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Coronavirus update

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Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 13 March 2020

We are aware that many of you will be concerned about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the potential impact this will have on SEWF2020 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We would like to reassure you that Social Enterprise World Forum C.I.C. is working closely with the 2020 hosts and will take all necessary steps to keep people safe.

As an international gathering, we are not only following the guidance and advice from the Canadian Government, as this year’s host but are also reviewing the situation globally. The event is due to take place from 23-25th September and we are exploring all options for a global gathering to continue as planned.

We will continue to post updates on our website but if you have any direct queries or concerns, then please don’t hesitate to contact us at

In the meantime, our thoughts and best wishes go out to our entire community as you deal with the impact Coronavirus is having on you individually, as a community and/or as an organisation.

Gerry Higgins, Managing Director
Social Enterprise World Forum C.I.C.

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Broadening our partnership engagement

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Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 10 March 2020

Broadening our partnership engagement: SEWF works with LUMS Entrepreneurial Society in Lahore, Pakistan to learn and teach about social enterprise in the region From December 26th – 30th

Maeve Curtin, SEWF’s Strategic Policy Adviser, attended the 14th Annual Young Leaders and Entrepreneurs Summit in Lahore, Pakistan. This 5-day Summit hosted by the LUMS Entrepreneurial Society (LES) at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) was an SEWF partnership event that brought together over 700 student delegates from high schools, colleges, and universities across Pakistan and South Asia. Over the course of the Summit, students explored different elements of
entrepreneurship testing their business acumen and receiving valuable feedback from successful entrepreneurs. Featured image shows SEWF’s Maeve Curtin with one of the teams competing at YLES. For this challenge they had to rebrand and launch and new product line for Girlythings, a social enterprise that provides health and hygiene products for women and girls with and without disabilities.

What initially seemed like a traditional business and case competition was in fact marked by LES’s deep commitment to inspiring attendees to understand social enterprise and to consider the viability of social enterprise careers. At the very least, YLES acquainted delegates with a potentially unfamiliar concept and helped them recognize the role social enterprises can play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SEWF partnered with LES to elevate their social enterprise competition round and help frame the entire event within the context of social enterprise. In addition to speaking at the opening and closing ceremonies about the potential for a new global impact economy and how young people will play a critical role in this type of transformational change within society, Maeve also gave a workshop on social enterprise that was open to all delegates.

Top: Students from a high school in Lahore who participate in LES’s social outreach programme competed throughout all of YLES and had an additional opportunity to learn about social enterprise.

Beyond engagement with the students at YLES, there was also an opportunity for SEWF to engage with social enterprise leaders from across Pakistan. SEWF had the opportunity to visit with various social enterprises in and around Lahore to see their work in action.

One of the social enterprise site visits was to Project PAVE’s demonstration fields where SEWF saw firsthand the impact of this seed and fertilizer project on rural farmers across the region.

LES also convened a roundtable on the future of social enterprise policy and practice in Pakistan at LUMS and invited social enterprise leaders from across Pakistan to attend. SEWF learned about the state of social enterprise policy in Pakistan from social enterprise leaders on the ground and shared information on social enterprise policy progress globally.

The roundtable with social enterprise leaders across Pakistan demonstrated a need for more collaboration among sector leaders and highlighted future opportunities for policy action that will ease barriers for social enterprises.

This partnership with LES is ongoing and one that SEWF hopes will lead to more students, and delegates generally, from South Asia attending the SEWF youth and main forums in years to come. SEWF will also continue to support policy developments that advantage the growing social enterprise movement in Pakistan.

Photo Credits: LES Media Team

Read more about our Partnering for impact

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SEWF 2020 flies west from Addis Ababa to Nova Scotia

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Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 04 December 2019

Pioneers Post by Julie Pybus on 26th October 2019

The Social Enterprise World Forum 2020 will be held in the town of Halifax in Nova Scotia from 23 to 25 September.

The 2020 host city was announced at the close of the Social Enterprise World Forum 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Friday 25 October.

Lauren Sears, managing director of Common Good Solutions, the organisation that will host the event, told delegates: “Halifax is the epicentre for social enterprise in Canada. Common Good Solutions will be welcoming the world to the Social Enterprise World Forum.”

Halifax is a town of 0.5m people on the Atlantic coast of Canada with a strong fishing industry. The Social Enterprise World Forum was held in Canada in 2013, when Calgary was the host city.

We want to put Halifax on the map

Speaking to Pioneers Post in Addis Ababa before the official announcement was made, Sears explained that she and her fellow Nova Scotians had been convinced to bid to host the 2020 forum after attending the forum in 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland”.

“Edinburgh was a transformative experience,” she said. “It made us realise that we can do more, and that people are doing fantastic work all over the world. We want to put Halifax on the map.”

She added: “I have felt so welcomed by our Ethiopian hosts, and we share that spirit.”

Photo © Synergy Habesha

The area has a strong network of rural enterprises, she said. “We are a very proud region and people, and incredibly resilient.”

People who come to the 2020 forum could expect to be offered lots of opportunities to learn about best practice, said Sears. She added that she also wanted people to have the opportunity to work together during the event, and that the hosts would help delegates make useful connections before they arrived.

David Upton, Common Good Solutions CEO, added that invitations would be extended to a wide range of “purpose-led” businesses as well as social investors.

Young people would be strongly involved as well as first nations peoples.

A key theme would be the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “There is work to be done on these,” said Sears.

For further information on SEWF 2020 or to book your place, visit

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SEWF 2019 – Changing the course of history!

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Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 04 November 2019

Written by Nebiyou Worku, Communications and Marketing Manager, British Council Ethiopia

This year brought the Social Enterprise World Forum 2019 to Addis Ababa, from 23 – 25 October, hosted by British Council Ethiopia and Social Enterprise Ethiopia (SEE). The forum showcased the rich, vibrant, diversified and dynamic social enterprise sector in Ethiopia and welcomed 1200+ delegates from around 70 Countries.

