Ashoka and Zalando Partner Up in Response to the Coronavirus

Ashoka's worldwide network of social entrepreneurs to scale solutions for the coronavirus

The joint project is planned to run from April to October 2020 to react to the short and the long-term effects of the pandemic.

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 change makers to embrace the new concepts.


As a response to the coronavirus crisis, Ashoka will scout and identify 50 social entrepreneurs working on projects specifically targeting the current challenges. Of the chosen projects, 20 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 the 20 examples on its channels to inspire further positive changes.


One 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.



“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.

Marie Ringler, Director Ashoka Europe
Kate Heiny, Director of Sustainability at Zalando



“We decided to partner with Ashoka again as a response to the current pandemic. Their organization, 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 organizations 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 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. Read more about the initiatives Zalando is supporting here. 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.

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