Previous Event:

Addis Ababa 2019

Hosted By: The British Council

THEME: Local traditions – Fresh perspectives

The Social Enterprise World Forum (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 British Council hosted the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) 2019 in Addis Ababa on 23 – 25 October 2019. British Council’s work on social enterprise in Ethiopia began in 2015 and gathered speed quickly, using expertise from British Council’s well-established Global Social Enterprise programme, which had been ongoing since 2005, understanding of local context and longstanding institutional relationships (office opened in Ethiopia 75 years ago).

Ethiopia is home to a young and dynamic movement: 75 per cent of social enterprises have only been operating since 2010 and nearly half of all leaders are aged under 35. With support from the European Union, British Council have acted as a catalyst for Ethiopia’s emerging social enterprise movement and there is significant interest and support from Ethiopian government representatives.

Our vision for SEWF 2019 was to:

  • Transform social enterprise into a major driver for growth and change in Ethiopia
  • Grow the number of social enterprises (and institutions that support social enterprises) across East Africa and the African continent thereby raising their profile
  • Make the global social enterprise movement more diverse and inclusive


  • Over 300 stakeholders were involved in design of the Forum
  • 1,312 delegates
  • 71 countries and territories represented
  • 195 speakers from 35 countries and territories
  • More than 57,000 people visited the official website
  • 8 study tours for over 135 delegates
  • 26.3 million collective reach by local and international media
  • #SEWF2019 and #SEWFAddis hashtags garnered 10 million reach and 42.6m impressions from 6726 mentions by 1779 users
  • 95% of delegates surveyed expressed that they were satisfied with the overall experience.

Legacy Impact

The SEWF 2019 hosts, The British Council, worked with SEWF to calculate the carbon impact of the event in Addis Ababa last October. The methodology outlined in the SEWF climate change strategy has resulted in a carbon offset payment of £12,606  to SELCO Foundation in India. This will provide financing for sustainable lighting solutions for 400 households and energy solutions for 10 schools benefiting 600 students.

The British council will put significant emphasis and resource into planning, delivering and monitoring the local legacy outcomes from SEWF. Expected legacy of SEWF 2019 is:

  • networks and partnerships in skills and enterprise enhance the international flow of information and trust and the forum has enabled local social enterprises to link and develop potentially long-term connections and we expect this interconnection to grow
  • innovation / thought leadership practices have been shared at the forum and local stakeholders are now more equipped with the knowledge required to support effective approaches to skills and enterprise development. We anticipate that as recognition of the social enterprise sector grows this increased knowledge will support the sector to move forward faster
  • individual learning provided by the many sessions of the forum ensures that people are more employable, entrepreneurial and successful because of the skills they acquire. The capacity built will support growth of many social entrepreneurs
  • institutional capacity building will result in the long-term with local institutions and organisations implementing more effective approaches to skills and enterprise development
  • policy / system change always takes time however the forum has put a focus on the social enterprise sector and thereby emboldened it. It has raised awareness of the benefits of the sector to government representatives, development partners and other stakeholders. We hope that in the long-term new or enhanced policies and approaches will foster skills, employability and social enterprises.

“Ethiopia has been outstanding. If there was a better way to showcase the energy and the enterprising potential of this country, I can’t think of it.”

Gerry Higgins, Founder and Managing Director, SEWF CIC

To find out more about SEWF 2019, download the post-event report