Zalando and Ashoka partner up in response to coronavirus

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As a response to the coronavirus crisis, ​Ashoka​ and Zalando will scout and identify 50 social entrepreneurs working on projects specifically targeting the current challenges. The chosen project teams will receive additional support from Zalando employees who will invest their time and knowledge into the projects. The kind of support will be tailored to each individual project and will focus on scaling the solutions globally. Furthermore, Zalando will highlight 30 examples on its channels to inspire further positive changes.

Ashoka​, a longtime partner of Zalando, connects social entrepreneurs around the world to scale innovative social ideas and projects. Ashoka identifies and supports the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, learns from their experiences and innovations, and mobilizes a global community of changemakers to embrace the new concepts.

With EasyPeasy, Ashoka Fellow Jen Lexmond from the UK empowers parents to embrace their changemaking skills as their children’s first teachers. They have made their product free to use until May 31 to support families in the coronavirus crisis.

Another example of the enterprises joining the Ashoka network is ​Coronavirus Makers​, founded and managed by David Cuartielles and César García. The company builds life-saving equipment through open-source innovation in Spain. They are experimenting, prototyping and printing designs on 3-D printers from their living rooms and basements. Over 10,000 makers in Spain’s DIY community are connecting online at Coronavirus Makers to produce masks, ventilators and cubicles for hospitals.

Heiny: making a change

“We decided to partner with Ashoka again as a response to the current pandemic. Their organisation, just like ours, is based on a startup spirit, entrepreneurship and innovation. Making a change requires us to engage with our community to find new solutions. We are committed to supporting innovative organisations to fight the crisis and to investing into those communities by volunteering our time, expertise and connections,” says director of sustainability at Zalando, Kate Heiny.

Ashoka envisions a world in which all citizens are powerful and contribute to change in positive ways. We have identified and supported almost 4,000 social entrepreneurs with system-changing ideas. Their major asset is their ability to help large groups of people take on new roles as contributors to society. Today more than ever, citizens are demonstrating their longing for purpose and their ability to create change. We want to continue to support them. Changemaking is on the rise, our role is to ensure everyone sees their potential to contribute,” says Marie Ringler, director of Ashoka Europe.

Ashoka and Zalando first joined forces in the 2016 refugee crisis by organizing the ​Hello Festival in Berlin. The festival brought together international problem solvers and local experts to distribute the world’s best integration solutions resulting in, among other things, access to free online university education and the transformation of refugee shelters into sustainable and innovative ecosystems.

Zalando also offers immediate relief and support by providing digital volunteering opportunities for its employees via the platform ​Vostel​. Further, Zalando will send “Boxes of Joy” to refugee children and adolescents in Berlin, containing fashion pieces in order to make their time in quarantine less boring. The joint project with Ashoka is expected to run from April until October 2020 and responds to both short and long-term issues resulting from the coronavirus.