This brought much-needed airtime to the social enterprise (SE) sector by catalysing the area’s young and dynamic social enterprise movement – both within Ethiopia and more widely across the continent and the world. Members of the global social enterprise movement came together in Addis to learn from each other and share their experiences.

Photo © Pioneers Post

What a wonderful and vibrant SEWF 2019 it was! The Forum rocked in Addis. The mood was electric and the passion tangible. Ideas sparked everywhere. 1200 plus entrepreneurs mingled. The study tours were superb. Volunteers astounding. The rural study tours were out of this world. Music was delightful. The applause was spontaneous. The food was lauded. The coffee? Don’t get us started!

In all these, as the forum was appropriately themed, tradition and perspectives were the keywords.

The event itself was a first-of-its-kind in many ways. It was the first time it took place in a developing economy. It was the first time 53 per cent of speakers were female. It was the first time almost half of the speakers were African. It was the first time 1000 tickets were sold out 50 days before the event. It was the first time the SE Journalism Award was presented, and the winners awarded a trip to see the UK SE and Media ecosystem. Even if they know it by heart, it was, almost certainly, the first-time millions of Ethiopians heard about the term Social Enterprise. It’s probably the first time many of the participants had ever been to Ethiopia….and the list goes on.

So, what else do we need?
Entrepreneurs act on their instincts, knowledge, partnerships, wisdom and more. They turn these into innovations and change the world. So, what happens now SEWF 2019 is over?

We change the world, of course.
So, we, the entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in Africa and the world want to effect change that touch the lives of the beautiful people around us. As it was echoed throughout the forum, there is no better time than now, and the world has never needed social enterprise as much as it does now.

We need to see social enterprise policy in Ethiopia, Africa and around the globe. We need to have social enterprises blooming throughout the world. We need this new ‘Capitalism’ boom. We want more corporates supporting the cause and becoming social enterprises themselves. We need to see youth employed in the social enterprise sector and become constructive. We need countless start-ups. We need numerous impact-investors growing. And we need them now.

As Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK succinctly expressed almost two years ago in the SEWF 2019 host city, Addis Ababa:

“More oxygen is produced by the millions of microscopic phytoplankton which are found in the oceans, than the trees. Small acts when multiplied millions can transform the world. In the same way, Social Enterprises can bring about a great change in the world.”

Together we can do it all.

Youth week (20-25 October 2019)

The Social Enterprise World Forum 2019 (SEWF2019) programme was officially opened by Peter Brown, Country Director of British Council Ethiopia, during a press conference on 18 October.

Photo © Synergy Habesha

The programme of activities commenced with the superbly interactive opening ceremony of the Youth week, on Sunday 20th October. The Youth week allowed 100 young individuals from around the globe to attend the week-long programme from 20 – 25 October. The objectives were to increase youth participation in social enterprise, amplify youth voice (unemployment, education, political participation), initiate youth networks, create an opportunity for investment and call for action.

The youth ambassadors selected from Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Australia were involved in discussions with other participants throughout the week, forwarding their views and suggestions on how their participation could be enhanced.
Find out more about our Youth Ambassadors here – and check out photos from the Youth week opening ceremony here –

Education and Academic Symposium (21 October 2019)

The 2019 education and academic symposium took place on 21 October, created a space for a cross-section of experts inclusive of academics and expert practitioners working in the field of social enterprise and education. These practitioners and academics learned, shared innovative experiences and discussed how to collaborate in the future to improve the role social enterprises are playing economically, socially and environmentally. This consisted of two strands:

  • Education for social enterprise and employability
  • Collaborations and Partnerships

Urban Study Tours (21-22 October 2019)

The urban study tours allowed two groups to visit different social enterprise shops and eateries in Addis Ababa, a city which buzzes with different cultures and ongoing development, including:

  • Sabahar: a certified member of Fair World Trade Organisation, this SE is committed to providing fair and reliable employment to traditional artisans. Sabahar is known for its uniquely designed and handmade silk, wool and linen textiles. For further info, visit –
  • Selam David Roshli Technical and Vocational College (SDR-TVC): Founded in 1989, Selam is famous for its family model village childcare and youth support program, Community Support Services, Health and clinic service, Formal education school and Technical and vocational education training. For further info –

Photo © Lidya Yohannes

Policy Forum (22 October 2019)

The Policy Forum co-hosted by SEWF CIC and the British Council in partnership with the Ethiopian Government and Social Enterprise Ethiopia (SEE) was a closed forum, by invitation only. This involved rich discussions aimed at broadening the understanding of, and encouraging collaboration on, social enterprise policy developments and sharing insights. The forum was opened with a live performance of Ethiopian traditional music.


Exhibition (23-25 October 2019)

The exhibition took place throughout the main forum and showcased products and services from social enterprises across the world. It was also a place where delegates and exhibitors built valuable networks.

Photo © Synergy Habesha

African Themed Welcome Reception (23 October 2019)

Following the opening ceremony of the SEWF, a very colourful and vibrant African themed evening took place at British Council Ethiopia HQ where delegates mingled, ate, drank and danced.

Photo © Digital Storytellers

Ethiopian Cultural Evening (23 October 2019)

Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country. It is also Africa’s second-most populous nation. It’s capital Addis Ababa is often called ‘The Capital of Africa’ because it hosts the Africa Union as well as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Ethiopia’s population is highly diverse, containing over 80 different ethnic groups; 83 different languages with up to 200 different dialects spoken. It has historic links with three of the world’s oldest religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The cultural evening provided delegates with an experience of the diversified Ethiopian traditions, and a variety of Ethiopian dishes – ranging from lamb (beg) or chicken (doro) wot (stew) in the surroundings of Addis Ababa Museum.

Photo © Digital Storytellers

SEWF 2019 Main Forum (23-25 October 2019)

“This is the right time for Ethiopia to host the Social Enterprise World Forum.” These were the words of Dr Tilaye Gete, Ethiopia’s Minister for Education, as he greeted 1,200 delegates from 70 countries and territories at the opening of the 12th Social Enterprise World Forum on Wednesday 23 October 2019. Read the full article here –

The main forum was an interactive event with multiple, diverse sessions including:

  • Social enterprises leading the way in tackling inequality,
  • Tech for Good – realising the potential for social change,
  • Innovation in youth engagement,
  • Social Enterprises addressing the challenges of migration,
  • Connecting rural women with global markets,
  • Creative and Cultural Enterprise; and
  • many more.

