

Social entrepreneurs are very connected to their life’s purpose, which is usually to help other find theirs and to make a difference in the world. I think Lizzie, Marta and Damian - Saye’s Founders - are a clear example of what a social entrepreneur is.

4. In your project, you also want to empower young entrepreneurs, what special traits do you find in these young changemakers (as you call them) and why are you interested in giving them a voice?

The Ashoka Young Changemakers is a carefully selected network of young people who have found their power to create change and who are mobilizing other young people in realizing their changemaker potential. We want this to become a viral movement, so I hope our readers can join too!

The reason why we give them voice is because we want to host a global conversation in redefining what it means to be a young person growing up in today’s world.

5. In another interview, you said "The companies of the future will be social or they won't be". Can you elaborate on this? What's your imagination of the future?

Social is concept that no longer belongs exclusively to non profit organizations. We are now experiencing what I can the liquidization of the social concept, which means that now everyone can - and must be - a social contributor. Every organization, institution, public or private, can no longer sell a product or a service without creating a positive impact in their social or environmental surroundings. And its not a matter of goodness, its a matter of survival. According to the last Collabora Brands study, 75% of consumers are not willing to buy products that are harmful for the planet. This if already shifting markets, and mindsets.

1. Tell us about Ashoka Foundation.

Ashoka is the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs – now with nearly 4,000 Ashoka Fellows in more than 90 countries. Ashoka pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship, established terms like ‘social entrepreneur’ and ‘changemaker,’ and we are lucky enough to be considered the 5th Top Global NGO, according to NGO Advisor!

2. How would you define social entrepreneurship?

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”

 I love this definition of a social entrepreneur by Bill Drayton, Ashoka’s Founder and CEO, since it really defines the transformative aspect of a social entrepreneurs. They are obsessed with solving a social or environmental problem, and they will not stop until their solutions are scaled across society.

3. What qualities do you need to be a social entrepreneur?

Social entrepreneurs are well known for their ability to innovate, their creativity, and their collaborative mindset. But above all I think a social entrepreneur always has a bold ethical fiber. They fight for whats right, not whats easy, whether they are defending women’s rights with La Manada case in Spain or working with endangered species in Tanzania, they take up risks and they do not give up easily.

Social entrepreneurs are very connected to their life’s purpose, which is usually to help other find theirs and to make a difference in the world. I think Lizzie, Marta and Damian - Saye’s Founders - are a clear example of what a social entrepreneur is.

4. In your project, you also want to empower young entrepreneurs, what special traits do you find in these young changemakers (as you call them) and why are you interested in giving them a voice?

The Ashoka Young Changemakers is a carefully selected network of young people who have found their power to create change and who are mobilizing other young people in realizing their changemaker potential. We want this to become a viral movement, so I hope our readers can join too!

The reason why we give them voice is because we want to host a global conversation in redefining what it means to be a young person growing up in today’s world.

5. In another interview, you said "The companies of the future will be social or they won't be". Can you elaborate on this? What's your imagination of the future?

Social is concept that no longer belongs exclusively to non profit organizations. We are now experiencing what I can the liquidization of the social concept, which means that now everyone can - and must be - a social contributor. Every organization, institution, public or private, can no longer sell a product or a service without creating a positive impact in their social or environmental surroundings. And its not a matter of goodness, its a matter of survival. According to the last Collabora Brands study, 75% of consumers are not willing to buy products that are harmful for the planet. This if already shifting markets, and mindsets.

6. On a personal level, what inspires you to be part of Ashoka?

I believe the world is better than we think. Through my work at Ashoka, I see how humans are pioneering and implementing real-life solutions and changing the lives of millions around the world. Working for Ashoka is my daily dose of optimism for the future, its a pure selfish act!

7. What projects, people and/or companies are you currently working with that you would like to highlight?

Two of our most recent fellows that we are supporting - and that I absolutely admire - include Gemma Galdon, who is changing the way technology works for minorities, by an innovative algorithmic auditing methodology: Link here

And Fran Diaz, who works to make sure that every child that needs protheses and orhopedic support can turn their disability into a superpower.

8. At what stage is Ashoka right now and what do you hope to achieve in the near future?

Ashoka is really a living encyclopedia of social innovation around the world. The organization first started selecting the ‘elite’ of social entrepreneurship, but the future is working towards what we call an “everyone a changemaker” world: where all people have the confidence and support to solve problems and contribute to the common good. This is truly the democratization of social innovation which to me is terribly exciting.

6. On a personal level, what inspires you to be part of Ashoka?

I believe the world is better than we think. Through my work at Ashoka, I see how humans are pioneering and implementing real-life solutions and changing the lives of millions around the world. Working for Ashoka is my daily dose of optimism for the future, its a pure selfish act!

7. What projects, people and/or companies are you currently working with that you would like to highlight?

Two of our most recent fellows that we are supporting - and that I absolutely admire - include Gemma Galdon, who is changing the way technology works for minorities, by an innovative algorithmic auditing methodology: Link here

And Fran Diaz, who works to make sure that every child that needs protheses and orhopedic support can turn their disability into a superpower.

8. At what stage is Ashoka right now and what do you hope to achieve in the near future?

Ashoka is really a living encyclopedia of social innovation around the world. The organization first started selecting the ‘elite’ of social entrepreneurship, but the future is working towards what we call an “everyone a changemaker” world: where all people have the confidence and support to solve problems and contribute to the common good. This is truly the democratization of social innovation which to me is terribly exciting.

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