Policy | SEWF Events

SEWF Policy Forum 2021 Report released

by Maeve Curtin / June 2021

Social enterprises innovate to effectively address some of our world’s most pressing policy challenges. In order for social enterprises to tackle policy problems and help build stronger and fairer communities, effectively structured and locally adapted policy ecosystems are necessary to provide the enabling environment for social enterprises to flourish.


Through this year’s Policy Forum, we set out to examine the role policymakers play alongside other actors to develop these enabling ecosystems, specifically focusing on how they can facilitate market access, develop forms of social finance, support capacity-building efforts and disseminate knowledge. SEWF, with Common Good Solutions in Nova Scotia as SEWF 2021 Co-host, and supported by Buy Social Canada and the Social Enterprise Council of Canada, convened our largest global Policy Forum yet. For two days (27-28 April) we gathered virtually to engage policymakers and sector leaders through breakout discussions, keynotes and panels.


Most importantly, our digital platform Hopin allowed us to democratise this year’s Policy Forum: the event became open invitation for the first time ever and 683 people from 64 countries registered to attend. There was a 222% increase in the number of people who attended from 2020 and a 206% increase in the number of countries represented from 2020.


The opportunity to engage with new leaders and policymakers in the movement who bring different perspectives from all over the world is something SEWF will always seek to offer through our Policy Forum, and we were pleased that 91% of participants who completed our feedback survey thought they were exposed to policy contexts different than their own. Additionally, 79% learned information they believe will help them improve or influence social enterprise policy in their own context.


Through the Policy Forum, we identified and discussed 3 significant opportunities to proactively advance social enterprise policy in the coming year and beyond: transformative collaboration, bold advocacy and attention to social procurement. While the majority (62%) of Policy Forum participants believed that both consumers’ desire to make a difference through purchasing and commercial and public sector procurement (evenly split at 31% each) will make the biggest difference to social enterprise in 2021, 62% also indicated that all policy tools are interdependent. In response, SEWF will continue to enhance our work around social procurement and raising the profile of social enterprises globally. We will also continue advocating for supportive government policies that do not only focus on social procurement or awareness raising, but rather take a collective approach to support the social enterprise ecosystem.


This work is ongoing, but there are three key actions that came out of the Policy Forum worth highlighting:

  1. We released the SEWF Policy Forum message to COP26 and are now working with various government bodies and other agencies to cascade the message so that the global social enterprise community’s concerns and recommendations are on the agenda at COP26.
  2. We launched the SEWF Social Procurement Community of Practice to virtually connect those involved in social procurement around the world in effort to accelerate the impact and capitalise on the potential of social procurement globally.
  3. We joined the World Economic Forum COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs where, as members, we will engage in unprecedented levels of cross-sector collaboration, boldly advocating to position social enterprise at the centre of new economic models and economic rebuilding programmes.


Learn about other outcomes and insights from the SEWF Policy Forum 2021 by downloading our full event report.

Maeve is SEWF's Policy & Research Manager