200 speakers from more than 50 countries led these sessions and shared their experience and expertise with 1000 plus participants.

Testimonials and quotes

“It’s a big deal to have the forum here [Ethiopia] and your presence here will leave a legacy.” Bruktawit Tigabu, founder of Whiz Kids Workshop.

“This Social Enterprise World Forum 2019 here in Addis Ababa has opened our eyes to all the possibilities of scaling up our service provision to blind and visually impaired people.” Founder of Visual Eyes Afrika-International, Molemisi Kono

“We envision a world where every woman is valued and given an opportunity.” The Co-Founder of Temsalet Kitchen

“We fight hunger differently.” Mike Curtin from DC Kitchen quoting Mother Theresa

“What worries me most in the fashion industry is the textile wastage, here at phinix, we collected over 4000 Kilos of textile waste, work with local artisans to produce beautiful shoes and bags for the market.” Pamela from Phinix, Malesia

“Any social enterprise should provide the best product or service in the market.” Tom Allen from Impact Boom

“I didn’t know that there are so many SEs in Ethiopia. Moreover, I got to meet lots of young people and learn.” Nancy Chebet, Participant from Kenya

Rural Study Tour (26 – 28th October)

Lalibela is known for its magnificent rock-hewn churches and Arba Minch for its raw natural beauty. But, the main focus, were the social enterprises there.

In Lalibela, the tour took the participants to BEZA Association and Ben Abeba. BEZA association was established to provide community care for people living with HIV/AIDS. For further info, visit Ben Abeba is the creation of Scottish lady, Susan Aitchison and Ethiopian man, Habtamu Baye. The restaurant, set in a jaw-dropping location, currently employs 50 staff and provides a training platform for locals who wish to get into the restaurant trade. The site continues to evolve with 4 luxury apartments due to open there next month. The restaurant is eco- friendly, and 50,000 trees have been planted in the surrounding area, to cultivate natural wildlife. For those in the UK, Ben Abeba and Susan’s tale will feature in Ben Fogle’s ‘New Lives in the Wild’ on Tuesday 5th November at 9pm.

Photo © Jo Seagrave

The Arba Minch trip saw three SEs and how they operate. These were Jano Handicraft Association, Paradise Lodge and The Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Development Commission (EKHCDC.) EKHCDC is legally registered and licensed as an NGO and targets the immediate and long term needs of its beneficiaries with a particular emphasis on children, women, and youth. One focus area of EKHCDC is institutional capacity building programs that have so far benefitted over one million people.

SEWF 2019: “We’re not the only saviours of the planet”

As the climate emergency has become more prevalent in the last year, one of the stand out sessions was ‘The role of social enterprise in saving the planet’.

In a strongly worded address on the second day of the Social Enterprise World Forum 2019 in Addis Ababa, Harish Hande, CEO of India’s sustainable energy Selco Foundation, drew attention to some of the less attractive characteristics of some social entrepreneurs.

“Social entrepreneurs shouldn’t assume that they are the only ones who can fix the world and instead collaborate with each other as well as governments, NGOs and businesses.” wrote Julie Pybus of Pioneers Post in an article following the session.

Photo © Pioneers Post

Social enterprise Journalism Award winners Announced

Eden Berhane, ‘Semonun Addis’, EBS TV was announced as the winner of the first-ever Social Enterprise Journalist of the Year award during the SEWF press conference on 18 October at the British Council Ethiopia HQ.

Eden is the Executive Producer of ‘Semonun Addis’ show on EBS TV channel. She won this award for the exemplary programmes she produced on the show with regards to why and how Addis should recycle plastic bottles and the amazing story of Tesfa Creative Craftworkers.

Photo © Synergy Habesha

Her plan for the future
Eden notes that there are lots of problems being faced by Social Enterprises. She aims to start a social entrepreneurship award television show which will help to create and encourage the social enterprise sector in the country.

You can access her entries here

Why and how Addis should recycle plastic bottles?
Part 1:
Part 2:

The amazing story of Tesfa creative craft workers
Part 1
Part 2

Eden was given the honour of distributing certificates and awards to 4 journalist colleagues who won second, third, and special commendation awards after she spoke at SEWF 2019.

This award follows a session organised by British Council Ethiopia earlier in the year to bring journalists and social enterprise actors together to establish a better understanding of each other and how they can collaborate to publish more social enterprise stories.

SEWF 2020 flies west from Addis Ababa to Nova Scotia


Photo © Synergy Habesha

At the end of SEWF 2019, it was announced the Social Enterprise World Forum 2020 will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia from 23 – 25 September. Lauren Sears, Managing Director of Common Good Solutions (the 2020 host organisation) told delegates:

“Halifax is the epicentre for social enterprise in Canada. Common Good Solutions will be welcoming the world to the Social Enterprise World Forum.”

Read the full article in Pioneers Post –

Thanks to our Partners


We would like to thank our Strategic Partner, (Social Enterprise Ethiopia,) the Platinum Partners (Johnson & Johnson, Reach for Change and SAP,) our Gold Partner (Vodacom,) Bronze (Diageo, ESELA, Europian Union, The Scottish Government and Turkish Airlines,), Media Partners (Pioneers Post, Impact Boom, The Rooftop) and Documentation partners (Digital Storytellers and Synergy Habesha) for making this event possible.


SEWF 2019 media coverage


Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporate:
FANA Broadcasting Corporate:
Addis Standard
The Reporter
Tadias Addis
Thomson Reuters
Business Insider

Follow our pages for more stories coming soon


Facebook pages:
Social Enterprise World Forum 2019:
British Council Ethiopia:

Social Enterprise World Forum 2019:
British Council Ethiopia:

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SEWF CIC partner with APSES 2019

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Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 30 April 2019

Bookings have opened for the Asia Pacific Social Enterprise Summit (APSES), taking place in Kaohsiung, Taiwan on 11-12th May 2019.

