Writing from Edinburgh, Sarah says:
Sorry this is slightly delayed but I still want to blog about the experience and learning of the SEWF 2018.
Thursday — the middle day of the conference — is where the key themes begin to merge and we start to understand the issues that are really interesting people this year.
There has been a radical change with very little conversation about the social finance economy and much more focus on running an effective social business, looking at different contexts of operation rural and urban, western, northern, eastern and southern economies and different business models.
Something which was really interesting is that we are seeing an increase in social enterprises where the sales of products unrelated to the social problem being solved are doing very well. Examples we heard about were Brewgooder, craft beer label that donates 100% of its profits to clean water projects around the world, and Madlug, which sells rucksacks and school bags on a buy one give one to a child in care basis, so that these youngsters have a proper bag for when they move home — most at the moment use black bin liners!
The other really strong theme has been the use of technology to support the business delivery. I heard a great presentation from the Jaipur Rugs Foundation which uses a technology platform to link local village rug producers to take the rugs to market — fascinating!
The conference itself has been incredibly well organised with nearly 200 speakers from all countries attending delivering key notes, masterclasses , debates and workshops. The task of getting to every workshop over the three days — and in some cases even hear that particular social entrepreneurs were due to speak — has been a challenge, but that is in the nature of large international events such as this.
The Brum delegation (see picture below) has been getting together as frequently as we can to exchange ideas and learning and see how we can bring this back to our Birmingham Social Enterprise City work.
More tomorrow about the last day of SEWF 2018 and my presentations on The Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter and Birmingham as a Social Enterprise City.