News

Puzzles and partnerships

Category: Speaker & Partner Blogs

Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 24 June 2018

By Alexandra van der Ploeg

Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, SAP

What if all 7.6 billion people in the world tried to put together a jigsaw puzzle? Each person with a piece of the puzzle. The private sector; public sector; social entrepreneurs; policy makers—the list goes on. Could we do it? Would we agree on why we should do it? Where would we start? With friends and family or with employers and countries? Could we “create an app for that”? Chances are, we’d never finish the puzzle and most likely would feel too daunted by the task to even start.

Does that mean it can’t be done?

Like the world trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle, our work is connected, but our efforts may not always be. Three years into Agenda 2030 we see more corporations developing strategies to contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With that comes increased awareness of a whole sector that has been working for years on systemic change – social enterprises.

With principles such as innovation, transformation and purpose embedded into the DNA of a social enterprise, it is only logical that we should see increased partnerships between corporations and social enterprises in the pursuit of collective impact. It’s why SAP is honored to partner with the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) for the second year in a row, as we understand and believe in the power of an open platform like SEWF to unite different stakeholders and enable collaboration and knowledge sharing to effect sustainable social change.

The social enterprise movement is of course not new. In the last 20 years we have seen the emergence of organizations crucial in developing the sector, such as Ashoka, the Skoll Foundation, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise UK and 10 years ago the Social Enterprise World Forum, leading to a staggering number of social enterprises that are founded across the globe every day. Just recently I learned that in the UK alone there is a vibrant social enterprise community with around 70,000 social enterprises, employing almost 1M people – numbers that demonstrate how powerful this sector has become in such a short period of time!

Yet I would argue that we are seeing two trends with the potential to increase the relevance of social enterprises even further. One is of course Agenda 2030 and the other being the growing demand by society that companies serve a social purpose. Let me elaborate a little.

In September 2015, the world was witness to a historic moment – the adoption of Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals by all 193 UN member states. Historic 1) as for the first time ever there was a clearly outlined and unified plan of action to create a world without poverty, a healthy planet, and a just, peaceful society for everyone 2) the adoption of the SDGs resulted from an unprecedented inclusive process, with governments, business, civil society and citizens.

Over the last two and a half years, the world has taken crucial steps together, but it is also clear that multi-stakeholder partnerships and true collaboration are required to achieve the SDGs. With their core competence in social innovation and transformation, social enterprises bring a level of expertise to the table second to none, making them an invaluable partner in achieving collective impact for the SDGs.

So what about purpose?

Purpose matters to just about everything. Social enterprise or not, people want to support companies dedicated not only to solving business problems, but that have a social conscience, as well.

In January 2018, Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock Inc., issued a letter to CEOs with a very clear message. When the owner of an investment fund that manages 1.7 trillion USD in active funds, calls for companies to make a positive contribution to society beyond their financial performance, it sends a ripple effect through the business community. In other words, to stay relevant and secure future success, companies are learning to make decisions that create collective economic, social, and environmental impact. Who better to look to than social enterprises that have made systemic social change their reason to exist?

As I shared in my puzzle metaphor, we are all working on different pieces of the same problem, we just might not always be working together (yet!). Partnerships built through ecosystems like Social Enterprise World Forum help all of us to forge uncommon collaboration to deliver on our shared purpose.

What’s next?

I look forward to continuing the dialogue on how the pursuit of partnership, a shared purpose and innovation lead to greater impact for all. No organization can go it alone, but together, we can transform industries, grow economies, lift-up societies, and sustain the environment.

 


SAP is a SEWF C.I.C. Global Partner

As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP is committed to helping companies of all sizes and industries become best run businesses. Now more than ever, being the best means making a difference. It means connecting people and information to address the world’s biggest challenges. SAP is thrilled to sponsor SEWF.

www.sap.com/purpose

@sap4good

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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: https://www.en-tomorrowasia-2018apses.com/introduction

 

Social Enterprise World Forum is proud to help promote the conference! People can access conference and watch the live streams at: https://m.facebook.com/tomorrowasia2018 on both the 5th and 6th of May.

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SEWF 2017 is still influencing what I do today

Category: Speaker & Partner Blogs

Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 04 April 2018

By Michelle Ferguson

Director of Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company

Why would I want to fly around the world to be part of the SEWF 2017, especially as I don’t enjoy flying? Wouldn’t it be just another conference where you scribbled down some notes and collected business cards from people you would never hear from again?

I can say a definite no, that wasn’t the case.

Scotland has made a huge headway in terms of social enterprise with a national 10-year strategy, business support programme, social investment, and education and leadership initiatives. But I saw first-hand how much we can learn and gain from spending time with other people making change around the world.

The experience of networking and collaborating with other social enterprise leaders has fundamentally changed the way I think about my social enterprise. Although we are a small enterprise in the West of Scotland we are very much part of a global community of social enterprises, and my experience at SEWF has been transformational.

Yes, we have a lot to share but the knowledge, passion and experiences that come from hearing from other nations, leaders and practitioners about their developments and the impact they are making to their communities is both insightful and inspiring.

It wasn’t just the keynote speeches, the shared understanding and purpose that made the Forum stand out for me – it was actually the discussions at coffee stands, the people who in normal circumstances you wouldn’t get the opportunity to speak to.

I was having a quick bite of lunch on my own one day when I was joined by Wan-Ju Yu, a legislator from Taiwan. We chatted about our countries and the difference social enterprises can make to economies, in addition to the positive benefits to cultures and to society. She had set up her own social enterprise and due to her success had been approached to stand for government. She is now influencing decision making at a senior level.

I don’t think I have spent time with anyone as unassuming and inspiring as Wan-Ju Yu. She made me realise the impact we can make and that governments around the world really are focusing on what our sector is delivering.

Another day, standing waiting to join one of the facilitated sessions, I met Lucretia de Jong from Try Australia, the oldest non-profit/social enterprise in their country. They have really innovative ways of working which improves the lives of their beneficiaries, offers new skills, valuable work, and training and gives them the opportunity to build a home. Their team-centric approach really struck a chord with me and in my new position as Director of Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, I am going to implement many of the strategies she shared with me. In fact, a lot of the things we are putting in place here are because of what I heard and learnt in New Zealand.

Those were just two of the remarkable people I met. I also made connections with many others whom I continue to be in contact with – not just from around the globe but from Scotland and the rest of the UK. The most difficult thing was choosing which sessions to attend. My advice is to book as early as possible.

So if you are like me, you want to hear from the most influential speakers, leaders and politicians who are involved with the worldwide social enterprise movement I would wholeheartedly recommend that you attend the World Forum in Scotland.

It is an experience which will change your perception and invigorate and challenge you in a way that no other event of its kind will.

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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
david@asiccc.ca
778-772-3472
www.asiccc.ca

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