SEWF is happy to partner with the organisers of this event, first established in 2013 to help Taiwan’s social innovation ecosystem grow and to showcase the ability and willingness to help solve global problems. The event is viewed as one of the most significant social enterprise events across Asia-Pacific with over 1200 social entrepreneurs, corporate and government representatives attending each year and this year will be no different.

SEWF MD, Gerry Higgins and Director, Jae-Gu Kim will be among 60+ speakers from 15 Countries talking at the two-day summit.

The event will be opened by Shiza Shahid, Founder of Malala Fund and NOW.Ventures and Tonya Surman, CEO, Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) and will address social enterprise, ecosystem, social empowerment, tech for good and 7 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Book your tickets and find out more about the event programme and speakers

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This year’s SEWF Global Forum will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 23-25th October. The tracks and themes for the event have been announced with the programme due in the coming weeks.

For further info on the event, download the event flyer or visit the website:

In a recent interview with Impact Boom, the SEWF 2019 Project Co-ordinator, Adenew Mesfin said “Our strapline for this year’s forum is local traditions, fresh perspectives. The reason we use the word traditions is because Ethiopia has a long history of social enterprise engagement, not under the label of social enterprise, but supporting the community.” Read the full article

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SEWF pays tribute to its Chairman, Jim Schorr

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Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 18 March 2019

The Social Enterprise World Forum Board is to pay tribute to long standing director and recent Chairman, Jim Schorr by establishing a scholarship programme in his memory. Jim lost his battle with cancer on Monday 11th February 2019 and we are celebrating his impact and his legacy by enabling students from Vanderbilt University Tennessee to attend the Social Enterprise World Forum.

Jim was with SEWF from its inception in 2008 and also served as Chairman, President and CEO of Social Enterprise Alliance (USA). Previously, he was Executive Director of Juma Ventures, one of the U.S.’s most successful and admired social enterprises, and taught coursework on social enterprise as an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University and as a Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

SEWF Director, Peter Holbrook said –

“A very sad loss for all who were lucky enough to know him. What a great way to live a life, despite being so much shorter than it might have otherwise been”. “Jim was a hugely driven, smart and generous guy. He had charisma, a twinkle in his eye and loved to party.”

Gerry Higgins, the SEWF Founder and Managing Director said –

“We will treasure many fond memories of our time with Jim and we consider ourselves most fortunate to have been able to work with and get to know Jim through a hugely inspiring decade of progress for social enterprise globally.”

Information about Jim’s life and legacy can be found here and further information about the SEWF scholarship will be made available in due course.

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The struggle to follow through on your corporate purpose

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Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 16 January 2019

Digitalist Magazine by Alexandra van der Ploeg, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, SAP

15th January 2019

The world’s population today has the most knowledge available to help us achieve a world of equality, where people treat others as they expect to be treated. All businesses, big or small, want to make money but they also want to share their successes and help others to achieve diversity and inclusion. But sometimes, it can be hard to find the right way to help make a difference because at the end of the day, you’ve got to get your work done to keep your customers, employees, and stakeholders happy.

What if there was a simple way for you to make an impact on society without taking away resources from your daily business? Social enterprises have become mature and well-established businesses, providing reliable and high-quality services through regular procurement processes to businesses big and small, helping them to meet their business targets. Social enterprises are businesses that trade to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training, or help the environment. Using the power of the marketplace to solve the most pressing societal problems, social enterprises are commercially viable businesses existing to benefit the public and the community, rather than shareholders and owners.

Social entrepreneurs play an important role in combatting inequality – they reduce poverty, build food systems, celebrate diversity, promote Indigenous culture, meet health needs, create employment opportunities for those with disadvantages, deliver community owned energy and address environmental issues and social exclusion. Profit models vary between organizations.

If every business in the world engaged with just one social enterprise in its procurement process, the overall effect on the world could be enormous. The Social Enterprise World Forum is working to encourage corporations to engage with social enterprises and to help people to understand more, they’re providing a free online course, How Social Enterprises Enhance Corporate Supply Chains. The course features representatives from both big business, including Johnson & Johnson and PwC, as well as social enterprises who work with big business. Attendees can hear from both sides and see what experiences have been gained and how they can become involved.

I truly believe that this is the future – working together to meet our business goals and incorporating diverse suppliers can have an incredible impact on our world!

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How procurement will save the world

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Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 19 December 2018

Forbes by Robin Meyerhoff, Brand Contributor, SAP

6th December 2018

In August, Microsoft made headlines by requiring its suppliers to implement paid parental leave policies. Any company that wants to sell goods and services to Microsoft must offer its employees a minimum of 12 weeks paid leave by this time next year.

This is one example of large companies that are pushing suppliers on more than just price point — going beyond financial costs to consider social and environmental costs as well. At the recent Social Enterprise World Forum (an annual event designed to encourage the growth of social enterprises) participants discussed how more sustainable procurement requirements adopted by large companies could positively impact profits, people and the planet.

Corporate and social enterprise panel at SEWF 2018 discussing social supply chains

Dr. Marcell Vollmer, SAP; Julian Hooks, Johnson & Johnson; Jeremy Willis, PwC; Adele Peek, Foundation for Young Australians and Philip Ullman, Cordant Group discuss benefits and reasons for engaging social enterprises in corporate supply chains

Johnson & Johnson, one of the largest healthcare companies globally, attended the event. Julian Hooks is the Chief Procurement Officer, Corporate Tier, at Johnson & Johnson. He said, “We try to make the world a healthier place one person at a time and we’re doing that in part through our procurement strategy.” To deliver on that promise, Johnson & Johnson prioritizes buying from suppliers that are women or minority-owned businesses.

According to Hooks, in 2017 the company spent 1.45 billion dollars with businesses owned by women or people of color. He believes, “to change the face of healthcare, you need to change the face of the supply chain. That’s what does good in society and makes an impact.” Since Johnson and Johnson operates in 165 companies and works with 70,000 suppliers around the world, it has the potential to significantly boost diversity amongst business leaders globally.

