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Why You Should Be at the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) This Year

The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) is fast approaching, and we’ve gotta tell you, you won’t want to miss it. This October, for the first time in SEWF’s history, the event is being held in a developing country: Ethiopia. In fact, we’re such big fans, we’ve provided fully funded bursaries to two Australian social entrepreneurs to attend this year’s Forum. Flights, accomodation… the whole shebang.

SEWF is the leading forum for international exchange and collaboration in social entrepreneurship and social investment. The success of the event in galvanising the global movement of social enterprise has created a platform for learning, sharing of good practice, ideas and creating partnerships has made it the main forum for the social enterprise sector. The annual event was first held in Edinburgh in 2008 and has since been held on six continents. 

Having previously attended, we can personally attest to the nurturing, innovative, and transformative experience that is the SEWF. As Australia’s only social enterprise opportunities portal, SEWF is exactly the type of opportunity we love to see and share. It’s our pleasure to be able to contribute towards bringing together some of Australia’s key social change leaders to attend this year’s Forum. Our hope is that it will motivate recipients to continue their life-changing work, and improve how they go about it through sharing experiences, skills and ideas, and establishing new relationships, networks and synergies.’

Here’s the launch video for 2019:

There are less than 100 tickets left, so if you’re already sold, get yourself a ticket here right now.

If not, read on.

David Brooks from Social Traders went last year. Here’s what he had to say, thanks to Impact Boom’s coverage:

“SEWF in Edinburgh was a great success. 1,400 delegates from 47 countries around the world with over 50% of the delegates coming from outside the UK. The first time the majority of attendees has come from outside the host country. It’s been a really big privilege to be part of and contribute to SEWF over the last ten years. This year’s gathering was testament to the growth of the social enterprise movement globally and a maturing of the conversation around the challenges and opportunities. For me, it was particularly pleasing to have such a strong focus on the supply chain and opening up procurement channels in the public and private sector as one of the key themes of this year’s programme.”

Jan Owen, the CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians was also in attendance in 2018 (and in fact, spoke!).

“My key highlight of the Social Enterprise World Forum really has been the idea and the debate, (this is my takeaway as well, by the way), that ten years on from when we had the first Social Enterprise World Forum, that landscape has changed dramatically. So much work has been done at all levels of social enterprise, whether it’s deep in communities or whether it’s like at a kind of a policy level. But now we have this incredible opportunity to step into the new economy and to actually lead the way. And so, for me, the idea about the ambitiousness and the audacity of that and also the strategic kind of vision around that is very, very, very important. We have an opportunity to really shape the future with social enterprise.”

Yash from Jaipur Rugs Foundation said that…

“In India, down there we work with these 40 thousand women artisans from different communities. And coming here to the forum, the feeling of cultural exchange, the feeling of multilingual experience, the feeling of multicultural experience, gives a lot of energy to us to get that experience back there to the communities we work with.

Here’s a key insight Impact Boom took from SEWF 2018:

The importance of collaboration and working together, rather than in silos. Self-organisation of the sector was highlighted as a ‘must’ during various conversations and presentations, to help propel the sector forward. Two panels in particular focussed on social enterprise ecosystems and were highly useful in advancing the conversation and drawing attention to a range of international learnings and strategies.

In 2017, SEWF was held in New Zealand. Social Change Central’s Founder Jay Boolkin attended (of course!), and he said that…

“SEWF was an opportunity to be surrounded by and meet so many people from all over the world who are committed to unleashing the potential of social entrepreneurship.”

Dan Madhavan from YGAP was inspired by the calibre of the delegates.

“An old boss of mine once said to me ‘Dan, there are two types of people in the world. The first type see a problem and walk as fast as they can in the other direction. The second type see a problem and start running towards it. The second type are rare.’ I feel like I had the opportunity to spend time with an insanely large group of type two people in Christchurch and I am very grateful for it.”

In 2016, SEWF was held in the bustling city of Hong Kong. Here’s a recap of what went on then:

In 2015, SEWF was held in Milan. You can read a report about Day 1 from Social Ventures Australia here. Community Resources wrote an article about Day 2 (which you can read here), and concluded their learnings with “Funny, insightful and empowering, this day at the Social Enterprise World Forum had it all.”

Need we say more?

Jump in and score yourself one of those last tickets. We’ll be there too so make sure you come and say hello!

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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