Markus Raivio


Markus Raivio, a pioneer in mental health work and co-founder of mental health organization Kukunori, becomes the first Finnish member of Ashoka’s global fellowship with nearly 4000 entrepreneurs in over 90 countries. The world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs includes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus and founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales.

The first Finn to join an international network promoting social innovations

Among other things, Raivio, who has come up with ideas for cultural workshops that support the resources of mental health professionals, was elected as a Fellow due to the systemic change he has been able to achieve in the field of mental health care in Finland.

The Ashoka Fellow selection process is a rigorous, highly refined process in which an applicant’s background and accomplishments are evaluated using a variety of criteria: a big new idea that results in social impact, entrepreneurial qualities, and ethical fibre. The network seeks out real agents of change that have developed innovative new ideas to change society’s systems and improve the lives of millions of people.

The model of functional peer support paves the way for the world’s leading social entrepreneurs

Raivio's pioneering work in solving mental health challenges caught the attention of the international electoral panel. In particular, the cultural workshop model and the functional peer support used in it were seen as an interesting opening in the field of mental health.

“The solutions devised by Markus Raivio focus on strengthening the skills of people facing mental health challenges from their own strengths, increasing their agency to improve their own wellbeing. These solutions emphasize the change in traditional power dynamics, where people come to the center instead of the problem.” commented Marie Ringler, Ashoka Europe's director who flew to Finland to meet Raivio before Christmas.

The choice of the network will bring Finnish social innovations to the international arena

The entry of a Finn into Ashoka's network with its investors is a big leap forward for the international arena of social innovations and the expansion of doing good across Finnish borders. The network also brings together various organizations to support selected individuals. In the Nordic countries, Ashoka Fellowship partners include Accenture, Antrop, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and Sitra.

“This is a strong thing for me, for the development of mental health work and why not for the whole of Finland! It feels good that entrepreneurship, which does not have the main purpose of maximizing the profits of the owners, can also be valued”, Raivio celebrates.

Choosing a network, however, is just a starting shot for the work ahead.

“Finland has a lot of great and innovative know-how and ideas that people around the world could benefit from. Our innovations in many different areas of society solve challenging global problems. We should be able to better expound this know-how, scale it and actively take things to the world. To make this possible you need to face the right people, ideas and factors. Here, international networks are paramount.”

“It is important to highlight how valued Finnish mental health work and our social innovations are in the world. This is also good to recognize in Finland. It is also important to raise social innovation as an export product alongside technological innovation. Now is just the time for all of us Finns to boldly bring out our own know-how and ideas internationally and build a better world together with others.”, Raivio concludes.

Markus Raivio joins the fellowship of more than 3800 members in over 90 countries. In addition to unlocking access to a global peer network, the fellowship provides its members with financial support, global knowledge programs and other opportunities with industry experts and Ashoka’s partner organizations such as IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and Accenture.

“I am honoured by this acknowledgement and will continue my work in the mental health sector. My goal is to keep introducing the field with humane practices that appreciate patients’ role as experts by experience and agency in their own lives and healing. I believe that the GFP model can be widely scaled in Finland, and exported abroad.” says Markus Raivio.

More information about Markus Raivio

Markus Raivio (1973) is a long-standing mental health professional, organizational leader and social entrepreneur. He has been a key player in the development of many social innovations in the social and health sectors, such as the Cultural Workshop Model (GFP), Kukunori, Missio Propellipäiden and the evaluation tool POKKA. Raivio is currently the executive director of Kukunori ry and has published the book “Recovering Mind - A Guide to Recovery Orientation”.

About Ashoka Fellowship

Ashoka identifies and supports nearly 4000 leading social entrepreneurs in over 90 countries, including Muhammad Yunus (winner of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize), Kailash Satyarthi (2014 Nobel Peace Prize Winner and child’s rights activist) and the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales.

In the Nordics, Ashoka is the first independent and system-oriented organization, finding and cultivating social entrepreneurs whose social innovations solve deep-rooted social challenges. Since its founding in 1981, Ashoka has drawn on the insights and patterns of the social innovation field to better understand what the future needs and how to create new solutions for building a better world.

Learn more about Ashoka here.