Technology Makes Social Procurement Easier Technology can also help promote goods and services offered by social enterprises to commercial businesses. That’s where SAP, a global software provider, has stepped in. Marcell Vollmer, Chief Digital Officer of SAP Ariba, spoke at Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) about how the Ariba Network (from SAP’s 2012 acquisition of e-procurement cloud vendor, Ariba) connects over 3.5 million companies around the world to socially responsible businesses.

“When we talk to procurement professionals, we see people trying to tackle supply chain issues such as slavery, poverty and diversity. But they are struggling because they lack visibility and data on their suppliers,” explains Vollmer. SAP Ariba provides that visibility and can track over 200 different criteria such as environmental performance, fair labor and business practices or diversity in management. This information allows companies to conduct risk assessments and rankings of potential vendors, which result in more ethical and sustainable supply chains.

Given that SAP Ariba connects over 3.5 million companies to exchange approximately 2.1 trillion dollars in commerce, it presents a huge opportunity for social enterprises to connect with a bigger market. And an easier way for companies to enact more sustainable business strategies by buying from socially responsible providers.

SAP is also developing an ecosystem of partners that helps companies find businesses with social purpose. For example, SAP Ariba has made headway eliminating products made by enslaved workers through its partnership with Made in a Free World by providing transparency into suppliers’ labor practices. It also works with organizations like ConnXus to promote supplier diversity by helping companies identify small, minority and women-owned sellers.

To learn more about how social enterprises can enhance corporate supply chains, register for a new massive open online course (MOOC) created by SAP and SEWF. The course begins January 22, 2019.

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SEWF announces new Chair and Managing Director

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Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 14 December 2018

Social Enterprise World Forum is delighted to confirm Professor Jim Schorr of Vanderbilt University, Nashville Tennessee as its new Chair. On December 10th Professor Schorr took over from David LePage of Buy Social Canada who had held the position for three years.

SEWF is also pleased to announce that Gerry Higgins will become its first Managing Director on January 1st 2019. The appointment of a Managing Director has been made possible by the support of international business software company SAP as the first SEWF Global Partner. This 3-year partnership allows SEWF to add vital capacity to its work in growing and supporting the social enterprise movement around the world.

Gerry Higgins, will combine his role of SEWF Managing Director with a new role of Director of International Enterprise at Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS), having served as CEIS CEO since 2006.

Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) has moved well past being a once-a-year activity and now serves a global community of social enterprise and their supporters. With SEWF Host partners secured for 2019 and 2020 and plans for Regional and Partnership Events, SEWF will deliver an enhanced programme of support to policy makers and social enterprise development initiatives in response to increasing demand around the world.

New Chair, Jim Schorr said, “It has been fascinating to be part of the growth of the global social enterprise movement for the last decade, since the first world forum in Edinburgh. It is an honour to be replacing David LePage as Chair of SEWF at this exciting time for the organization and for social enterprises globally”

Outgoing Chair, David LePage, “With Jim’s leadership, Gerry’s engagement, SAP’s support and a global network built over the last ten years, SEWF is well positioned to take the next steps in the creation of a supportive ecosystem for social enterprise.”

For details of SEWF Global Partnership with SAP
For details of SEWF Programmes

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Are you a social enterprise looking for new customers to work with? Or, maybe you’re looking to diversify your supply chain by working with social enterprises who positively contribute to solving social, economic, or environmental challenges?

If you said yes to either of the above questions, then we’ve got the perfect learning opportunity for you! There’s a free Massive Open Online Course, How Social Enterprises Enhance Corporate Supply Chains, starting from January 22, 2019 and you’re invited to join. All you need to sign up is a valid email address and all video units require just 20 minutes of your time to complete. You can learn at any time that suits you and on any device. Here’s how it works!

The course introduces you to a variety of corporate and social enterprise representatives, sharing their experiences and helping you find the right solution for your business. The course runs over a four-week period, so every Tuesday from January 22, there will be new content released. You’ll find five videos per week and they’re approx. 20 minutes each – you can watch them in one sitting or one a day. And if you have questions or would like to discuss the content, you can meet your peers and the content experts in the discussion forum.

If you’d like to earn a Record of Achievement at the end of the course, you can complete the weekly assignments. These are multiple choice tests that you can take any time throughout the week, but you must submit them before the weekly deadline (every Wednesday before 9:00am UTC).

If you can’t commit to completing the weekly assignments, don’t worry – you can dip in and out of the content at any point, choosing the topics that appeal most to you. After the course finishes on February 27, you can still access all of the course content – you won’t be able to create new discussions or take the weekly assignments but you can still benefit from the course content.

Ready to learn? Enroll today for free – just create an account with your email address and when it’s time to start, we’ll send you a reminder with some more information.

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Why social entrepreneurs and big business need each other

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Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 31 October 2018

Edinburgh’s Old Town is famous for its castle and buildings dating back to the Medieval era. But something new is taking root in the capital of Scotland; It is quickly becoming a global hub for social enterprises.

While there is no formal definition of social enterprise, it is usually defined as a commercially viable organization focused on benefiting the public – rather than shareholders or owners. This can mean anything from helping alleviate conditions for people living in poverty, to protecting the environment. And the sector is booming: 42 percent of social enterprises have been established in the past 10 years.

In a country of less than 5.5 million people, Scotland’s social enterprise sector includes approximately 5,600 organizations, contributes 1.68 billion pounds (about $2.2US billion) to the economy annually, and employs over 100,000 people.


Advancing Collaboration Between Social Enterprises and Big Business

So, it’s fitting that the eleventh Social Enterprise World Forum, an annual global event designed to “create a global social enterprise movement,” was recently held in Edinburgh. Over 1400 delegates from 47 countries gathered to collaborate, network and discuss how they could help tackle the world’s social and environmental problems. Throughout the event a common theme emerged: the need to strengthen the relationship between the commercial and social business sectors.

