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Social Enterprise World Forum 2022: Quotes, Insights & Reflections

The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) once again called Australia home with SEWF 2022 taking place in Brisbane on 28-29 September. Since last being Down Under in 2009, SEWF has gone global. Most recently, from Hong Kong in 2016 to Christchurch in 2017 and Edinburgh in 2018. Addis Ababa hosted SEWF in 2019, and it then went digital in 2020 thanks to COVID-19. It was held virtually in 2021 and was hosted by Nova Scotia, Canada.

SEWF 2022 was an extraordinary event, which brought together 2,700 participants from 93 countries and featured thought-provoking panels, roundtables, and open forums where 20% of speakers were under 30 years old and 60% were women.

Exceptionally well organised and produced by co-hosts White Box Enterprises, #SEWF22 was an incredible experience and an invaluable opportunity to learn about social enterprise from a global perspective as well as to get up to speed on what’s happening locally. The Forum explored what other countries are doing to get social enterprise on the national agenda from a policy perspective, as well as what Australia needs to do to strengthen and grow the sector.

Many diverse voices joined in the conversation from around the globe, sharing their ideas as well as their learnings and failures. There was a commitment amongst participants to keep the momentum building for the social enterprise movement, and with this in mind, we thought we’d pull together some of our favourite quotes and reflections from a whirlwind week of (re)connection, inspiration and celebration. 

“We’re more global than we’ve ever been and have the greatest sense of place than we’ve ever had… We don’t define ourselves by rules, we define ourselves by our shared aspirations. Social enterprise is a movement within the larger impact movement. It’s messy and it’s complex, but it’s exciting and it’s necessary.”

– Hélène Malandain, Chair, SEWF

“There has never been a more exciting time for social enterprise in Australia.”

– MC Lateesha Jeffrey, Wave of Change

“There’s not a lack of ideas or a lack of creativity, it’s about creating the opportunity to share the resources so we can all experience success.”

– Liandra Gaykamangu, Liandra Swim & Enterprise Learning Projects

“We really need to say goodbye to those enterprises that have massive profits and established themselves as multinationals on the back of fossil fuels and degenerative use of earth’s resources… Governments are selling the story that you have got to have economic growth, and the wealth will trickle down. That’s such a false story.”

– Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics

“I believe the social enterprise sector is on the verge of a huge growth spurt.”

– Dianne Farmer MP, Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development 

“Networks sit together, sometimes uncomfortably, but side by side and work in trust. Not trying to build a ‘tower of power’.”

– Elise Parups, Queensland Social Enterprise Council

“Most ideas are good ideas, but are they the right ideas at the right time for us… We don’t do it all but we are an important piece of the puzzle. I encourage everyone to work out what piece they want to be.”

– Nick Pearce, HoMie

“Pursuing targeted social impact with the sustenance of Maori identity… The emancipation of our people lies in the empowerment of our own economic development… We need to take back the power to dictate our own journey.”

– Te Puoho Katene, Te Ptea Whakatupu Trust

“Don’t do things to communities, listen to what communities want.” 

– Matt Pfahlert, Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE)

“We are ready to work on our next steps with the inspiration that we bring home from Brisbane. We need to change our economy to one with social wellbeing at its core, where #socent can thrive.”

– Egon van Wees, Amsterdam Impact

“Communities should not need the market to deliver their fundamental rights and entitlements… We have been filling the gap of poor government policy for too long… Action is the quickest way to hope”.

– India Miro Logan-Riley, Maori Archaeologist & Climate Activist

“Social enterprise is a queering of capitalism.” 

– Danny Quinn, Black Sheep Collective

“I was battling that internal narrative that constantly told me I’m not good enough..  It took me 28 years to love myself… We need to create a society where people with a disability feel worthy and do love themselves… Disability affects every community – every religion, every culture, that’s why you have to be inclusive of us… Inclusion is just fucking business”.

– Dylan Alcott, Paralympian & Australian of the Year

“Start with the community first, what they think their needs are, empower them and co-create solutions with them.”

– Mariam S. Mohammed, MoneyGirl

“Our people are here for a purpose and have something to give to their community. We need to empower them to lead that change… Go and partner with people already doing great things and make it happen.”

– Natasha Short, Kimberley Jiyigas

“That’s the point of the t-shirts, to spark a conversation; to spark that conversation!”

