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Our Journey so far

Our Journey so far

The idea to create the Ashoka Visionary Program was born out of our work with Ashoka Fellows – our core business. There we saw a strong need to convey more structured skills and know-how on how to solve societal problems in an entrepreneurial way. The first challenge was to find the concepts, methodologies, and tools that Ashoka had developed in nearly 40 years in working with Social Entrepreneurs everywhere in the Ashoka universe.

We wanted to go beyond our work with Social Entrepreneurs and Ashoka Fellows. We wanted to align with our vision of everyone a changemaker. So we opened this program to decision makers and executives of all sectors with the aim to break down the silos between the public and the private, between the NGO and welfare organizations.

And last but not least, we wanted to walk the talk and create what we always expect from our Fellows and Social Entrepreneurs. To build a social business, a project that is sustainable through independent funding.


It was a pioneering project, also for the world of Ashoka. At the beginning, we did not know if we would succeed. Only when the first person said that he would want to join, we realized that we created something that has the potential to equip people from all sectors with the necessary know-how and skills to implement solutions for societal problems.

Our first participant was Stefan Dertnig, founder of BCG Russia, Director DD Management & Advisory GmbH. From that moment onwards we became more self-confident and managed to put together a cohort of 22 groundbreaking changemakers – our first Visionaries.

Today we already started the fifth Visionary Program in CEE and will be scaling to the Mediterranean region as well as East Africa. The program has become a platform for our partners and us to create social innovation for the common good. We are proud of this development and are happy to share with you some of the successes on the following pages.


“At Ashoka, we strive for an EACH vision, everyone a changemaker. We somehow need to learn how to solve societal problems at grassroots level in an entrepreneurial way.” – Georg Schön, Founder of Visionary Program

Since 2014 Georg has served as Country Director of Ashoka Austria. His entrepreneurial spirit previously led him to create an organization for the development of socio-economic projects in Mexico. He developed a program of study for social entrepreneurs in Austria and founded a consulting firm specializing in environment and development.

Georg soon realized that Ashoka needs to bring the knowledge and spirit of this EACH vision into organizations and society as such. He created a tool, an accelerator of social change that made this happen – the Visionary Program. Of course, it needs the right people who stand behind the idea and who share this common vision. It needed someone who has a very sound understanding of the Social Entrepreneurship sector and the topics connected with scaling impact.

Since 2014 Raphaela has developed the Ashoka Visionary Program. In her previous roles, she served as a business consultant until she went on to assist in the creation of the Business School of the University of Vienna (WU Executive Academy). Politically interested, she very early developed a passion for improving societies for the better. Through her expertise in leading programs in business development and scaling organizations, she was thrilled to hear from an emerging leadership program in Ashoka.