Gerry Higgins, CEO of Community Enterprise in Scotland, founded the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) and has over 30 years of experience starting and running social businesses. “Partnerships between social and private enterprises have come a long way,” he said. “But over the last few years we’ve really reached a tipping point – the corporate sector is recognizing that it can make a significant difference in communities through social enterprise partnerships.”

In part, Higgins thinks the impetus comes from millennials. “Young people are realizing that business as usual isn’t good enough, and that we have a lot of challenges globally.” This generation has inspired more interest than ever in the social sector, but also put pressure on big business to show their responsibility towards addressing social and environmental challenges.

Higgins believes that bringing corporate and social worlds closer together is a win-win for both. Companies are being asked increasingly to report on how they positively impact communities. One way they can demonstrate socially responsible business practices to shareholders is by buying from social enterprises. Conversely, corporate buyers provide social enterprises with a new and potentially lucrative customer base, which will help increase their social impact.


SAP Doubles Down On Commitment to Social Enterprises

As a global business software provider, SAP agrees that working with social enterprises is mutually beneficial — and is doubling down on its commitment to the sector. The company participated in SEWF as the organization’s first global partner. The three-year partnership will help drive growth in the social enterprise sector and includes a new massive open online course (MOOC), designed by SAP and SEWF members to teach participants how social enterprises can enhance corporate supply chains.

For many years, SAP has supported social enterprises primarily through its social sabbatical program, that matches SAP employees with social enterprises, NGOs and non-profits where employees use their expertise to help organizations address strategic challenges. But Alexandra van der Ploeg, vice president of corporate social responsibility at SAP, believes there are two main reasons why there is more momentum than ever across the company to engage with social enterprises.

First, in 2015 the United Nations established the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at fighting poverty, equality, and climate change. “Agenda 2030 and the SDGs have increased awareness about the private sector’s role in helping to achieve the societal, economic and environmental goals of the UN,” said van der Ploeg.

Second, (but related) the investment community wants to see that corporations conduct business more responsibly. Van der Ploeg explains, “There’s a push from investors that makes this a pivotal moment. They are urging companies to look beyond the economic bottom line to the triple bottom line that measures economic, social and environmental achievements.”

She believes SAP can help accelerate social enterprises with its technology, employees and ecosystem. SAP technologies can boost social enterprises and help them scale, for example, SAP Ariba can connect buyers worldwide to purveyors of socially-responsibly made goods.

Employees can volunteer their expertise and time to support existing social entrepreneurs and maximize their impact. Or start their own through internal initiatives like 1 Billion Lives initiative, an incubation program that supports employees who want to launch socially-minded businesses. Last, the SAP ecosystem of partners (including for, and not-for, profit organizations,) can provide social entrepreneurs with new business opportunities and markets.

This dovetails neatly with SAP’s purpose: to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Adaire Fox-Martin is an Executive Board member at SAP SE, in charge of Global Customer Operations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Greater China. She has long been a champion of social entrepreneurship; for example, she started SAP’s 1 Billion Lives program. As Fox-Martin put it, “The opportunity that we have with social enterprises is to allow our employees to live our values, engage with projects and ideas close to their hearts and truly help the world run better.”

Next year SEWF will take place in Ethiopia, one of Africa’s fastest growing economies with over 100 million inhabitants. Ethiopia already has a strong social enterprise sector. Watch this space.

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Today, Asia is faced with numerous unsolved problems.

Tomorrow, how can Asia utilize social innovation in tackling difficult issues?

On May 5-6, 2018, Tomorrow Asia, 2018 Asia-Pacific Social Enterprise Summit』, taking place at Taichung Cultural and Creative Industries Park , is the largest social enterprise summit in Taiwan with more than 30 international speakers from 15 countries, will  present trends of social innovation in the field of Food & Agriculture, Ageing, Minority Employment, Environment & Green Energy.

Join representatives from public, private and civil sectors to seek opportunities and change Asia’s Tomorrow!

There will be two sessions across two days for people to watch via the live streams:

May 5  

9:30-10:00 (CST) Opening Ceremony,  

10:00-11:00 (CST) Keynote Speech 1Lucy Iron Fish Enterprise (Cambodia) – Gavin Armstrong (Fonder and CEO)

Speaker biography: Dr. Gavin Armstrong is a committed impact entrepreneur. He is currently serving as the Founder and President of “Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise®”, a social enterprise attempting to alleviate iron deficiency around the world using a simple health innovation. Through this role he was a Fulbright scholar at Auburn University and was awarded the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Social Entrepreneur category in 2016. In 2017 he received the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award and was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year by EY Canada.

A long-term advocate and activist against hunger and malnutrition, Gavin is the first Canadian to receive the Clinton Award for international work against hunger and is the inaugural recipient of the international Michaelle Jean Emergency Hunger Relief Award. He has also helped the Lucky Iron Fish win multiple Cannes Lion awards and several Clio Design Awards. He has also received a Silver Innovation Award from the Edison Foundation. In 2015 Conscious Company Magazine featured Gavin as one of the seventeen Rising Social Entrepreneurs of the year. He is also the youngest recipient of the Social Innovator of the Year Award from the Lewis Institute at Babson College. In 2017 Gavin was named one of the 50 philanthropists changing the world by Town & Country, and in 2018 was named in the top 100 visionary leaders by Real-Leaders magazine.


May 6

10:00-11:00 (CST) Keynote Speech 2 One Earth Innovation(UK) – Reed Paget (Managing Director)

Speaker biography: Reed Raget is the founder of “One Earth Innovation”, a green product incubator which has worked on projects ranging from low-energy computing to Bio-char. Projects currently in the pipeline include creating the world’s most sustainable denim jeans.

Reed’s previous businesses include Belu Water, the UK’s most eco-friendly bottled water brand. Belu is the world’s first carbon neutral bottled water, the first in Europe to use compostable bottles made from corn, the first to promote PVC-free bottle caps and the first to commit all profits to clean water projects.

