Community | SEWF Events

An overview of SEWF22 and co-creating the future

by Mirabelle Morah / October 2022

“Our movement is stronger, more global, more diverse and far more impactful due to the tireless work of social enterprise leaders and teams, effective intermediaries, grassroots networks and all those who support them to achieve their social impact. Our mission at SEWF is to grow a global impact economy and this feels far more realisable as we now work with an increasing group of strong allies”. – Hélène Malandain, Chair, SEWF

Together with our 2022 Co-host White Box Enterprises and across two days, 2,770 social enterprise leaders, policymakers, philanthropists and purpose-led people from 93 countries gathered to attend SEWF in Brisbane (Australia) and online via Hopin. With over 30 Community Hubs, more social enterprise leaders were able to engage in inspiring conversations around five thought-provoking programme themes ⏤ Climate Solutions, Excellence & Failure, Indigenous Social Enterprise, Policy & Systems and Unusual Suspects ⏤ while collaborating locally.

SEWF22 in numbers
SEWF22 in numbers

SEWF22 in numbers

  • 2,770 participants
  • 93 countries represented
  • 70 sessions
  • 926 bursaries awarded
  • 20% of speakers under 30
  • Over 60% of speakers identified as women or girls
  • Over 70% were first-time SEWF speakers

Spotlight on Australia

The event kicked off with a Welcome to Country performed by the Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal Dance Company, as we acknowledge the Turrbal and the Jagera People, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which SEWF 2022 was held on. Throughout the event, Indigenous Social Enterprise leaders were also spotlighted including Laura Thompson, Founder and CEO of Aboriginal streetwear brand, Clothing The Gaps, who took the stage to speak about her social enterprise journey. Having led the campaign to “Free the Flag”, Laura emphasised on the importance of sharing one’s experiences and brought to light, the challenges Indigenous entrepreneurs face in running their businesses.

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

Social enterprise strategies: global cooperation to learn and improve

“We aspire to transform the way business is done and transform our economy. We are a movement that is changing things from within”. Hélène Malandain, Chair, SEWF (Aotearoa New Zealand)

With better policies, social enterprises across the world ⏤ whether at national, provincial or local levels ⏤ stand a better chance of increasing the impact of their work, in turn positively affecting people and the planet. And SEWF22 provided the platform for social entrepreneurs to meet with policymakers and be part of discussions around cross-sector collaborations for better results.

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Building on this, one of the guiding questions at this year’s event was how social enterprises could get enough support to keep creating social impact whilst remaining profitable in the long term. For many years social enterprises have criticised corporate values, business practices and the pursuit of profit. At the same time, many corporations have viewed social enterprises as insignificant and unrelated to the world of business. SEWF22 gave space for a conversation on “A new business relationship – private sector and social enterprise partnerships”, in order to address this and push for a new relationship based on mutual value across sectors. Linda Brown, CEO and President, Torrens University (Australia) moderated the session on “a new business relationship” and some of the speakers who shared insights into this included Audette Exel AO, Founder and Chair, Adara Group (Australia), Annie Lewin, Senior Director of Advocacy and Asia Pacific, (Aotearoa New Zealand) and Izzy Fenwick, Founder, Fenwick Group (Aotearoa New Zealand).

Participants at SEWF22

Climate emergency: what role will social enterprises play?

The impact of climate change and conflict is profound and social enterprises are at the forefront of community-level responses. Through humanitarian and livelihood support to refugees, migrants and local responses, social enterprises across the globe are combatting climate change in diverse ways. As we witness economies focusing more and more on sustainability, the conversation around regenerative and participative approaches to create an impact economy and the concept of Doughnut Economics was addressed. In a conversation with Founder of Doughnut Economics and self-declared renegade economist, Kate Raworth who joined our virtual fireside session alongside Peter Holbrook, Kate explored the current and future impact of economic circularity in building better economies. Giving credit to changemakers and social entrepreneurs also advocating for the Doughnut Economics model, kate mentions that

“It takes an entire movement of change makers, practitioners and amazing pioneers to take the words off a page and put them into action. And that wasn’t me, that was and that is ⏤ people like those in the social enterprise community. So this is big teamwork.” – Kate Raworth

SEWF Youth Forum moved to 2023


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20% of speakers at SEWF22 were under 30 and young Māori climate activist, India Miro Logan-Riley, Climate Justice Organiser at ActionStation (Aotearoa New Zealand) during their session highlighted the importance of advocacy in the pursuit of change, as the future of the world depends on the actions of all, as “action is the quickest way to hope”. – India Miro Logan-Riley

Azima and Australian Youth Forum
Australian Social Enterprise Youth Forum

The in-person Australian Social Enterprise Youth Forum (27 September) held in association with SEWF 2022, provided an opportunity for 16-30-year-olds to discover the principles of entrepreneurship, civic leadership and social impact.

However, after much consultation, the digital SEWF Youth Forum originally slated to hold on 29 November 2022 has been moved to March 2023, to ensure the best programming results and to ensure that no matter where young people are in the world, they can access the best opportunities the SEWF Youth Forum has to offer, curated specifically to their needs with the help of a Youth Advisory Group.

Reflecting on SEWF22

“Our sector right here and now this week has this very small window of opportunity to shape many agendas on complex social problems from around the world. Why? Because we are the closest to the solutions”. Luke Terry, CEO, White Box Enterprises (SEWF 2022 Co-host)

Through SEWF22 and the fringe events held in association with SEWF 2022, including the Australian Social Enterprise Youth Forum, Academic Symposium and the Rural Gathering, some of our hopes were for participants to make new, meaningful connections and acquire the knowledge needed to move forward. And from the feedback so far, we’re thrilled that our hope is more than reality.

“The venue was great. I have a disability and was concerned about getting in between events but as they were all so close to each other it was very easy”. – Participant, Australia

“Good luck on your journey, it’s challenging but necessary for a sustainable future. SEWF will walk beside you, using all of our resources and energy to ensure that communities around the world have a planet fit to live in and economies that are fit for purpose for future generations”. – Gerry Higgins

SEWF 2023 heads to Amsterdam

Growing the global social enterprise movement further, at the handover ceremony, we were pleased to announce that the Social Enterprise World Forum ⏤ SEWF 2023 will be hosted next in Amsterdam, the Netherlands along with our 2023 Co-hosts, Amsterdam Impact and Social Enterprise Netherlands.

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Indeed SEWF 2022 in Brisbane, Australia has shown us the need for the world re-learn economics from Indigenous cultures and practice more sustainable systems. And we look forward to the new possibilities of impact to be made, in 2023. We are also deeply thankful for the unwavering support of several partners and sponsors across the globe who made SEWF 2022 a reality.

SEWF 2022 Partners and Sponsors:, SAP, Torrens University Australia, Westpac Foundation, Amsterdam Impact, Brisbane City Council, English Family Foundation, Impact Boom, Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Paul Ramsay Foundation, Queensland Government, Seventh Street Ventures, Tourism and Events Queensland, AMP Foundation, Atlassian Foundation, Gingras Global, Yunus Centre Griffith University, Ian Potter Foundation, IPA, Jobsbank Australia, MinterEllison, NSW Government, Social Traders, Queensland Social Enterprise Council, The University of Queensland and Victorian Government.

⏤ Written by Tessa Porter

Mirabelle Morah is the community and communications manager at SEWF