Social Enterprise World Forum: 14 years of impact and growth

by Mirabelle Morah / August 2022
SEWF Founder Gerry Higgins (Scotland) and past speakers from left to right: Sarah Roberts (Canada), Sebastian Rocca (UK), Kenneth Kwok (Hong Kong), Amonge Sinxoto (South Africa)
SEWF Founder Gerry Higgins (Scotland) and past SEWF speakers from left to right: Sarah Roberts (Canada), Sebastian Rocca (UK), Kenneth Kwok (Hong Kong), Amonge Sinxoto (South Africa)

In the face of increasing inequality, poor economic practices and an ever-raging climate emergency, social enterprise is part of a global response aimed at accelerating our transition into a new global impact economy.


  • The role of social enterprise in ushering in better economic systems 
  • History of Social Enterprise World Forum since 2008 
  • How Micro Rainbow secured £250,000 worth of investment and why we value youth perspectives 
  • How to be part of SEWF22 online, in-person or via SEWF Community Hubs

SEWF timeline: 2008 till date 

In 2008, over 400 delegates from 29 countries gathered in Edinburgh, Scotland with one main objective: to raise awareness about social enterprise as an expanding global mechanism for social change. Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) was the first event of its kind and provided an opportunity for social enterprise leaders and practitioners from around the world to meet and collaborate together. 

SEWF 2017, New Zealand

Since then, SEWF has explored diverse social enterprise models and policies and hosted events across the world in countries as diverse as Brazil, Ethiopia, South Korea, USA and in 2022, Australia. Our annual flagship event and growing range of activities have allowed social enterprise leaders, practitioners, corporates and policymakers to engage and grow the social enterprise movement.  

“I hope the momentum generated by hosting SEWF 2022 can assist the sector in Australia to push on and achieve its potential. It would be very satisfying if a Legacy Report was describing a stronger, larger sector with better governmental and commercial sector support, with strong leadership by the newly formed Social Enterprise Australia”. — Gerry Higgins, Founder and Managing Director, SEWF C.I.C.

SEWF 2019, Ethiopia
SEWF 2019, Ethiopia

2020 – 2021: Going digital and eventually, hybrid

While we work throughout the year to support the global social enterprise movement in various ways, events remain the backbone of our work at SEWF. In 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we held the first SEWF Digital event. Despite having only a few months to adjust plans, we were able to organise one of our biggest global events to date, with over 5,000 places booked from participants across 100 countries! Co-hosted by Common Good Solutions in Canada, SEWF 2021 was our first hybrid event with a network of Community Hubs hosting local events both in-person and virtually.  

“The breadth and depth of sessions at the past SEWF in 2021 is like itself a diploma programme on social entrepreneurship, one which combines both knowledge transfer and practical “roll-up-your-sleeves” action” — Kenneth Kwok, Founder and CEO, KidsForSDGs, Hong Kong SAR  

Sebastian Rocca’s SEWF experience helped secure £250,000 worth of investment for Micro Rainbow  

SEWF plays a crucial part in spreading awareness and fostering relations between social entrepreneurs and social impact organisations. Take for instance Sebastian Rocca, the founder of the award-winning social enterprise, Micro Rainbow. Through poverty reduction programmes, mentoring and facilitating start-up capital, Micro Rainbow works to create more opportunities for the LGBTQI+ community to break the cycle of poverty that often plagues them, while also challenging the narratives and stigma surrounding them. Thanks to a talk Sebastian gave at SEWF 2018 in Edinburgh, he was able to secure Micro Rainbow’s first social investor, resulting in £250,000 worth of investment. This goes to show how the social enterprise model has allowed Sebastian and other entrepreneurs within the SEWF community to grow their enterprise in order to meet the demands of their mission-led services.  

Also read:  May opportunities for social innovators

Why we value youth perspectives

Sarah Roberts
Sarah Roberts

“Experiencing and being an MC at the SEWF Youth Forum in 2021 was something invaluable to me. It opened the door, albeit virtually, to a world of young changemakers and made me inspired for what we will make of the world. It even inspired me to take a global look at my potential as a young person”.

Sarah Roberts, Founder, New Venture Marketplace, Canada 

SEWF assists young changemakers to identify resources, encouragement and support to enable them to thrive. Designed by and for young changemakers (aged 16-30), the SEWF Youth Forum (29 November 2022) is an opportunity for young changemakers around the world to network, learn and be inspired.

The SEWF Youth Advisory Group also consists of young experts and social entrepreneurs who ensure that the plans and programming for our events and the Youth Forum are inclusive, relevant and engaging for young social enterprise leaders. 


 As we continue to hold the world’s largest social enterprise conversation made possible with the invaluable support of our Partners and Sponsors, SEWF22 and all fringe events promise to be an avenue for social entrepreneurs (upcoming and established), policymakers, investors and purpose-led individuals to come together to find solutions to some of our most pressing challenges, whether through innovative social businesses, new policy reformations or social procurement. SEWF22 will convene industry experts and speakers who work locally and inspire globally, providing an opportunity for you to share your work with a global audience.  

Join us and our Co-host, White Box Enterprises, at our two-day hybrid experience, 28-29 September 2022. The event will feature inspiring keynotes, panels and fireside chats centred on big ideas and unheard stories; expert-led masterclasses around topics such as impact measurement funding and investment, as well as networking opportunities in-person and online.   

Also read:  May opportunities for social innovators

Unable to attend physically but would love to have an in-person experience? As a participant, you can visit any of the SEWF22 Community Hubs closest to you.  

“The Social Enterprise World Forum has connected me with ideas, opportunities and people. From this platform I have carved incredible personal and professional relationships. Relationships from which I’ve been able to get advice, insight and actual monetary support that has exponentially grown my organisation”. — Amonge Sinxoto (Founder, Blackboard Africa, South Africa) 

⏤ Written by Thelma Ideozu 

Mirabelle Morah is the community and communications manager at SEWF