– Laura Thompson, Clothing The Gaps 

“Don’t walk it alone…our head was under a rock at times & had we just looked up sometimes we would have seen we weren’t alone.”

– Daniel Flynn, Thankyou

On social enterprise being too narrowly defined… “We don’t want to end up being the boring person at the party debating what is and isn’t minimal techno vs EDM vs progressive house when what we need is for people feel the beat and join us on the dance floor.”

– Tom Dawkins, StartSomeGood

“Hands down the best 2 days of networking and motivation for my social impact journey.”

– Alison Leigh Carter, IPA

“A dream come true to be speaking on a global stage about serving the needs of others through social enterprise. So much wisdom shared and hearts connecting.”

– Angharad Lubbock, White Box Enterprises

“My key takeaway from the Social Enterprise World Forum in Brisbane: “Be the glue.” It’s all about connecting with people. The ones who believe in business for good, social impact and a better planet, better places, better economies, and unlocking human potential right now.”

– Sandeep Varma, SAARI Collective

“The Social Enterprise World Forum has been the most important event for me personally and professionally in many years… The social enterprise moment in Australia has been building towards the World Forum for over two years. It marks a turning point… an inflection point. Social enterprise in Australia has hit critical mass and will now continue to grow strongly… Never has it been more important for us collectively to use all our will and ingenuity to face the great challenges of our age… and social enterprise is an important part of the solution.”

– Cameron Price, StartSomeGood

“Flying home from the Social Enterprise World Forum, my heart and mind are focused on the horizon… This global gathering helped clarify our vision of what the destination looks like and different pathways to get there. But how do we lift the spirits and inspire others to join the #businessforgood movement? For every passenger looking in this direction, there are passengers looking in the opposite direction… to a different horizon.

– Matthew Edward Taylor, Folio

“Claiming to be the “real deal” is no longer sufficient to be an authentic brand! “Australian- made”, “eco-friendly” or “acknowledging traditional owners of the land” used in your marketing will rarely resonate with your target audience and can even lead to a backlash. Showing the measurable impact on your consumers goes beyond mentioning unsubstantiated claims or just pledging a mission statement. To be truly authentic, your impactful solution should have a purpose that goes beyond profiting the buyers and sellers, but also society and the environment.”

– David Nicolas, Marketer4Wellness

“When you connect in a space filled with this much passion for social purpose, growth just happens – thanks for the experience. SEWF was extraordinary.”

– Carolyn Burr, Rotary Melbourne

“This past week has been one of the most amazing, life-affirming, positive, inspirational of my life. I have connected with so many people from around the world who are trying to change the world for the better – picturing and striving for a new vision of how we can live and thrive in the world – inclusive, community-focused, respectful and engaged with the wisdom of First Nations people, sustainable, fair and equitable. Seeing the continued growth of this movement globally gives me hope. The fact that I am working in this community, and have felt my contribution and role affirmed over the last week has filled me with gratitude and has fueled my (already abundant) enthusiasm for my work.”

– Lucy Brotherton, City of Parramatta

“Coming off such a high being at SEWF. in Brisbane this week. What an incredible group of social innovators, entrepreneurs and change makers… Business is a powerful vehicle for change, and I want to be part of reclaiming an economy that is inclusive, embraces diversity, shares prosperity and is regenerative. I’m thankful for all my experiences to date, and how all the layers come together – the foundations of design thinking, being immersed in software innovation and agile methodology and the privilege of serving many great businesses and organisations in their brand strategy and marketing. And of course, the learnings of being an entrepreneur myself.”

– Kristi McKenzie, The Difference Incubator

“I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this movement and support these amazing social enterprises.”

– Dr Ruth Knight, QUT (Queensland University of Technology)

“As the ripples from this event reverberate and fan out into our communities, my hope is that we can extend the impact to make a lasting legacy as we build on the movement for change.” 

– Elise Parups, Queensland Social Enterprise Council

The above is by no means an exhaustive list. If you attended SEWF22 and heard something interesting that inspired you, made you think (or cry!), or had you fist pumping the air, please let us know in the comments.

Oh, and in case you missed it, the Social Enterprise World Forum is heading to Amsterdam, Netherlands, next year and will be co-hosted by Amsterdam Impact! We can’t wait!

Social Change Central
Social Change Central

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