Ashoka Philippines: A Call for Changemakers
By Michaela Villaroman
Innovation has always been the catalyst for change and development. It has led to advancements that the world benefits from and relies on for progress.
This is why the necessity to innovate should be given much importance. It must be prioritized because ingenuity generates effective solutions and fresh ideas for society’s growth.
Moving forward simply beckons for more innovation.
However, as an innovator, it isn’t enough to merely have game changing ideas. Innovators require a support system to truly get things done. With the right funding and the right people working with them, innovators are bound to be successful in their present and future endeavors.
This is where Ashoka enters the picture.
The global non-profit organization aims to support individuals who are set to make a positive impact on the world through their ground-breaking concepts. Equipped with a strong vision for change, Ashoka aims to empower people who are capable of transforming the world.
Terri Jayme-Mora is the Country Manager of Ashoka Philippines. She’s been working with Ashoka since 2004, continuously helping the organization achieve the changemaking culture it hopes to create.
Before becoming involved with the organization though, Terri had different plans. She grew up in the Philippines but went to the US as a scholar for college. After finishing her Political Science degree at Wesleyan University, she had her heart set on becoming involved with conflict resolution back in the Philippines. Specifically, she wanted to help work on the issues in Mindanao.
Terri decided that gaining some work experience first before heading home would be a good idea. So, she looked for a job in Washington and, eventually, she found Ashoka.
“I feel very lucky,” Terri said. She applied as an intern but ended up staying much longer. It was clear that the appeal of Ashoka was that its vision was in line with her own advocacies. Terri mentioned that she stayed because she understood the need and value of supporting social innovators.
After working at the head office for some time, she was given a chance to take Ashoka to the Philippines in 2006. A partnership with Ateneo helped establish the organization in the country.
Initially, the organization hired a country representative to manage Ashoka Philippines while Terri moved to Singapore to help with Ashoka’s efforts there. “I took a break. I lived in Singapore for 3 years and then, I moved to London to do an MBA for 2 years. When I moved back to the Philippines in 2013, I decided to join fulltime as the Country Manager,” she narrated.
The rest was history.
She has been working closely with Ashoka Philippines ever since, consistently improving and managing the organization’s growing impact on the country.
ABOUT ASHOKA PHILIPPINES
The organization was named after the Indian emperor Ashoka, a good historical example of a social innovator.
Since the organization’s main purpose is to develop a changemaking culture, looking for social innovators and helping them reach their full potential is one of its important functions.
The Ashoka Fellowship is the organization’s core program. “Ashoka found that the best way to promote this culture is by finding who are the best role models for changemaking,” Terri said, “We’re looking for people who have proof of concept, people who just need that extra level of support.”
The lifetime fellowship provides Ashoka Fellows with enough support to help with their projects and also gives them access to the vast network of other Ashoka Fellows who they could collaborate and partner with.
When it comes to the organization’s perspective on problem solving, Terri likens it to how people view traffic problems. “If you ask someone what causes traffic, there are five different other problems that they would mention,” she explained, “So it’s a web of problems. Ashoka is trying to build the web of solutions.”
The organization operates on a large scale. Instead of focusing on one specific issue area, Ashoka aims to look from a farther standpoint, dealing with problems more effectively.
THE FUTURE OF ASHOKA
Ashoka has big plans on making a significant impact on the world.
And these plans require dedicated social entrepreneurs to push for innovation and long term change. Terri explained, “For Ashoka, a social entrepreneur is a creative and committed person who is able to harness limited resources to build innovative solutions to social problems.”
Ashoka looks forward to bringing more passionate thinkers together, making an amazing change in society as an organization. It’s already well on its way to achieving that.