He was named UK Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008 by the Schwab Foundation; he was a Social Enterprise Ambassador for the UK Cabinet Office between 2007-2010, and he is on the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Reed started his career as a journalist and filmmaker. Along with producing television news in New York, he produced and directed the award-winning documentary film American Passport. Shot in 11 war-zones on five continents, the film documents waning days of the Cold War from the military crackdown in Tienanmen Square to Scud Missiles landing in Israel. The film has screened in 15 countries on Canal Plus and the Independent Film Channel.

Conference official website:


Social Enterprise World Forum is proud to help promote the conference! People can access conference and watch the live streams at: on both the 5th and 6th of May.

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New speaker announced for SEWF 2017

Category: Uncategorized

Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 12 May 2017

Graham Lewis, CEO and Co-Founder of Green Propellor, Canada is a passionate social innovator with a breadth of international experience in social enterprise. He is responsible for creating a variety of social enterprises with Green Propellor being his latest venture. Graham will bring vast knowledge and learning to Social Enterprise World Forum 2017.


To find out more about Graham, click here

If you are interested in speaking at SEWF2017, contact the team here

For further information on the event including the programme, other speakers or how to register, click here

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By David LePage

With the growth of big box stores and franchised retail outlets, the emergence of social enterprise is an invigorating option in the retail landscape. Many social enterprises arise as new retail entries directly responding to a community need.

However, two recent transactions illustrate how social enterprise is also a valuable tool that can be used to sustain and enhance existing community assets.

One example demonstrates how social enterprises can sustain assets in a rural community when a family-owned business owner retires. The other example shows how a social enterprise can increase the social value of multiple government-owned commercial properties in an urban area through the creation of a blended value property portfolio.

Example #1 – What happens when rural small business owners retire?

Answer: A social enterprise steps in to work with the family to keep the business going and growing.

The Yellow Barn produce store and restaurant is a fixture for many customers in the rural (but urbanizing) communities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack just east of Vancouver. With a menu of homemade pies, pickles and an outlet for fresh produce from local farmers in the summer months, it serves as an important place for the community to socialize over coffee, creating local employment and directly contributing to a local economy. But when the key family members who operate the restaurant decided to retire, the whole family was left in a quandary of how to retain the value they created and possibly extend the family legacy.

“Our family spent thirty years building the business as a service and social gathering place for the community. With my mom, dad and sister retiring, we couldn’t imagine a better way to extend the family efforts than leasing to a social enterprise”.
– Dale Hodgins, family member.

A lease agreement between the family and the Abbotsford based MCC Community Enterprises, an experienced operator of several social enterprises, means the business remains open and potentially adds further community and social value through the social enterprise mandates of MCC Community Enterprises.

“MCC Community Enterprises is a community based non-profit organization that already operates several social enterprises. The Yellow Barn was a natural addition – allowing us to maintain the local business and potentially create a site for job training and added targeted employment opportunities”.
– Ron Van Wyk Executive Director, MCCCE.

This social enterprise model has relevance in many rural communities where small business owners reach retirement and essential services like groceries, gas, hardware, and social sites like restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops face closure.
These businesses may not have a traditional ‘financial market’ value to allow them to be sold outright, but they have very strong ‘community market’ value that requires a new type of investment option. A social enterprise creates a community-owned business model for continuing their essential roles in the community.

For the Yellow Barn, that was the answer.

Example #2 – What happens when one of Canada’s poorest communities struggles with the impacts of gentrification, including the loss of affordable retail options and coffee shops, and far fewer places for low-income residents just to socialize?

Answer: A social enterprise model is designed that allows the provincial government to transform their commercial property into a community asset. Community Impact Real Estate Society, CIRES, was created to hold the head lease and operate the approximately 70 commercial properties in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) on behalf of BC Housing, with a primary mission to create community value and maintain financial sustainability.

CIRES will have a blended value mandate in managing the commercial properties. Some will rent at market rent, others below market in exchange for social impact, such as targeted employment for persons with barriers, social enterprise space, or non-profit use. CIRES’ financial pro-forma predicts a profitable operation that can use its surpluses to re-invest in further social enterprise development and mitigation of retail gentrification in the area. The hope is that the City of Vancouver will add more properties to the portfolio, and then the next step is to add properties held by the private sector as well.

“The DTES Community Economic Development Community Advisory Committee is hopeful that CIRES, another social enterprise in our neighbourhood, will be the generator of even greater local economic and social impact, especially serving the needs of the low income community members.”
– Steven Johnston, CEDSAC Director

In the past, one-off changes in government property have happened, but in this case shifting a whole portfolio will definitely change the landscape as well as the use and purpose of retail and other commercial space in a designated area. The social value impact of CIRES will be core to measuring its success. Yes, the financials look and should be sound, but CIRES’ role of strengthening social capital, creating target employment, and economic inclusion through the portfolio tenant choices will be the ultimate test.

These are just two examples of how social enterprises in rural and urban settings are emerging as a significant tool to address community based economic and social value market needs. The approach works across many communities because social enterprises are businesses with an intentional and measureable social value and have a commitment to the majority of profits being reinvested into the community.

Accelerating Social Impact, a Community Contribution Company focused on creating a social value market place, provided significant consulting support and guidance on the design and development of these two projects. For more information contact:

David LePage

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Nova Scotia Social Enterprise Sector Strategy 2017

On Wednesday, April 12th the Government of Nova Scotia gave formal recognition to the thriving social enterprise sector in its province, releasing the official Framework for Advancing Social Enterprise in conjunction with the Social Enterprise Network of Nova Scotia’s Sector Strategy. In doing so, they take a significant step forward in creating true prosperity across our province.

This Provincial Framework and Sector Strategy represent the most progressive and well thought out social enterprise policy in the country, showing Nova Scotia’s position as a centre of excellence for social enterprise development in Canada and marking the beginning of leveling the playing field for all business types.

The process of building these documents is a testament to the fact that many people share a sense of hope that we can, and will do better in business.

This Provincial Framework and Sector Strategy represent the most progressive and well-thought-out social enterprise policy in the country, showing Nova Scotia’s position as a centre of excellence for social enterprise development in Canada and marking the beginning of levelling the playing field for all business types. 

