Ashoka: Innovators For The Public - History


Ashoka was founded in 1981 by Bill Drayton, who has been called "the godfather of social entrepreneurship" by David Gergen. Ashoka began with an annual budget of $50,000, and elected its first Fellow in India in 1981. During its first decade, Ashoka focused exclusively on finding and investing in leading social entrepreneurs in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Central Europe. During the 1990s, Ashoka expanded its services beyond directly supporting fellows. Today, Ashoka has an annual revenue of nearly $30 million, and has expanded into North America, Western Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East.

The foundation is named after the Indian Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Dynasty who bloodily conquered almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC, before having an Ashoka#Buddhist_conversion he had caused. He then became a devotee of ahimsa (nonviolence), love, truth, tolerance and vegetarianism and is remembered in history as a philanthropic administrator.

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