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  • Writer's pictureSERI

What you missed at the Social Enterprise World Forum...

Last week, the Social Enterprise World Forum took place. There was so many interesting panels, discussions and case studies. We know it was tricky to keep up, so our board and Practitioner Council took a number of sessions between them and shared some of the takeaways with us.....

On Wednesday 29th, SERI held a Community Hub session at the fourum where we were joined by many people to discuss our learnings from the different sessions attended.

Lorraine Corcoran from Afanite - SERI Board Member

Session Attended: Social Procurement Session 28/9/21

Panel: Lisa Boothby (Australia, Social Traders), David Lim (Malaysia), Andy Daly (SEUK), Maeve Curtain (SEWF)

Main Learnings:

Amazing stories from these three countries on the development of social procurement. While it is acknowledged that this is all work in progress, tremendous strides have been made.

  • Get the narrative right – what is the story. Get buy-in politically and use that to influence.

  • Quality product, service and price are key. Important that the message is understood that these are good businesses that can deliver what you need

  • Certification is really important. A lot of work goes into certification and you need to know how you filter non-social enterprises. Importance of knowing the impact and measuring it. Impact and certification are both closely aligned and critical to credibility.

All of the reports and documents mentioned in the session are available on the SEWF Resource Library (filter category - social procurement):

Shauna McClenaghan from Inishowen Development Partnership - SERI Board Member

Attended three sessions:

-Environment, Food and Nature – Creative Communities. (Speakers from Kenya, Nepal, Canada).

- Social enterprises leading the way in the creative economy. (Speakers from Pakistan, UK, Sri Lanka, Nova Scotia).

- Climate change collaboration: Social enterprises. (Speakers from Denmark- Amsterdam Impact, Challenges Ghana, Taking Root – Canada, Nature Pays WWF).

Main Learnings:

  • Different approaches by governments towards funding the sector-don’t take no for an answer! E.g Canada Cultural Spaces Fund

  • Believe in your vision and sell to bureaucrats and politicians and you will eventually connect.

  • What government policies hindered? – long term buy-in and not charity model is

  • important. Trust we’re here in good times and bad. We don’t give up.

  • Education policy is the main hindering phase in the UK. Lack of join-up between Educ policy and Creative industry policy. Becoming elitist and not representative. Technical level to create a new route. Creation of London as a creative zone. Creative production and affordable. Make Creatives visible.

  • Need awareness building and collaboration. A lot of partners work in isolation. Social enterprises need a structural ecosystem.

  • Taking Root – Canada – Reforestation organization – make local community directed to landowners to mitigate climate change using technology- access carbon markets-sequestering using technology to document this. Not only industrial solutions. The people who control how land is managed live on the land. It needs to be led by local people. Intuitive approach – locally-led.

  • Nature Pays WWF- how you bring conservation, social justice and communities together- overlaps with Taking Rootwork -climate emergency space- social enterprise work is Nature pays – approach to focusing socio-economic and environmental reports. 200 CCEs in 50 countries around the globe - nature pays to provide livelihoods empowering communities, supporting early-stage indigenous enterprises. Climate Emergency – access to markets. Mix crisis – “Covid is a dress rehearsal for climate change”. Take action and make real change. These enterprises responding to covid are critical in this jigsaw.

  • Socio economical regenerative enterprises- cant have this silo thinking- multi-impact measurements at the same time. Working together more- greater collective gain Vs individual gain. We need to think collectively. Regeneration going beyond sustainability. Super optimistic sector but need to recognize we can't do it alone. Not consuming more than we can. Growth beyond GDP – need more circular. Social capital. To effect change – more sustainable regenerative projects.

  • Collective action is now more important than ever- to be inspired.

Damian Howard from Myshall Muintir Na Tire - SERI Practitioner Council Member

Session Attended: Climate Change Collaboration: Social Enterprises Required

Panel: Ellen Otelmans (Moderator) from Amsterdam Impact, Hina West of WWF: Nature Pays (UK), Dorcas Amoh-Mensah of Challenges Group (Sub-Saharan Africa) and Kahil Baker of Taking Root, (Canada).

Main Learnings:

All panel contributors operate globally but impact locally through their work supporting

community-based Social Enterprise (SE) initiatives in areas of conservation, reforestation, and

community development.

WWF: Nature Pays are active in supporting over two hundred mostly indigenous groups in

conservation areas around the world, Challenges Group work with SME’s in Sub-Saharan Africa and Taking Root support reforestation projects that provide sources of income for smallholders and communities while helping companies reduce their carbon footprint by supporting such initiatives.

Global warming is a significant issue and is impacting the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), therefore communities and locally-based social enterprises can play a significant role in helping tackle climate change.

  • The traditional top-down approach of large companies determining the type of supports they provide to social enterprises is shifting to a model where SE’s are communicating with more confidence by setting out clearly what they need in terms of funding or supply chain integration and more importantly how they impact in terms of goods or services.

  • There is a move from sustainability to a form of socio-economic regeneration when tackling climate change.

  • Large companies need to collaborate with each other across sectors and move away from the current silo way of thinking when tackling climate change.

  • Companies need to work with SE’s as a way of delivering their C.S.R. and not see SE’s as competition to them.

Final Words from the panel: Overall we cannot solve climate problems in the same way of

thinking and opportunity exist for our youth to help change things (KB), Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration (DAM) and finally practice self-care during these challenging times (HW).

Patrick Mulvihill from Amicitia - SERI Practitioner Council Member

Session Attended: Values based business – cooperatives and community ownership

Panel: Moderated by John Kay from Realize Strategies / Cooperatives & Mutuals Canada (Canada), introduced two speakers Emilie Viau-DrouinCAPÉ | Coopérative pour l'Agriculture de Proximité Écologique (Canada) and Teresa Scorza Zeropercento (Italy).

Main Learnings:

Both organisations were related to food, organic production and the sale of produce, and they highlighted challenges that will be familiar to many others related to industrial food production, organisational culture and the importance of their members. I think the key takeaway from the talk for me was the need to shift focus to the social and solidarity economy. The conversation often gets dominated by the differences between social enterprises and cooperatives when in reality organisations are all values-based businesses and working towards similar objectives. Funding mechanisms are often to blame for this disconnect with organisations grappling over scant resources but ultimately if we can work towards better systems of collaboration the benefits will reach us all.

We hope you enjoyed this breakdown of our key learnings from various SEWF sessions. If you attended a session and would like to add your learnings, please feel free to contact us at


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