We Need To Think Bigger – Learnings From the Social Enterprise World Forum

The Social Enterprise World Forum is an international event for social entrepreneurs from around the world to come together, connect, build networks, and focus on how we can create a more sustainable future. This year, the SEWF was held in Edinburgh, Scotland with over 1,400 social entrepreneurs, support agencies, investors, public, private, and government representatives from around the world attending.

As one of the world’s leading countries in social enterprise, Scotland was an ideal fit to host the 2018 Forum. With over 5,600 social enterprises operating across the country contributing over £2 billion to the local economy, it’s clear that Scotland is driving real positive social change as an example for the rest of the world to follow.

Here are some of my key takeaways from the Social Enterprise World Forum:

  • To make the next ten years more progressive, the social enterprise movement needs to take audacious actions. This conversation was triggered by Indy Johar of Dark Matter Labs on a panel focused on the collaborative economy and the future of business. Johar encouraged the audience to go beyond thinking small and focus on creating more large-scale social enterprises to begin to change the economy. You can watch the panel here.
  • Collaboration across sectors is the key to accelerating the social enterprise sector. This idea was highlighted in many panel discussions and throughout the Forum. A panel including Johnson & Johnson and PwC (among others), spoke to this idea indicating how we are entering a new era of commercial/social collaboration.
  • Part of social enterprise is about learning from failure. It’s about being flexible and pragmatic — not being afraid to pivot, shift, or completely ditch an idea and move on if it’s not working. Alastair Wilson from The School for Social Entrepreneurs emphasized that you don’t need permission to start a social enterprise; it’s about committing, being honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and learning along the way.
  • Supporting social enterprise can be as easy as changing the way we choose to buy. Ben Gleisner, co-founder of CoGo (Connecting Good), shared the idea that businesses who start recognizing their social and environmental good and communicate it effectively to their consumers will see more consumers coming through their door.

One of the best parts about attending a conference like the SEWF was getting a chance to connect with people from different backgrounds and interests from all over the world. By listening to some of the challenges and successes others have experienced we hope to apply their learnings in our own community.

I’d love to chat more about the event and my learnings – connect with me directly at Amanda@purppl.com.