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The launch of Changemakers United: New challenges need new solutions!


by Pavlína Hořejšová

When Covid-19 hit Europe, there undoubtedly was a moment of uncertainty, fear and confusion. The consequences of the disease itself, the lockdown and the profoundness of the crisis could not have been foreseen. Step by step it became clearer: There were many direct effects and a multitude of side effects that this crisis revealed, putting many people across the globe in very vulnerable positions.  

Then Ashoka and Zalando partnered together in response to the coronavirus crisis. On April 14th, 2020 Ashoka and Zalando announced their joint European initiative “Changemakers United,” a collective effort to fight the short and long-term effects of the pandemic. 

The goal of the initiative: Scaling the impact of social innovations in Europe 

Through its large network of leading social entrepreneurs, Ashoka would search for the most promising and impactful solutions against Covid-19 in Europe. The plan was to identify 50 social entrepreneurs (“Ashoka Fellows”) in the first phase of the project, as they were working on projects specifically targeting the challenges connected to Covid-19 (find more about these 50 social innovators here). Of the chosen social innovators, 20 of would be selected for the second part of the project to participate in the Changemakers United accelerator program, receiving additional support with the aim of scaling the impact of their social innovations.  Find out more about them here.  

Support by Zalando, founding partner of Changemakers United 

Zalando, who has been a longtime partner of Ashoka, would not only offer financial support but also direct support from its employees who were to invest their time and knowledge into the projects. “We decided to partner with Ashoka again as a response to the current pandemic. Their organization, just like ours, is based on a startup spirit, entrepreneurship and innovation. Making a change requires us to engage with our community to find new solutions. We are committed to supporting innovative organizations to fight the crisis and to investing into those communities by volunteering our time, expertise and connections”, says Director of Sustainability at Zalando, KateHeiny.  

Because: Everyone A Changemaker!  

Furthermore, Ashoka and Zalando committed to highlighting the 20 social innovators in their communication efforts to further inspire positive change. The belief behind this can be summed up in this sentence – the vision statement of Ashoka: Everyone A Changemaker! “Ashoka envisions a world in which all citizens are powerful and contribute to change in positive ways”, says Marie Ringler, Leader of Ashoka Europe.  

Find out more about the initiative and its milestones here

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