WorldWISE Storytelling Project

Our Goals:

The WorldWISE Storytelling Project is a global storytelling initiative that aims to recognize and elevate the power of female social entrepreneurs through impact stories. The main goals are:

1. To celebrate the unique ways in which women successfully lead and make an impact by showcasing 200 stories of women and girls from around the world about the various issues they are tackling.

2. To instigate a paradigm shift to redefine success and impact for the whole innovation ecosystem.

Within the social entrepreneurship ecosystem, most organizations allocate funding and support toward projects that scale out – initiatives that span wide regions and accrue large revenues. Frameworks for measuring the impact of projects that change laws and policies and shift mindsets, patterns of behavior, and social norms – impact we call “scaling up” and “scaling deep” – have not been developed within the sector. This is particularly detrimental to women, as female innovators are consistently found to scale up and deep in addition to scaling out in their work.

This project explores the ways women leaders do all three – scaling up, out, and deep – changing laws and policies, shifting cultures and values, and replicating across countries and communities to affect more beneficiaries.

Through interviews conducted with over 200 female social entrepreneurs from across the globe, the WorldWISE Storytelling Project will raise awareness about the power of women innovators and the impact they lead. In this way, we will advance these ideas, expanding definitions of changemaking and recruiting more women and girls to our movement.

Storytelling has a long and powerful history within the social sector – as a means for inspiring, educating, and challenging pre-existing narratives within the social innovation ecosystem. Ashoka also frequently uses storytelling as a tool for shifting dialogues and changing mindsets. The WorldWISE Storytelling Project aims to build on this tradition, creating a digital space for sharing previously untold stories of women innovators scaling up, out, and deep.

Positioned within the Global South, we also possess insights into the specific challenges women face in scaling their work and gaining recognition and see the urgent need for their stories to be told. We plan to galvanize our wide network and use our insights accrued from over 30 years of work within the sector to tell these women’s stories and create the space for their work and impact to be understood and celebrated.

The Women's Initiative for Social Entrepreneurship (WISE)

The WorldWISE Storytelling Project is one of the many programs under the umbrella of The Women’s Initiative for Social Entrepreneurship (WISE). WISE is a global initiative that aims to elevate the number, power, and knowledge of female entrepreneurs by running programming to elect more female Fellows and offering funding opportunities.

Currently, only 38% of Ashoka Fellows are women. To achieve at least a 50% share, Ashoka Arab World launched Global WISE Panels, a new venture team that works across borders to identify and elect women leaders as Fellows thus far electing 18 female Fellow from 14 countries.

To elevate the power of female entrepreneurs, annual Collaboration Funds are offered to our global network of female Fellows. Such grants encourage co-creation to launch dynamic projects and solve pressing issues.

The WISE movement is led by Ashoka Arab World’s Regional Director and Vice President of Ashoka Global, Iman Bibars. This global initiative was born out of an international gathering of 10 Fellows in Egypt in 2011 to identify avenues for collaboration and advancing the work of female social entrepreneurs.

In October 2018, Ashoka Arab World played a key role in organizing the soft launch of WISE in San Francisco, convening three Fellows from the United States and international partners for a dialogue on the challenges women innovators face and a discussion on how they overcome these obstacles.

As a precursor scaling deep impact the WorldWISE storytelling project, “She Can” was released in March 2020 during International Women’s Month. In She Can, we spotlighted 18 Fellows from 6 regions around the world leading to scaling deep impact. The booklet can be viewed here.

Aside from the WorldWISE Storytelling Initiative, we have held online events around WISE including our 2020 WISE Up Series and 2021 Get WISER Summit, with over 13,000 registered attendees and 110 speakers combined. You can review our 2020 report on the WISE Up Series here and our Get WISER Report here.

By redefining success, we aim to better enable an EACH (Everyone A Changemaker) world, empowering women and girls as leaders and changemakers.

Ashoka Arab World

Since 2003, Ashoka Arab World has pioneered the platform for social entrepreneurship across the Arab region, identifying and selecting the region’s leading social entrepreneurs across 12 countries. From establishing the first terminology for social entrepreneurship in Arabic to hosting the first international summits on social entrepreneurship in the Arab world and serving on the boards of emerging local and regional organizations with social entrepreneurship-oriented programs, 

Ashoka Arab World has paved the way for a formal and flourishing social entrepreneurship sector in the region.

Moreover, Ashoka Arab World leads the charge to raise and educate new generations of changemakers among the region’s children and youth. Through leveraging the innovations of our Fellows who co-lead this movement with us, we work with schools, teachers, parents, Boards of Education, government, and media to transform the way young people are prepared for a rapidly-evolving world.