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The 30 Most Memorable Quotes from the Social Enterprise World Forum 2019

Over 1,300 social entrepreneurs, practitioners, policy makers, community leaders, investors, activists, and academics from over 70 countries, descended on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the Social Enterprise World Forum 2019 (23-25 October). With three days of content, 230+ speakers, five tracks 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 (in addition to funding bursaries for two Australian social entrepreneurs), and used the opportunity to soak up the tips and tricks from speakers and attendees from all over the globe. While we published a daily wrap up (see Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3), we’ve also compiled some of the most memorable quotes from the Social Enterprise World Forum 2019. After all, why repackage thought leadership when the thought leaders can say it in their own words?

“If you don’t get the systems, structures and supports right then Social Enterprises won’t grow at any pace.”

– Chris White | Social Enterprise UK

“We need to take a critical look at our brand – and I don’t mean our logo… What experience should people have of us so that they join the [social enterprise] movement? Social enterprises can play their part… dragging all other business into the future.”

– Lord Victor Adebowale | Turning Point

“How did we succeed? Well, I don’t feel we did, because we didn’t change the entire food system yet.”

– Emma-Kate Rose | Food Connect

“We are not the experts when it comes to social change. That comes from our partners…Our job is to evaluate how SAP can make a contribution to the great work already being done so that social impact can be maximised.”

– Alexandra van der Ploeg | SAP

“Good journalism is accurate journalism.”

– Tim West | Pioneers Post

“Social value has to be at the heart of all of our procurement. Every Pound spent with a social enterprise fundamentally adds value.”

Claire Dove | Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE)

“How do we build jobs around programs, not create programs and then hope for a job at the end.”

– Luke Terry | Vanguard Laundry / White Box Enterprises

“We, the government of Ethiopia, see the value of social enterprise in our country – in job creation, in creating a sustainable future for our citizens. We can help to amplify the difference your making, side-by-side. Social enterprises – do what u do, the world needs you.”

H.E. Dr Ephrem Tekle | Commissioner for FDRE Job Creation Commission

”No other sector is feeling climate change impacts as much as agriculture, we work to solve this food crisis because a world of hunger will mean no peace.”

– Jeff Kang’acha | The Eden Hub

“Micro credit was thought to be a silver bullet to lift people out of poverty but it failed… impact investment is now all the hype, but is it doing the same?”

– Yves Moury | Fundación Capital

“Young people have a lot to give, the challenges we face are often over looked or misunderstood. The Social Enterprise World Forum’s Youth Week gave us a chance to network to discuss what matters to us and our solutions.”

– Jemima Welsh | QUT bluebox ImpaQt

“Regardless of the portfolio you hold in government, social enterprise is something you need to take note of.”

– Andrea Chen | The Scottish Government

“There is a self-righteousness that we are the perfect people to solve the problems of the planet. We aren’t. Let’s not take a holier than thou approach… We have to take a stance and be less hypocritical in what we do as social entrepreneurs… Our legacy has to be a little more inclusive.”

– Harish Hande | Selco Foundation

“In the broader economy 90% of consumers have no willingness to pay more for sustainability.”

– Erinch Sahan | World Fair Trade Organization

“We’ve saved 500 acres of trees from being cut for consumption by recycling 500 million kilograms of plastic waste since 2009.”

– Lorna Rutto | EcoPost

“I was born in 1998… we are a generation that inherited a sick planet… prosperity can not be measured by GDP… economic growth is the problem and it’s time to move forward and free ourselves from short term thinking.”

– Sabrina Chakori | Brisbane Tool Library

“Simplicity scales.”

– Bradley Heslop | WSV Global

“Measuring you’re environmental footprint should be more than just a footnote in your annual reports… Regulators need to make it mandatory to report the triple bottom line.”

– Simbarashe Mhuriro | Oxygen Africa

“You can’t just focus on the good you do – you must minimise the bad.”

– Karen Lynch | Belu Water

“Decide the problem you are trying to solve, build the business to solve it, and then find the money that matches your needs.”

– Josiah Lockhart | Firstport

“How can we deliver meaningful learning without distorting indigenous culture?”

– Likumbi Kapihya | Social Enterprise Academy Zambia

“We are economic change-makers, advocates for innovation, champions of social enterprise, and big believers in the power of enterprise to make our world a better place… Make the case for social enterprise irrefutable – advocate and influence.”

– Helene Malandain | Akina Foundation

“We’ve been neglecting the second stage of #migration – integration and #inclusion… we should not fear this, but rethink the framework for support.”

– Charlie Fraser | TERN (The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network)

“The only way to secure gender equality is through economic empowerment.”

Metasebia Shewaye Yilm | AWiB

“Out of 618 Tech Hubs in Africa only 5-9 are in Ethiopia.”

– Betelhem Dessie | iCog

“When women have access to menstrual products and education it benefits the whole of society… We should look at development through what menstrual products are available to women.”

– Sara Eklund | Noble Cup

“Each Social Enterprise World Forum has had local impact and global influence… [it’s] a unique platform to support the growth and development of social enterprise around the globe.”

– Dr Tilaye Gete | Minister for Education of Ethiopia

““Doing good and doing good business are not mutually exclusive… The right time to do right is always right now.”

– Per Heggenes | IKEA Foundation

“Social businesses are the best way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

– Kibret Abebe | Social Enterprise Ethiopia

“To address the big issues facing society, social enterprise needs to be at the heart of economies and places…”

– Gerry Higgins | Social Enterprise World Forum

“Social entrepreneurship cannot be taught — young people learn by having opportunities to be socially enterprising.”

– Adam Pillsbury \ British Council

Jay Boolkin
Jay Boolkin

I'm passionate about positive social change and the power of social entrepreneurship to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. I believe that for-purpose business models can become part of the mainstream and I am enthusiastic about advocating for business models that are genuinely built around a social or environmental mission.

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