Are the people at Ashoka University friendly?

Marie Ringler is something of a system changer and innovation player: a woman who has courageously and visionarily committed to social change. With Ashoka, a global network for social entrepreneurs, she connects and accompanies people who contribute to solving social problems and shape positive change for the good of all. Discovering hands is also a project that has developed innovative and system-changing approaches to solving social problems. That is why discovering hands is also accompanied by Ashoka on the way to achieve the desired social impact. We meet Marie Ringler on a spring morning in May and feel inspired by an emphatic and determined woman who brought Ashoka to Austria in 2010.

Editorial staff: Ashoka aims to promote social entrepreneurs around the world. What is it that fascinates you personally about this idea?

Marie Ringler: We live in a world with incredible challenges. We therefore also need a lot of people to solve these problems. That is exactly what Ashoka and discovering hands founder Frank Hoffmann do.

And that is also our vision at Ashoka, namely a society in which each and every individual can contribute to solving social problems and shape positive change. Everyone should have the opportunity to be a changemaker.

Editorial staff: You have already experienced a lot in your professional career. Do you also have your own social entrepreneurial story?

Marie Ringler: Absolutely. I brought Ashoka to Austria and built it up here, and that was my social entrepreneurial commitment. Much of what I did before can be put in the “social entrepreneurship drawer”.

Editorial staff: How did you come to Ashoka?

Marie Ringler: I first stumbled upon Ashoka 15 years ago, but then did a lot of other things in the meantime. In the course of my MBA, however, I came back to Ashoka through a Harvard case from one of our Ashoka Fellows from Denmark (Thorkil Sonne), who brings people with autism into the job market with their strengths. So I thought: “Wow! That's great. I want to do that. "

Editorial staff: What do you think defines a successful social enterprise?

Marie Ringler: Successful social entrepreneurs primarily focus on the impact. You are passionate about bringing the solution to the problem to the world. This passion is what makes them so successful.

Editorial staff: discovering hands is one of the projects that made it through the tough selection process and was therefore supported and promoted by Ashoka. Could you please briefly describe such a selection process and explain why discovering hands was ultimately chosen?

Marie Ringler: It is important to mention that Frank Hoffmann, the founder of discovering hands, was selected as an Ashoka Fellow in Germany. Ashoka does not support companies, but the founding personalities themselves. This means that discovering hands Austria is practically part of it.

The selection process is a globally standardized process that was and is the same for all Ashoka Fellows in 90 countries. It is based on five criteria. Is it an innovative, system-changing idea that is new across the region? Has the effect of this idea been proven so far that you can see that it will really solve the problem by changing the system? And then we have three more essential criteria that affect the personality of the founder: Is it an outstanding entrepreneurial personality who recognizes opportunities, overcomes risks and is passionately committed to making an impact? Is this person creative - is they able to overcome the hurdles well? And is it 100% ethical?

The selection process is then very intensive and runs over several international stages. Local country teams ideally find these social entrepreneurs, hold many discussions, have intensive discussions about solutions, and do a lot of checks. Only then do they propose the candidate for the international selection process. Then there are three more levels up to our global board. This process takes anywhere from six months to two years.

Editorial staff: How many social enterprises does Ashoka support in Austria?

Marie Ringler: Ashoka currently supports nine social enterprises in Austria. We have around 600 across Europe.

Editorial staff: You personally support discovering hands as an ambassador. Why is the initiative close to your heart?

Marie Ringler: discovering hands ingeniously solves two problems at the same time: On the one hand, improving the quality of the preventive care for me as a patient. On the other hand, we as a society also reverse what is a strength or what is a weakness. Suddenly it becomes apparent through discovering hands that people with a disability can do something better than me. This is an essential lever that is used in the head.

Editorial staff: You also took part in the ongoing study and underwent a breast examination by an MTU. How did you experience the investigation?

Marie Ringler: These examinations are always a bit uncomfortable. You go to the doctor, but you don't want to go there because you're afraid of bad news. But I always found this examination by an MTU to be extremely pleasant, relaxing and friendly. I always felt very comfortable and had nice conversations with the tactile examiners. Someone takes time for a topic and an investigation that may be of vital importance to me.

Editorial staff: Woman to woman: would you recommend such a test to other women? And detached from the effects for visually impaired women and for society on a macroeconomic level: What is the added value for you on a personal level?

Marie Ringler: Yes, definitely. I have already recommended the palpation examination to many! The added value of the investigation? It strengthens your own awareness of breast health issues. The own awareness that this is the main cause of death for women under 40 in our latitudes. You realize that this investigation is very important.

Editorial staff: How do you see the future of discovering hands Austria? What do you wish for the project?

Marie Ringler: It is pretty clear to me that the point is for this offer to be rolled out across Austria and for all women to have the opportunity to benefit from this study.

Editorial staff: Thank you for the interview!

Marie Ringler studied sociology and political science at the University of Vienna and holds an MBA from the University of St. Gallen. After 10 years in politics, she brought Ashoka, the world's largest support network for social entrepreneurs, to Austria.

Editor Vanessa Toth / SuperPR