The Selection Criteria

Ashoka’s value, especially as a Fellowship, depends on electing only the world’s leading social entrepreneurs.

In reviewing potential candidates, Ashoka applies one initial knockout test, considering, is this a new idea? Four additional criteria then follow: creativity, entrepreneurial quality, social impact, and ethical fibre.

The New Idea

Ashoka elects individuals who possess a system-changing new idea, an innovative solution to a social problem that will change the pattern in a field at least at regional or national level.


Ashoka supports entrepreneurs who are sufficiently creative as both goal-setting visionaries and problem solvers.

Entrepreneurial Quality

Ashoka looks for the tiny number of people who are first-class entrepreneurs — people who, at their core, are driven by a vision, and who will persevere in testing, refining and spreading their idea until it has become the new pattern for society as a whole.

Social Impact

The entrepreneur’s idea must be powerful enough in its approach and applicability for practitioners in the field to want to copy it. That is, the idea must be replicable on its own merits.

Ethical Fibre

The candidate must be entirely ethical and trustworthy. Ashoka asks every participant in the selection process to evaluate each candidate for this quality rigorously.