Ashoka Ireland Quarterly - Autumn 2017



2017 has been a busy year for Ashoka Ireland. It is a significant one too, as it marks our 10th anniversary. We have many new projects in the works for the final months of this seminal year, so watch this space.

In the meantime, please enjoy reading about our Summer & Autumn updates below.

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Billed as “a unique international festival of technology, science, design and the arts,” Inspirefest is an annual STEM and arts-focused festival that champions diversity and inclusion in a sector that is famously scant on those values. For the second year in a row, Ashoka Fellows joined the impressive line-up of speakers: global Fellows Matt Flannery and Bart Weetjens highlight the intersection of social innovation and STEM.

Matt talked about his journey to founding the microfinance nonprofit Kiva, and the digital loaning platform Branch, both of which serve entrepreneurs in developing countries. His three main lessons: work in the field first, do what you love, and get started fast. Bart Weetjens, whose Tanzania-based organisation, APOPO, trains African giant pouched rats to detect landmines in post-conflict areas, and to sniff out tuberculosis infections in health centres, spoke about the importance of innovative thinking in solving global health challenges. Bart’s talk included video clips showing how the rats are trained by experts, and revealed that more than 900,000 landmines and 82,000 TB infections have been detected by APOPO since 2000.

Read our blog post reflecting on Dublin's most inspiring annual festival.

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On October 3rd, we formally welcomed three new Changemaker Schools – Tarmon National School (Co. Roscommon), Scoil Bhríde Shantalla (Co. Galway) and Dalkey School Project National School (Co. Dublin).

The evening, hosted generously by Ashoka Support Network members Paul and Therese Sullivan in their home, brought together the Irish Changemaker Schools network and education leaders from across the country. It was a wholehearted welcome for the new principals, with many inspirational speeches given from our Changemaker Schools principals, ASN member Paul Sullivan, and Brian MacCraith (President of DCU).

See below some of our photos from the evening, and be sure to keep an eye open for the next Changemaker Schools newsletter in November!

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Last weekend, from the 6th to the 8th of October, we hosted our 4th Annual Community Retreat – a gathering of our Fellows, Ashoka Support Network members, Advisors, and the Irish team – on the gorgeous grounds of Burrishoole, Co. Mayo.

The few days consisted of peer circles, workshops and problem solving sessions, really putting to work the collective experience of everyone in the room.

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The retreat was made extra special by our walks through the beautiful landscapes, the fabulous food and warming fireside discussions, not to mention the great company.

Our heartfelt thank you to ASN member Denis Tinsley for hosting our Retreat for the fourth time.

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On 21st August, Ashoka Fellow Caroline Casey, founder of Binc, launched #Valuable, a campaign to activate the business community to tackle disability exclusion around the world.

According to Binc, there are an estimated one billion people on the planet living with a disability, but their value is routinely ignored by business. That is the equivalent to disregarding a potential market the size of US, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan – combined.

By raising awareness about the issue, #Valuable aims to:

  • Encourage 500 businesses around the world to commit to putting the one billion people living with a disability on their boardroom agenda
  • Identify 10 game-changing business leaders to stand for the one billion and champion the issue of disability in business around the world
  • Bring together 10 inspirational young #valuable ambassadors to call on the businesses they work for and the brands they buy from to put this issue on their board agenda
  • Ignite a global conversation about a world where everyone is valued equally

Caroline spoke to Fiona Koch in an interview on Forbes, titled An Epic Adventure (On Horseback) Shows That Disability Is Everyone's Business: "People affected by disability are customers, suppliers, talent and members of the community. That’s a huge population – it's also a huge market, with an estimated combined income of 8 trillion dollars!" she explained.

"Business is the most powerful force on the planet. If companies start to include people with disabilities more systematically, then the rest of society will follow. So if we can work together with companies that recognize the value of this population, we have an opportunity to change the issue of exclusion."

To find out more, and to see how you can get involved, follow the #Valuable Twitter hashtag, or visit One Young World's #Valuable Influencer page:

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GROW HQ, founded by Ashoka Fellow Mick Kelly as a national food education centre in Waterford, has been open for nearly 10 months now. They have had an incredibly busy, award-winning and impactful year and have quickly established GROW HQ as a ground-breaking urban centre for home-grown food.

"We’re getting ourselves ready for the opportunities that will arise from our brand new 7-part TV series (called GROW COOK EAT) which is currently being filmed at HQ and will be aired on national TV in the spring. Key to this will be the further development of the site at HQ, completing the landscaping of the site and new infrastructure additions to give us more options for hosting training and events.

To fund this work we’re undertaking a new GROW Circle funding round and we’re looking for companies and people to make a social impact investment of €10,000 in GROW HQ. What’s in it for them?

  • For personal investors - in return for a minimum €10k investment, a 5% financial return each year and your money back in year 5, and the knowledge that you’re helping us to drive social change in your community and society.
  • For companies - in return for a minimum €10k investment over 2 years, we will help your employees to get healthy and happy, showing them how to grow and cook their own food either in the workplace or at GROW HQ.

The GROW Circle supports the ongoing development of GIY, ensuring we can deliver ground-breaking, innovative food empathy programmes that inspire people to grow some of their own food as a path to a healthier life. In return, we support these companies to deliver their key HR, CSR and PR objectives and promote wellbeing for their employees, their workplace and their community. Current members of the GROW Circle include Three Mobile, Aramark, Genzyme, Ballymaloe Cookery School, AIB, Miele, Renault and Supervalu. The fee for a 2 year membership of the GROW Circle is €10,000 (€5,000 per annum).

“We are delighted to support the important work that GIY is doing in reconnecting people with food. At the same time, the wellbeing of our employees is hugely important to us, and we had a brilliant day there this year with 40 of our site managers,” said Jo Coffey, Marketing Manager at Applegreen.

If you are interested in joining the GROW Circle and being part of the next exciting stage of the GROW HQ story, please contact Karen O’Donohoe or Mick Kelly on 051 584 411 or email

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This is the autumn issue of the Ashoka Ireland quarterly newsletter. Feel free to share the link widely! Email Moira: with photos, videos and announcements to be featured in the next quarterly, planned for this spring.

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