In every corner of our province you can see people and organizations building and running businesses that create social, cultural, and environmental value. This is social enterprise. It is not a new business model. It is not a fad. It is here to stay.
– Cathy Deagle-Gammon, President, SENNS

To Nova Scotia’s 1000+ social enterprises and budding social enterprises, thank you for making Nova Scotia a world leader in business that builds community value with every transaction.

Please download the Sector Strategy here.


Social Enterprise Framework for Nova Scotia

Increasingly, Nova Scotians are not satisfied with choosing between being in business or helping people.They know they can do both, and they want to do more. That’s why they’re turning to social enterprises to support the economy and give back to communities across the province. Government’s Framework for Advancing Social Enterprise supports this vision for vibrant communities.

It’s also an important part of growing the economy in new and innovative ways. This document outlines government’s priorities and the actions it will take in the coming years to create a thriving, sustainable social enterprise sector. This framework was developed through consultations with the Social Enterprise Network of Nova Scotia (SENNS) and leaders from social enterprises, enabling organizations, and government partners. This framework uses the policy pillars developed by the Social Enterprise Council of Canada as a model. There is a growing role for social enterprises in the future of Nova Scotia’s economy. Advancing the social enterprise sector is a priority because social enterprises create job opportunities and other economic benefits–particularly in rural communities – while improving those communities socially, environmentally, and culturally.

– Mark Furey, Minister of Business, Nova Scotia

Please download the Framework document here.

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A new era for social enterprise in Victoria

Category: Uncategorized

Posted by: SEWF admin / 17 February 2017

Today’s launch of a new Social Enterprise Strategy by the Victorian Government is an exciting milestone for the future development and growth of social enterprise in Victoria and Australia.

I am pleased that social enterprise is being recognised as a legitimate and growing part of the Victorian economy, and am confident that this leadership will encourage other jurisdictions around Australia to follow.

The Strategy provides the framework for stronger growth of social enterprise across Victoria in the coming years by:

  • Removing a big policy vacuum, that will enable social enterprises to start-up and operate across the State within a far more positive and conducive environment
  • Raising the profile of social enterprise endorsing it as a valuable and important part of local communities
  • Committing to the development of a social procurement framework that will open up more contracts for social enterprise to purchase goods and services from Government

Over the last eight years, Social Traders has played an active role in raising the profile and supporting development of social enterprise thanks to seed funding from the Victorian Government and Dara Foundation. We strongly endorse the key elements of the Government’s Strategy, which builds on the existing base.

David Brookes, Managing Director

Victoria State Government Social Enterprise Strategy

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SEWF 2017 Programme Reveal!

Category: Uncategorized

Posted by: SEWF admin / 31 January 2017

Akina Foundation have now launched the programme for this year’s SEWF in Christchruch New Zealand! Read below for more information.

The theme for SEWF 2017, “Ka koroki te manu – Creating our tomorrow”, is an invitation to create a global legacy of positive change and to take an active role in shaping the world’s future. Just as the first birdsong welcomes the potential of tomorrow, SEWF 2017 is a chance to come together and explore the endless possibility in ours.

Programme overview

The programme gives delegates a chance to personalise their experience, with multiple streams and activities to choose from. The various streams and the participative format of the forum will enable us to celebrate diversity, share real stories and insights, inform, inspire, educate and learn from each other.

This is an overview of the three days of the forum. More details about specific sessions or events will be released soon.

Check out our confirmed speakers – more of them will be announced soon!

View the Programme Overview

Find out more

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Scotland’s Social Enterprise Strategy

Category: Uncategorized

Posted by: SEWF admin / 25 January 2017

Scotland’s new 10-year Social Enterprise Strategy was launched at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh on Wednesday 14 December, 2016.

The new strategy sets out a clear vision to ensure that our social enterprise business community thrives and grows over the next decade and beyond.

The strategy was produced in partnership with Scotland’s social enterprise support and development bodies and The Scottish Government.

In a joint statement, Pauline Graham, CEO of Social Firms Scotland, Aidan Pia, Executive Director of Senscot and Fraser Kelly, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise Scotland, said:

“Scotland is a recognised world leader in social enterprise support and development. The journey towards the launch of this ambitious strategy has been both rewarding and challenging. Our social enterprise community, stretching across every area of urban and rural Scotland, is diverse. This new strategy sets out a clear, powerful and inclusive vision for the growth of social enterprise over the next decade and beyond.”

Please click here to download the Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-26.

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A Tour of the “trending trajectory” of Social Purchasing!

Category: Uncategorized

Posted by: SEWF admin / 17 January 2017

Social Purchasing is “Encouraging a shift towards procurement based on achieving multiple outcomes in addition to maximizing financial value.” (Social Procurement and New Public Governance: Barraket et al, 2016)

Social purchasing intentionally multiplies the social and economic ripples of existing purchasing from merely supplier benefits to community benefits.

This tour through social purchasing initiatives is an evolving ‘map’ as we go along the journey. We couldn’t cover every possible point of interest, so we tried to provide a good overview. Please send us any additions to the itinerary!

Why is the tour a ‘trending trajectory’?

A Trend is the prevailing tendency; changes in a situation or in the way that people are behaving; a direction in which something is developing.

A Trajectory is the path followed by a projectile flying or an object moving under the action of given force, a progression.

Background for the Tour

Social purchasing and Community Benefit Agreements are now moving beyond experiments. They are becoming innovative and effective implementations across multiple jurisdictions and locations. They are creating targeted employment opportunities, enhancing local economic development, and contributing to healthy communities. And through social purchasing social enterprises are seeing their sales opportunities increase, and their social impact grow.

In the spring of 2014 I published Exploring Social Procurement, which outlined opportunities and barriers to advance social purchasing, especially for governments. The paper noted that we were at an early development and emerging stage of social purchasing. (

Now just three years later Social Purchasing is on an amazing “trending” trajectory!

So, rather than me trying to write a comprehensive observation and analysis of what is evolving in social purchasing globally, let me just provide a tour of some quotes and quips. You can explore and see for yourself!

Read full Report here. (


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