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The 30 Most Memorable Quotes from the Social Enterprise World Forum 2017

Image source: Nate Kitch

Over 1,300 social entrepreneurs, practitioners, policy makers, community leaders, investors, activists, and academics from around the globe, descended on Christchurch, New Zealand for the Social Enterprise World Forum 2017 (27-29 September). With three days of content, six streams and 50+ sessions and workshops, the frenetic and mesmerising affair of information, insights and debate really packed a punch.

Social Change Central was fortunate enough to have been able to attend (thanks to the incredible Hélène Tholoniat) and used the opportunity to soak up the tips and tricks from speakers and attendees alike. As a form of summary, we’ve compiled some of the most memorable quotes from the Social Enterprise World Forum 2017. After all, why repackage thought leadership when the thought leaders can say it in their own words?

“There’s an ongoing tension between collaboration and competition in the space of social enterprise”.

– Clary Castrission, 40K Group

“We’re the platform, not the protagonist”.

– Flávia Vendramin, Red Bull

“We need an equal measurement of social and commercial returns: we can’t sacrifice one or the other”.

– Royston Braganza, Grameen Capital

“I look forward to the day when social enterprise is no longer the minority.”

– Brianne West, Ethique

“The best way to predict the future is to create it”.

– Jan Owen, Foundation for Young Australians

“Think strategically about what form of capital you need… be patient, persistent and persevere… and sell your story and your ‘why’.” [Funding tips]

– Dina Jak, Social Ventures Australia

“Get your house in order, leverage your underutilised assets, find your strategic partners and don’t be frightened… Relax the boundary of ‘me and mine’, get a little bit creative and focus on your purpose… and all things are possible”.

– George Liacos, Spark Strategy

“We are part of a global movement, a global movement for change.”

– Angela Constance, Member of the Scottish Parliament and Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities at the Scottish Government

“Radical openness… we all need to think about what bubbles we are in, who we are working with and how we create bridges… what we are each doing individually is amazing but how can we do more then the sum of the parts?”

– MJ Kaplan, Loomio

“My recipe for a successful social enterprise… don’t take shit from anybody.”

– Mike Curtin, DC Central Kitchen

“As an intermediary there’s a fine line between contribution and attribution.”

– Andrea Chen, Propeller

“Enterprises that make money are not bad… encouraging all businesses to ‘do good’ is where we want the world to move.”

– Sally McCutchen, Impact Investing Australia

“I think that 80% of the enterprises that come to us for investment don’t actually need it… most of the time they need to buckle down and just focus on sales.”

– Diarne Poole, Social Traders

“Know your theory of change… think about your business model… and don’t be afraid of traditional equity.” [Funding tips]

– Ben Gleisner, Conscious Consumers

“I think we need to break down the silo between impact investment and venture capital… we have to be very careful but there’s a lot we can learn.”

– Lydia Hascott, Impact Investment Summit Asia Pacific

“If we are not practicing collaboration [as intermediaries] why should we expect social enterprises to do any different.”

– Danny Den Hartog, Lendahand

“I think the most important mind-set for a social entrepreneur is ‘know your limits’.”

– Charlie Wigglesworth, Social Enterprise UK

“I don’t like using the term ‘not-for-profit’… if you don’t make a profit you don’t survive.”

– Kate Welch, Social Enterprise Acumen CIC

“How do we genuinely collaborate, not just play nice?”

– Caroline Sanz, The Difference Incubator

“Sometimes funding ain’t going to fix it.”

– Anna Guenther, PledgeMe

“We take learnings from our work in philanthropy, which are donor-centric, to ask, what does investor-centric look like so that private equity can better be leveraged for social change?”

– Clive Pedley, Giving Architects

“Go back to the ‘why’… choose your advisors wisely… make an effort to understand funders.” [Funding tips]

– Jennifer Ziegner, Impact Investment Ready

“The biggest worry I have is impact washing… capitalists whacking ‘impact’ as a label on to things that are not necessarily impactful… but there are also plenty of investors out there that care just as much about issues and causes as social entrepreneurs do. My encouragement would be to go and find them.”

– Daniel Madhavan, Y Generation Against Poverty (YGAP)

“Who defines what is ‘good’ impact investment?”

– Cliff Prior, Big Society Capital

“Build relationships over time… explore your options… and fund yourself if you can.” [Funding tips]

– Dmitry Selitskiy, Thought-Wired

“’Scale’ is probably one of the three most overused words in the [social enterprise] space.”

– Daniel Madhavan, Y Generation Against Poverty (YGAP)

“There are lots of accelerator programs but what are they accelerating in to? The ecosystem and pipeline is not ready… Our responsibility is to educate the ecosystem of what is means to do impact investing ‘well’… It’s not about silos, it’s about synergy.”

– Natasha Garcha, Impact Investment Exchange Asia

“We are finding there is a funding gap for social enterprises who are just past the seed stage.”

– Patricia Chu, Asian Venture Philanthropy Network: AVPN

“The keys to scaling social enterprise are to invest time upfront… understand your core business… find the right partners… and prepare for change.”

– Ruth Lancaster, International Centre for Social Franchising

“The challenge of system change is that it challenges our core understanding of our existing reality… one of the biggest gifts we can give to the world is normalising new possibilities.”

– Yoseph Ayele, Edmund Hillary Fellowship

Social Change Central
Social Change Central

1 Comment
  • Avatar

    Love all the quotes above and will definitely use them when I talk about my fairtrade journey with audiences and consumers in Dubai.

    Hope to attend the next Social Enterprise World Forum Conference.

    Best regards to all social entrepreneurs and organizations.


    October 1, 2017 at 8:51 pm Reply

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